Why invest in an international site visit?

Blog | Site Inspections

It might feel like a large expense in terms of both time and money to carry out an international site visit. You could be tempted to skip it, especially when you can look at floor plans and a few photos online!

Overseas events are generally a bigger investment for any organisation both financially and from a time perspective. So it’s just as important to ensure that a site inspection is invested in. Running events abroad can sound fun and glamorous but they can come with unknowns and more hurdles to navigate. There is nothing like seeing meeting space, meeting partners and walking grounds to bring your event vision to life and look at the creative opportunities!

Build a rapport

There is no substitute for meeting the venue staff face to face. These are the people that will be instrumental in ensuring your event is a success. Building a rapport with the event team is doubly important when one of you isn’t operating in their first language – whether at the venue or the local DMC as they have the knowledge on the local area. On some occasions language barriers can mean that phone conversations are not clear and misunderstandings can happen. Spending an hour or two with the team will allow you to build rapport, create a relationship and set expectations and understand all possibilities. Venues recognize the commitment to them by having a site inspection.

Take photos and videos

As with any site visit, make sure you walk the path the delegates will be taking at the event to try out the flow and timings. Take lots of photos and videos. This will really help with remembering how the event will come to life on the day and share with the wider team back at base. If the venue has another event on when you are there, take photos of their coffee break set up, lunch set up or where their registration desk is, but only if permission is granted.

Travel logistics

The logistics of getting your delegates to an overseas event can be more complicated, but you can plan ahead. Use your international site visit to work out the best options and this will also support with your contingency planning too.

  • Consider where the delegates will be travelling in from. How easy will their journey be? Are there frequent and direct flights from their point of origin?
  • What is the travelling time from the airport or station to the venue?
  • Do the local taxis take credit cards, does Uber operate and are they easy to hail at the airport or do transfers need to be arranged?
  • How easy is the journey from the main venue to any off site settings?
  • Do attendees need support with securing visas, what are the local requirements?


Remember small steps make a big difference!

  • Consider is travel sustainable. Can the event be carbon neutral by using a provider who can support with offsetting any travel?
  • What measurable sustainability is in place at the hotel? This is the chance to review and see in person
  • It’s a good opportunity to discuss food provenance, what suppliers do the hotel use and are they local?
  • Is there a green policy in place?
  • What good work is being carried out in the area and destination to shout about?
  • Is the international site visit itself carbon neutral and sustainable?

Cultural differences

It is always a good idea to celebrate the culture of the country you are holding the event in sensitively. A site visit gives you the opportunity to explore and consider the appropriateness of them alongside the culture of your delegates.

  • Include examples of the local cuisine on your menu, make sure you use your site visit to sample it! Some of your delegates could be put off by more unusual local delicacies! Check out the menus at all of your potential venues and restaurants. Sample as many as you can and think about the general appeal
  • Make sure your potential venues or restaurants have the same understanding of what is required for different dietary requirements as you do. Find out how they handle separating foods and labelling them, as some cultures may not see this as being as important as others.
  • When putting your agenda together consider the local traditions and way of life, as well as your delegates’ needs. It may be normal to eat supper at 6pm or 10pm depending on where you are
  • Are there any dress codes your delegates should be aware of? For example, some countries prefer shoulders or ankles to be covered in certain sorts of venues
  • Find out what the local customs or traditions are and if there are any local suppliers or entertainers that could be incorporated into your evening entertainment. See if you can experience them while on your site visit. Remember your delegates may have different expectations of modesty or safety standards than the locals

Experience the hotel

If timings allow, stay a night in the hotel. This is the best way to see how comfortable the pillows are, what the breakfast buffet is like or how sound proof the rooms are. While you are there make sure you see the leisure facilities, as these are all important for the delegate experience and also takes into account wellbeing. If you are looking at a number of venues, stay the night in the preferred hotel and visit the others. Allow time for meetings with each venue team to discuss the event. This way you can get a real feel for how each venue can support in different ways. Remember to arrange a final meeting with the preferred option for the all important negotiations.

Lastly, but certainly not least, get a feel for the area the venue is in. Does it feel appropriate and safe? Are there building works next door? What are your first impressions?

ZiaBia on the road

ZiaBia have recently travelled to Cape Town, Warsaw and Malta for international site visits and have gained a plethora of invaluable information on each one. But across the years site inspections have taken place from Barcelona to New Orleans and many places in between! All of this information is meticulously recorded on detailed reports and kept for reference as you never know when you might want to go back.

If you would like advice and support before your next international site visit and event, do please get in touch.

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Debbie Bell

Author Bio:
Some people may think that I’m a control freak, I disagree and say I have a passion for events! This includes a fanatical attention to detail and a passion and ability to organise things and find solutions for situations.

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July 2019: Site Inspections, events and agenda planning