If you're new to the world of meeting and event planning, this is a great blog post to read before diving into checklists, spreadsheets, committee meetings, and decision-making. As you think through the specifics of your event, take venue selection seriously. It may be easiest to book the nearest hotel or community room, but thinking out of the box may be what takes your event from average to outstanding.
It doesn't matter if you're organizing a weeklong conference, weekend retreat, daytime meeting, or family reunion, there many unique venues to consider. As you search online for options and browse websites, remember another important step in selecting the right venue is scheduling a site visit.
Why a site visit to any potential venue is important
“Location, location, location!” This is the catchphrase of the real estate industry. It’s no different when choosing a venue for your event, meeting, or conference. The facility and the atmosphere, and, if needed, overnight accommodations, are all factors in determining the success of your event. From the moment an attendee sees the venue listing, often expectations are set, for better or for worse.
If you're comfortable with DIY online research, follow these steps.
- Create a spreadsheet to help you track information. It should include columns to record the hotel or convention center name, address, and phone number, as well as a place to make important notes like whether or not they have overnight and meeting room availability during the dates of your event. If you wish to create a more thorough spreadsheet, consider adding a few columns for recording additional information.
- Choose what city or town you want your meeting to be located. For instance, do you want to keep your meeting within an hour drive of your church, office, or headquarters? Do you prefer a quiet location or a busy city? To start, you can search "convention centers and hotels near [city name]" or "meeting venues in [state name]." Be sure to note on your spreadsheet which hotels and conference centers appeal to you. If you're using Google, it's helpful to look at their map feature to see where the top results are located in relation to one another.
- Call your top picks, gather the information you need, and record all of it on your spreadsheet. Once you have your spreadsheet in order, you can make an educated decision, present it to the event's decision maker, or bring it to the event planning committee.
NOTE: If this process seems overwhelming or you'd prefer some help, there are other ways to find potential event venues.
Once you've completed these steps, narrowed down your top 3-5 location choices—it's time to schedule site visits! Schedule a site tour by calling the venue's onsite group sales representative. This will allow you to see everything firsthand, meet the staff, examine lodging options and accommodations, taste the food, and more.
Before your first site visit, create or modify a site inspection checklist and brainstorm a list of questions. While visiting, take pictures of everything. They will serve as a reliable reference when you review your visit. Here are more site visit tips and ideas.
What to expect before, during & after your Sandy Cove site visit
If Sandy Cove made it on your list (we sure hope it did!), here are some tips to prepare for your site visit.
First, it's helpful for you to know that we're an all-inclusive, year-round Christian retreat and conference center with lodging and meals for up to 600 attendees. Best of all, guest rooms, dining facilities, and most meeting rooms are all under one roof!
Also, our mission is to help people connect with God and each other. We're committed to providing your group with opportunities for rest, refuge, retreat, renewal, and recreation—and we want you to experience that mission for yourself!
Before your site visit.
- If you're expecting 30 or more attendees, be sure to learn more about our meeting rooms, explore our guest rooms, read about our onsite recreational activities, and find out answers to frequently asked questions.
- If you're ready, fill out our Group Interest Form. This will get the ball rolling. You'll have the opportunity to tell us a little about your group, event type, potential event dates, and estimated size.
- Once you've submitted the Group Interest Form, a Group Sales Consultant will review it before contacting you.
- Get your list of questions ready and make sure your calendar is nearby. Once you've connect with a Group Sales Consultants, you can get answers and book your free site visit and overnight stay.
During your site visit.
- Check-in at our registration desk. You'll be given one of our signature cookies, The Chesadoodle (they're sooo delicious!), and your room assignment.
- From there, you'll meet up with a Group Sales Consultant who will show you around the Chesapeake Lodge and the attached meeting spaces, answer any questions you may have, help you to determine if our unique venue is the best fit for your event, and even talk about contract specifics if you're ready.
- Soak it all in. While we invite you to spend the night, eat in our dining room, and meet our staff, we also want you to enjoy our onsite recreation activities and experience the beautiful sunset over the Chesapeake Bay.
- Remember, take lots of pictures!
After your site visit.
- If you've decided to pursue Sandy Cover as your event venue, you'll get a contract from your Group Sales Consultant. When you sign your contract and submit a 10% deposit, you can consider your group's lodging, meals, and meeting space to be "booked." We accept e-check, organizational checks, and credit cards.
- After your event is booked, you'll be assigned an Event Coordinator who will reach out to you six weeks before your event. Your Event Coordinator will assist you with all the details leading up to your group's arrival and will also be available for the duration of your event.
- Continue planning your event!
Are you ready to schedule your free site visit and overnight stay? Fill out our Interest Form, call (800) 234-2683 and ask for Group Sales, or email email@example.com. We look forward to meeting you!