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Leslie TaborgaApr 4, 2024 9:19:07 AM8 min read

The Best Corporate Event Site Selection Checklist

Do you have some upcoming site visits but aren’t sure how to prepare?

Here are the major things to check off your list when visiting a venue, so when it comes time to choose, you can do so confidently. 

Short Summary

  1. Before you begin your site search, you need to have a clear understanding of your event strategy, objectives, and basic numbers (how many people, days, and sessions).
  2. The main categories on your site selection criteria should include lobby and meeting space, staff, back of house, guest rooms, parking, and security. 
  3. During site visits, pay close attention to first impressions, as they set the tone for the entire event experience. 
  4. Pay attention to red flags like unaccommodating staff or poorly maintained spaces.

empty venue for hosting corporate events

The Importance of a Site Selection Checklist

When it comes to event planning, selecting the right venue can make or break your event.

This means visiting multiple sites and creating a comparison checklist that includes: 

  • The level of cooperation/ compatibility with the venue
  • Alignment with your vision
  • Suitability for the event program's flow
  • Adequacy of meeting spaces
  • Evaluation of the geographical location (whether it's near a bustling downtown or close to key landmarks)

For example, we recently conducted five site visits with a client in Nashville, Tennessee. They were looking for a venue that was situated downtown and close to fun activities. We chose venues that fit the client’s criteria and then toured the locations. Using our comprehensive site visit checklist, we were able to compare all five venues and chose the one that best fit the client’s vision.

setting up chairs and presentation screens for a corporate event

First: Understanding Your Needs

The biggest misconception about event planning is that you need to book your venue first.

Many companies believe they should prioritize finding a venue, but this approach is actually counterproductive. It's more effective to seek a venue that aligns with your agenda rather than trying to force-fit the agenda into a venue.

Your venue search should be secondary to understanding your:

  • Goals
  • Agenda
  • Vision
  • Basic numbers (how many people, how many days, how many sessions)
  • Any key elements such as team-building, gamification, give-back events, or large activations that you want within your agenda

“When I’m going on a site visit, I’m walking the space as if I’m an attendee and seeing what the space feels like from their perspective.” - Leslie Tarboga, Director of Operations at GoGather

group of attendees networking at a corporate event in italy

Second: Conducting the Site Visit

Once you know what you need from your venue, it's time to prepare for the site visit. For us, creating a connection with the venue sales manager is the first step. This ensures the venue grasps our client's needs and can guide the tour accordingly. 

It also doesn’t hurt to have some overarching goals in mind in addition to your site selection checklist.

Here are some overall goals to guide your site inspection:

  • Evaluate service
  • Begin relationship building
  • Determine points of negotiation
  • See if the hotel has the right size meeting space
  • Determine the right "fit" - look and feel, service, product, culture
  • Determine if the hotel has the right style and amount of guest rooms

Corporate Event Site Selection Checklist 4

Your Ultimate Site Selection Checklist

Now that you're prepared for your site visit, use this checklist to ensure you're watching out for the right things during your tour.

Click here for the printable version of the entire site selection checklist. 

Hotel lobby/ public space Yes/No Comments
Are the check-in staff welcoming and assisting/asking questions as you walk by?    
Is there good flow to guest elevators and function space?    
Are there seating areas in the public space where people can go to talk or make calls?    
Are the restrooms sufficient in size if the hotel is full?    
Are there outdoor areas that are easy to get to for smokers/if someone wants air?    
Staff Yes/No Comments
Is the staff welcoming?    
Are there enough staff around to help out if needed?    
In general, is the staff smiling?    
Would the staff go out of their way to make an attendee experience special?    
When you ask a staff member for directions, do they walk you or point you to your destination?    
Meeting space Yes/No Comments
Is the general session space large enough?    
Are there any obstructions? (pillars, chandeliers, etc.)    
How is load-in? Is access to the loading dock convenient?    
Does the hotel have readerboards capable of showing logos?    
Will it be easy for attendees to go from one space to the other?    
Back of house Yes/No Comments
Are the back hallways swept and mopped?    
Are chairs stacked and other items organized?    
Is the kitchen clean?    
Guest rooms Yes/No Comments
Are the rooms recently renovated/updated?    
Are the following in working order: Lights, TV, Faucet, Toilet flush, Shower, Iron, A/C, Alarm clock    
Are the double rooms spacious enough for those sharing?    
Are there enough in-room amenities and towels for those sharing?    
Is there any noticeable exterior noise?    
Suites Yes/No Comments
How many suite types are available?    
What are the levels of suite types?    
Is there the right mix of suite types for this group?    
Have suites been renovated recently?    
Can suites be used for small meetings or receptions?    
Parking (if applicable/have drivers) Yes/No Comments
Is self-parking available?    
Is there enough self-parking for this group's drive-in requirements?    
Does the hotel have the ability to put self-parking on the master account, if it costs?    
Will there be other groups in-house that might affect the parking situation?    
Security/ Emergency Yes/No Comments
Does the hotel have an emergency plan?    
How many security staff are on the clock 24 hours a day?    
Does the property have indoor relocation/outdoor evacuation plans?    
Are exits well-marked and visible in all areas?    
Overall Yes/No Comments
Was your first impression positive?    
Is the hotel in overall good condition?    
Are there any major objections to overcome with this hotel?    
What is the normal business mix of the hotel? (group vs leisure/transient)    


