Developing a Site Visit Itinerary
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As event professionals gear up for a busy fall season, some of the critical additions to my fall calendar are site visits. Many event teams are already planning well into 2023 and it’s time to get reacquainted with our live event spaces. But with sky high flight prices, travel delays, and lost luggage, it’s more important than ever to ensure every site visit is productive, efficient, and flexible. Below are 5 steps to guarantee that you are crafting a worthwhile itinerary for your group.
1. Determine your site visit goals – Are you introducing team members or supplier partners to a new convention or event venue and discussing sponsorship opportunities? Are you sourcing off-site venues and menus for an evening social event with your local planning committee? Do you need to find an exclusive dinner experience for your CEO and Board of Directors dinner at the annual meeting? Or is it all of the above? Before embarking on creating your guest list or exploring flights to your destination, be sure to know why you’re jetting off in the first place. Having a clear list of goals will ensure that your visitor’s bureau, venue, and hotel partners can help you achieve these goals while you’re in town.
2. Create your guest list – Once you’ve determined your goals, be sure to invite all of the stakeholders who can help you achieve them! Depending on your organization and the type of event, this list may include members of your event planning, membership, sponsorship, exhibits, or executive teams. If you are partnered with an official service contractor, audio-visual company, or production company, you’ll want include them as well. Often, their previous experience in a particular venue can help the team assess options for your general session, registration area, or expo hall that have worked well for other organizations.
3. Determine your dates – Now that you have your A-Team assembled, it’s time to confirm a travel window and your site visit dates. Check in with your convention center, hotel, and visitor’s bureau contacts to make sure you’re able to view your contracted space! Beyond the time it will take to achieve your site visit goals, factor in time to explore the local surroundings and get a feel for the attendee experience.
4. Create your schedule – Our time is more precious than ever, so don’t forget to consider the number of days (or hours) you’ve allocated for your site visit. While your visitor’s bureau and venue partners may be a critical part of your site visit from beginning to end, make the best use of the time your supplier partners have allocated to spend with you. Consider scheduling the venue tour and discussions with internal venue services sequentially and then allowing them to exit while the remaining group discusses transportation, catering, off-site venues, and dinner locations.
Once you’ve confirmed the schedule with your local partners, share the itinerary with your entire guest list to ensure everyone is able to plan ahead. Be prepared for your site visit guests to need to attend virtual meetings and conference calls, which are now a part of daily life, even when we’re on the road. If you’re aware of these conflicts ahead of time, consider building in time for breaks for attendees to conduct these meetings at pre-determined times, then reconvene and refocus.
5. Pack your carry-on and be flexible! – If we’ve learned anything as an industry over the last 3 years, it’s flexibility. While travel delays are possible, save yourself at least one headache and pack your carry-on luggage for what is likely a short trip!
Safe Travels and Happy Planning!