Hint: Swiping is disabled on videos, use the right arrow to advance and view images.
We can all agree that visiting potential sites is an integral part of the site selection process for events. However, not all site visits are created equal. Rights Holders are looking for a quick trip to look at the venue to make sure it will work for their needs. Looking at facility specs on paper, or online, is helpful; but, we really need to see the space in person to identify any potential issues, planning the layout, and identifying branding opportunities. While not all Rights Holders are looking for the same experience, there are some common themes we look for to make the most of the visit.
Do Your Homework
Just as we ask for destinations to do their homework before our appointments at Symposium, we want you to do your homework before our site visits as well. Byron Hicks, the Manager of Events for USA Ultimate says, “Know my needs before I come and show me what I need. Don’t show me ball fields when I need linear field space.” One of the most frustrating experiences for Rights Holders on site visits is looking at facilities that we cannot use. For example, I run outdoor events, so I do not want or need to see indoor venues, it is simply a waste of time. One way that a destination can prepare for a visit is to look at previous events that we have held and see schedules or venue maps to get an idea of what our events look like in advance of the site visits. If you cannot find the information you are looking for, just ask us for it.
This is another area where it is important to understand our needs before the site visit takes place. Ask the Rights Holder if they want to see hotels or not. I think all Rights Holders would agree that we have no desire to look at individual hotel rooms (they are largely all the same). Unless your rights holders ask to see hotels or use meeting space in the hotels, you can skip these during our site visit. If your Rights Holder uses a third-party housing service, there is even less need for us to see the hotels.
Meet and Greet
For me, it is very important to meet the people we will be dealing with directly at the venues. That relationship is one of the most important pieces and can make or break an event. Arrange for the venue manager, or whomever we will be working with for the event, be on site during our visit. Kim Rogers, Director of Special Events for US Lacrosse agrees, “I like to see the venue and meet with whoever it is we would ultimately be working with at the venue. We are able to preemptively solve potential issues before the event starts when all the parties involved already have a working relationship.” Having the venue manager on the site visit is also helpful when we have venue specific questions that the venue manager can answer easily on the spot allowing us to visualize what the event will look like.
The timing of a site visit is also very important. This is also an area where it is important to ask the Rights Holder what they want to see, which can be difficult to anticipate, because Rights Holders are split on this one. Some of us want to see the venue while an event is going on, so they can see how things work in real time. Other rights holders want to see the venue when it is empty, so they have a clean slate to work to envision their event in the space. Ask them the question before you schedule the site visit, so if they want to see an event going on at the venue you can schedule it accordingly.
Wine and Dine
“While wining and dining are always appreciated, they never influence my decision. Don’t waste your time and money on me if we aren’t a good match to begin with,” says Byron Hicks. Rights Holders do love to feel important and wanted by the destinations. However, in the end the destination’s ability to meet the requirements to host the event is all that matters. We are never going to pick a site that we know is not going to work for our needs just because they took us to a ‘cool’ event or gave us a nice gift. That being said, be sure you do highlight what makes your community unique and interesting. We care about our participants experience on and off the field. “When I am on a site visit I always want to eat good, local food. Local cuisine tells you a lot about a community and it plays an important part of participant experience.”
Let Us Help You
Rights Holders want the event to be win-win for everyone. Tell us what we need to do to make this successful. If we need to contact community leaders to garner their support, meet with community residents, or whatever else it may be we will be more than willing to do it if we want to host an event somewhere. A good rights holder will look out for the best interest of all in involved because in the end it is good for our events.
NASC Mentoring and Engagement Committee