Frequently Asked Questions

What is a site inspection checklist?

A site inspection checklist is a tool used by event planners during visits to potential venues. It serves as a comprehensive guide for evaluating and comparing different event locations.

How do I book a site inspection?

Booking a site inspection for your event involves a couple of steps. Here's how we typically handle the process:

  1. Understanding event needs: Work with the client to first understand their event needs, vision, agenda, etc.
  2. Sending out RFPs: Reach out to various properties and send out a request for proposal (RFP) detailing all the event specifications.
  3. Review proposals: After receiving around 20 proposals from potential venues, our project manager recommends the top 5 venues to the client and presents all 20 options for their consideration.
  4. Providing venue details: Clients are provided with information on each potential venue, including room rates, F&B minimums, available meeting spaces, any concessions offered, and distances from major airports and landmarks.
  5. Selecting venues for inspection: Once the client has narrowed down their top 4-6 venues, our project managers reach out to the sales managers of these venues to coordinate site visits.

Do event managers go with the client to site inspections?

Yes! The event manager typically attends site visits with the client to be a resource for ideas and ensure all the right questions are being addressed. 

How do I choose between event venues?

Review your site inspection checklist. Go over the strengths and weaknesses of each venue in relation to your event needs. This could include factors like spacious meeting rooms, convenient parking facilities, or F&B. 

Prioritize the checklist items based on their importance to your event. Some factors may be non-negotiable, while others could be considered nice-to-have features. 

What’s the most important thing in an event venue? 

Our initial assessment of a venue involves gauging the feel and practicality of the spaces—such as cleanliness, friendliness, and attentiveness of staff—and the practical aspects of the meeting rooms. This includes ensuring that all facilities not only meet the event needs but are also properly organized and functional.

If you find yourself second-guessing what you remembered from a site visit, check your list! Do your notes mention the space being welcoming? Was the staff helpful? Did they make you feel special? Did the venue go above and beyond? Try to remember your first impression of the venue.

Who will you work with during your site visit?

During a site visit, you will typically be given a tour by the hotel’s sales manager. 

After you choose which venue to host your event at, you will then be working with that hotel’s CSM, or client services manager, going forward. 

How many venues should I look at?

Make sure you narrow down the number of properties you tour to about 4-6 venues to allow enough time for a thorough evaluation of each.

What are deal breakers in an event venue?

We suggest keeping an eye out for potential deal breakers when selecting an event venue, such as a lack of service orientation among staff. It's crucial to work with venue personnel who are flexible, cooperative, and dedicated to making your event a success. 

The way the staff treats you on your site visit is indicative of how they treat attendees at the event program. 

Additionally, be aware of any signs of poor hygiene standards or lack of maintenance at a hotel, which can impact the suitability of the venue.

What is the next step?

After you’ve completed your site visits and selected the perfect venue for your event, you’ll want to do a follow-up visit to kickstart the planning process. 

Check out our article on strategies for your pre-planning site visit to learn more about how to prepare. 

group of attendees networking at a corporate event with title 'host your next event with GoGather'

Need help booking your site visit?

Let's chat about how GoGather can help you choose the right venue for your next event.


Leslie Taborga

Leslie Taborga is the Director of Operations at GoGather. With over 15 years of experience in project management, she currently manages a range of clients as well as a team of highly skilled project managers. Leslie has an extensive background in operations and marketing communications, with experience both on the corporate and agency side. She has a knack for building and maintaining relationships and understanding people, personalities, and cultures. Leslie will lead your project management team, guiding execution and providing extensive industry knowledge to the planning process.