The Importance of Conducting a Site Visit Essay

The following pages have for purpose to outline and explain in detail the important aspects of conducting a site visit when organising an event. Executing a physical inspection of potential venues where to hold an event points out whether a particular venue is suitable or not for the purposes and theme of the specific venue. A theoretical knowledge has been explored and backed-up by practical examples from a recent site visit at the very popular Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens, which is a host of numerous high-class events every year.

A site inspection checklist has been made prior to the visit and completed after an interview with a member of the event management team of the Gallery. The information presented below explains how the theory has been applied when conducting a site inspection at one the most exquisite venues in London. The Serpentine Gallery is one of the best known London galleries and also described as fearsomely fashionable by The Observer, set in the unique location of Kensington Gardens, within a very short distance from the West end and Knightsbridge.

It focuses on modern and contemporary art and attracts approximately 750 000 visitors a year with its exhibitions, education and public programs. Every year, the Serpentine Gallery commissions international architects to design a temporary Pavilion constructed on the gallery’s outside premises, which provides a distinctive showcase for unique and modern architecture during the summertime. All of the architects are of a worldwide acclaim corresponding to the prestigious international reputation of the gallery, and some of them include Henry Moore, Andy Warhol, Paula Rego, etc.

The Pavilion, which capacity is 500, then is opened for private and corporate events in the evenings (Serpentine Gallery, 2010). The Serpentine Gallery is divided into four large magnificently proportioned rooms, including the high-domed space in the central gallery. In the evenings, stylish outdoor lighting and illuminated paths create a dramatic impact on attendees arriving to this elegant Neo Classical Grade II listed building. The four galleries are available for private and corporate hire for evening events throughout the year, based on availability. The premises can be also hired during the day if there are no exhibitions.

Serpentine Gallery can accommodate 150 people for drinks reception and 70 guests for seated dinner; the Pavilion has c. 500, but is only opened for a limited time during the year. Due to the opening hours and the small capacity of the rooms, the venue cannot be hired for wedding parties (Hill, 2010). (See Appendix 1: Capacity of Serpentine Gallery) The Serpentine Gallery hosts more than 100 high-class events a year associated with world popular brands such as Vogue, Aston Martin, The Sunday Times Style, Ferrari, Bloomberg, Tiffany’s & Co, DKNY, Vivienne Westwood, etc (Serpentine Gallery,2010) .

Being an art gallery and not a purpose-built venue, it falls into the category of unusual venues in which more and more event planners nowadays prefer to organise their events due to their uniqueness and differentiation. Serpentine Gallery provides their own event management team – Katie Hollingworth, being the senior event organizer, and Charlie Hill – events assistant, who are the people to be contacted when one is considering hiring the venue premises for a private or corporate event and if interested conducting a site visit.

A physical site visit helps the event coordinator with the evaluation of the potential venue in order to take full advantage of its strengths and opportunities and reduce its weaknesses and threats. (Mikolaitis, 2002) A preliminary site inspection is of crucial importance for the event organisers to determine whether the venue meets the client’s needs and desires, as well as its suitability for the specific event in terms of space, location, cost, availability, accessibility, safety and purpose, role and goals of the event(Price, 2000).

In addition, there are certain limitations and regulation policies of the particular venue that come forward on the site visit and which could be discussed with the venue management team when appointing a site inspection. It is important that these are clarified between the parties involved in the event operations, they could appear to be potential obstacles for the event’s requirements.

When selecting a venue, professional event coordinator should consider the scope and the objectives of the specific event, the needs and the expectations of the clients and the guests, the rate, space and location of the venue and its capabilities and accessibility, etc. At this point the use of the 5 W’s (who, where, when, why and what) could be a valuable tool, which helps the coordinator to determine whether the site meets the specific requirements of the event.

During the brainstorming process of selecting a proper venue for the event to take place (which the planning of each event starts with), the event management team should answer the following questions: when is the event going to be hosted (dates and schedules); why is the event being organised (goals); who is attending (guests’ expectations and desires); where is the event taking place (physical requirements); what is the event format and scope (Wolf, P. and Wolf, J. , 2005).

Nowadays unique venues such as galleries, museums, etc. resent the event coordinators with a wider range of options. In stead of searching for a proper purpose-built venue, they have the opportunity to select such site, which offers unfurnished and plain spaces and require the importation of basic and design equipment and services to adapt the site to the event operations’ requirements (Silvers Rutherford, 2004). Premises of such kind could easily be fitted to the purpose and the theme of the up-coming event and the personal style of the. As a result, the event obtains uniqueness and become outstanding.

This is the reason why more event organisers prefer to adapt a particular venue to the purposes of the event rather than the opposite. A unique venue such as the Serpentine Gallery should be carefully inspected by the event organisers to determine its opportunities and challenges. The venue has a huge impact on the tone of the event and the first impressions of the attendees; it reflects on the personal style and creates the atmosphere of the event. The space, location, interior and accessibility have to be coordinated with the client’s requirements and needs, and the guests’ expectations.

