A venue walkthrough is an integral part of the event planning process. And a source of opportunity too.
Sometimes referred to as a site visit, the venue walkthrough serves as a central component of the Event Planner’s deliverables. In this article, I’ll share five foundational questions to ask during the venue walkthrough. But don’t leave out the other questions I’m including below too. They’ll make your life easier, for sure.
I love to use this time to get my clients excited about their event, while simultaneously hammering out a huge amount of details on the spot, with a captive audience. The venue walkthrough is the best way to map out the flow and look of your event, and it’s also a chance to ask the venue representative questions. Having those questions handy and knowing what to inquire about is essential. But here are a few questions to consider.
Related article: How To Find A Venue For Your Event
1. What are the load-in and load-out procedures?
Ever had a full catering van towed? Trust me, it’s not fun. Since the Event Planner needs to be a reliable source of information on all things vendor-related, it’s essential that we have a good understanding of the load-in and load-out rules for each venue.
Figure out the best logistical timeline for load-in, based on vendor needs, and work with the venue representative to make things as easy and stress-free on the day of the event as possible. Ask them who their preferred vendors are, and which rental companies tend to work the best for them.
Prepare your vendors by letting them know where to pull up and park, if there is a freight elevator, a check-in desk, etc. Unnecessary stress because of a towed vehicle, or not knowing that there are several flights of stairs to climb, can set a negative tone for the rest of the day. And sometimes yield some disastrous results.
2. Is there anything that we can customize?
It’s amazing how much useful information one can glean from a site visit. Many times, a space has equipment or signage that can be customized to interact with your event. What does the venue have to offer in-house that could act as a fun or interesting showpiece? Are there chalkboards that an artist could add flourishes to, like a corporate brand, or the names of a couple?
If the venue is a theater, is there a marquis, or a space to hang personalized “show” posters? Are there production components that could be accessed, like custom lighting design, or projectors?
3. Is this building ADA compliant, and what is the protocol for assisting guests with mobility issues?
Depending on where you live, it is likely that your local law enforces ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance with any public building. However, this might not be the case if your event is taking place at a private residence or an outdoor space. During the venue walkthrough, make sure you understand all of the ways your venue can accommodate all guests safely and comfortably.
Is there a passenger elevator, and ramps to enter the building? Are there multiple levels on which the event takes place? Are there bathrooms on all levels? It’s ok to ask your client if they have an idea of how many guests may have mobility issues, and discuss a plan for making every guest feel taken care of upon arrival.
4. What cool things have past clients done with the space that you would recommend?
Venues see countless events executed within their walls, and there is no better expert to ask about what kinds of things work really well in their space, and what do not.
Most venues will have a “Preferred Vendor List,” and for a very good reason. Some vendors click really well with venues and build a great working relationship that, if your client likes their work, can only help to serve you in the long run. You’ll know that this vendor has experience in this venue, and you can trust that they’ll have it down when it comes to the specific protocol to follow.
Use the venue walkthrough to find out which floor plans work the best in the space. And what types of decor they have seen that was really stunning. Likewise, you should also take the venue’s advice on what not to do with their particular site: what doesn’t look great, which vendors they don’t work well with, etc.
5. What isn’t allowed in the venue?
Does your client want a confetti cannon at their event? Where can guests smoke outside the venue? Better check with the venue first.
Just because a client has rented the room doesn’t mean they have free reign over it for that contracted time, and venues work hard to set that expectation. Your goal as an event planning business is likely to keep booking more and more events, and one of the best ways to do so is by being recommended by venues.
Venue representatives appreciate you following the rules closely. And they’ll appreciate your help in guiding your client when they disregard the rules. Try not to promise things like open flame candles or affixing items to the walls, without checking with the venue first.
Related article: What Venues Wish Event Planners Knew
The Venue Walkthrough Is An Opportunity
The walkthrough is an opportunity in so many ways if you remember the suggestions above. You’ll have opportunities to network with the venue, and build more business relationships. You’ll find event design ideas, new highly-recommended vendors, and fresh inspiration. And you’ll be able to set client expectations too. What a win!
And don’t forget to attach the venue floorplan to the event details in ThymeBase’s event planning software.