Guide to Showrounds

Posted on 10/07/2013 by Chloe

You’ve whittled down the venues – but which one to choose? Showrounds give you a great insight into your potential venues enabling you to experience the food, service, general housekeeping, bedrooms, facilities, even the temperature, smells and acoustics, not only from your own perspective but also from your guests’ perspective in terms of how your event will be dealt with.

If you can, make the time for one – if you can’t there’s always the virtual visit option - but there’s nothing better than physically experiencing the venues of your choice.

Whichever way you do it, you’ll be able to use your spidey senses to gauge which one’s for you. Armed with the proposal, a camera (if you’re conducting the site visit on behalf of your team), questions you may like to ask and a pad and pen to jot down comparable notes – or an app like Quick Note if you prefer – get ready to use the 5 senses to determine whether the venue will firstly fit the bill and secondly add value to your event.

Preliminaries:

When arriving at the venue take into account whether it’s easy to find, where can you park and if there’s enough parking. Alternatively are there transport links such as Train/Bus stops in close proximity? What are your initial impressions of the venue – how do you feel?

Is there scaffolding outside the property or any work being conducted in close proximity? The past few years have meant that for many venues, full refurbishments have not been plausible. It’s more likely that venues are undertaking refurbs now and in the near future. Although this will formulate one of our queries when undertaking the venue find, we all know things can happen at the last minute for various reasons so it’s worth double checking when it’s coming down.

As you go through to the venue is it fully accessible? Is there space for a separate designated group check-in desk if your event is residential? Is there sufficient storage for luggage/cloakroom facilities?  What’s the general ambiance once inside? If schedule allows I like to go early – unannounced – and sit in the foyer or lounge to watch the venue in motion. Look to see if there are any particular dress codes adhered to – it’s also worth asking your guide. How do the team conduct themselves? Are they smart and courteous?

When you approach reception prior to your meeting are they organised? Are they aware of your meeting? Are they courteous? How long does it take for someone to meet you?

Meeting Rooms:

When you’re walking around the venue take stock of the general housekeeping, cleanliness and also of the navigation.  Map out the event as you walk around – how does it flow? Is it streamlined and easy to navigate or do you need additional signage or bodies for human signage? Check all aspects of your event can be catered for. In the meeting areas does it feel good to be in there – would you like to be in there all day? Is there enough daylight, air conditioning, are there off putting smells? Ask for a demonstration of the sound equipment or AV - can you see screens from every angle? Does the venue support any AV if you’re planning to bring some in? Check whether sound travels. Are there business facilities available on site? What are the costs involved with WiFi?

Don’t forget to check when the fire alarms are scheduled and that the mobile signal is strong in the meeting rooms and areas you’ll most likely be. Is the venue able to provide walkie talkies for the event team if necessary?

Bedrooms:

Ask to see all standards of bedrooms – the best and worst – so there’re no surprises. If you’d like guests allocated in a particular block, ensure this is noted and that this can be accommodated. Do the bedrooms fit in with your delegate/guest profile? Make a list of in room facilities so you can compare with other venues. Are there minibars in the room – will you need these locked or open? A great addition is to ensure soya milk replaces dairy milk for those with dairy intolerances so they can have a hot drink in the comfort of their room.

Grounds:

Check the surrounding area is sufficient for your event. If you’re having outside team building check the distance and again that it’s easily accessible, also that you can hold team building inside if the weather turns and check if there’d be any additional costs incurred. Great British weather permitting is there space for elements of your event to be held outside – a drinks reception perhaps? Are there additional costings involved? Also ensure there’s space outside for delegates to get fresh air throughout the day as well as locating the smoking areas.

Post Showround:

If Corporate Social Responsibility is an important factor to you check the venue’s environmental and sustainable policies such as whether they locally source their food, whether they themselves have a CSR plan in place and whether they practise recycling.

Wherever possible try to confirm a lunchtime showround as more often than not you’ll be provided lunch – depending on the venue’s policy – so you’ll have the opportunity to sample the food.

Throughout the whole process constantly evaluate the reliability, flexibility and enthusiasm the team demonstrates to your needs – talk to the team as you’re walking around – after all, these will be the people you and your delegates will come across throughout your function.

After the showrounds have been conducted – which venue best fits your event brief?