While conducting a preliminary site inspection the event organisers should evaluate the decor and the layout of the venue to make sure that the venue has the potential to satisfy or even exceed the guests’ needs, desires and expectations (Allen, J, 2009). As the Serpentine Gallery is not a purpose built venue, the 4 rooms are offered unfurnished and gives the organisers the opportunity to use their full imagination and create the best possible experience for the event attendees in terms of decorations, themes, visual and sound experience, etc.

However, in addition to the opportunities that the Gallery offers, it also poses certain limitations and restrictions. For example, fireworks and pyrotechnics inside the venue premises are strictly forbidden as it contradicts the Health and Safety policy of the Serpentine Gallery. The availability of the venue generates another limitation for potential clients. They cannot use the premises for hosting an event during the opening hours, neither suppliers can access the venue until the doors shut for visitors.

One can organize a function only between 6pm and 11pm (Serpentine Gallery, 2010). The venue also poses a limitation on suppliers that can be used. The client is obligated to choose from those suppliers who are approved to work at the Serpentine Gallery (See Appendix 2: Suppliers Approved to work at Serpentine Gallery). A preliminary site is also a key tool of the risk assessment when planning events.

This procedure allows event organisers to determine potential hazards and vulnerabilities, which the venue could pose to the operations associated with the event and the attendees. Kilkenny, 2006) Event organisers need to conduct a careful observation of the venue elements in order to efficiently monitor and control their conditions and visually verify the safety and security operations and work on minimizing any hazards that could pose threat to the smooth running of a function. The accessibility of a venue is of fundamental importance when hosting an event. The primary focus will be on capacity, contents and configuration of the event site. The architectural design of the site must meet the ingress and egress access needs of all attendees, be it guests, participants or employees.

The site accessibility is usually the responsibility of the venue management and it is usually coordinated with the site premises. During the site inspection, event coordinators need to review emergency procedures and facilities for the handicapped. The risk manager should also look for any event elements or aspects of the site that might have the potential for injuries, scanning the environment above, below, from side to side and front to back, and from event start to finish (Silvers Rutherford, 2008).

Taking photographs of the site could be a benefit when planning the interior design of the venue in terms of colours, decorations, signage and equipment, nevertheless when indicating emergency and fire exits and trying to indicate any irregularities that could affect the event. Permission for taking photos of the site can only be acquired when meeting the event management team of Serpentine Gallery, who are also the people who provide their clients with floor maps of their venue premises (See Appendix 3: Serpentine Gallery floor map).

Although Serpentine Gallery has a full risk assessment conducted and appropriate safety measures are taken to meet the highest level of standards and limit each feasible hazard, the event organisers need to become familiar with them (e. g. exit marking, fire extinguishers, detection systems, alarm systems, etc. ) and negotiate any potential risks and dangers that could affect the performance of the event, the safety of the attendees and the reputation of the clients. (Tum.

J, 2006) The client’s event management team should also consider potential negative impacts of site usage over the surrounding environment and the site neighbourhood and minimize such as much as possible. Controlling damage, pollution, waste will not only protect the environment; it will reduce the financial and physical risk, associated with using a site or venue. The event may require adhering to specific environmental protection regulations and codes, particularly in regard to public-owned lands, such as Serpentine Gallery is.

Bearing in mind that the gallery is located in public-owned green premises, the event organisers have to undertake accurate measures in consideration with the sanitation and environmental regulations, to mitigate the negative impact that their event could have on the environment (e. g. waste management) (Silvers Rutherford, 2008) A site inspection checklist is essential tool when conducting a site visit. The components of a checklist can vary depending on the type of venue and the character of an event.

Depending on the type of the event and the venue, which is hosting it, the contents of a site inspection checklist can include different venue elements from general location and site facilities, to health, environmental and security concerns. The use of such helps the event coordinators to indicate each element and facility of the venue, which will facilitate the monitoring and controlling over the event operations and undertake appropriate safety measures if required to mitigate feasible hazards affecting a specific function.

The components that a proper site inspection checklist for Serpentine Gallery should include depend on the specific type of the event and its requirements that need to be met. However, Appendix 4 show a more general checklist of an event, which hasn’t been specified. (See Appendix 4: Serpentine Gallery – Site Inspection Checklist) (Silvers Rutherford, 2008) When planning an event, conducting a site visit and preparing a site inspection checklist, are important components of the risk management and risk assessment for the particular event and the venue, where it will be hosted.

A site visit prior the event is important to be made as it gives the event coordinator the opportunity to evaluate the suitability of a particular venue for the goals and purposes of the event. It is the venue that gives the atmosphere of the event and creates the first impressions within the attendees, which is why getting a close look at every single detail of the site rather than depend on information that can be found in the venues’ websites, brochures and virtual tours, guarantees an accurate evaluation of whether the site fits all aspects of the particular event.

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