Scouting sites for an event can be a time-consuming and expensive process, especially if you’re entering a new or unfamiliar market. Fortunately, you have virtual scouting on your side.

Today, I’d like to give you an in-depth look at Google Earth, other tools we use for virtual scouting at Event 360, and what goes into this process.

Getting Started
First of all, make sure you have a footprint of the event site, basic site needs/requirements and possible restrictions. Having this information will help you identify sites that will work best with your event. Also, be sure your computer has the processing speed and strong Internet connection that many mapping programs require.

Next, choose a mapping program. It may be beneficial to use a few programs because they all have different attributes that lend themselves well to scouting virtually. I tend to use a combination of these tools:

Put Your Tools to Work
Start using your tools by surveying the satellite imagery and pinpointing key sites that match your event criteria. You may find it helpful to have a 1-5 rating system (e.g. 1 = an ideal choice, 5 = doable if necessary). Google Earth pushpins can be placed at sites of interest and stored in a folder.

Using certain Google Earth tools can let you make measurements with good accuracy. For instance, let’s say you have multiple tents ranging from 20′ x 40′ to 100′ x 200′. Use the Google Earth line tool to measure out your footprint to see if the chosen site will work.

Next, go to Street View for as close of a look at the site as you could possibly get without being there. Street View can help you discover obstacles — e.g. light poles, uneven surfaces — that may affect your site layout and are typically difficult to see in satellite imagery.

Two other notes about Google Earth:

  • Many Street View images are more up-to-date than satellite images.
  • Street View images are available for most major cities. If that’s not the case for your city, try using Bing Maps’ Bird’s-Eye View to get the closest perspective possible.

Final Steps
When evaluating a particular site, be sure to look at it from all cardinal directions. The satellite imagery can change and give you more recent images depending on your perspective.

After you’ve used a program to identify, label and prioritize your sites, visit them in person. This always should be the final step in a comprehensive scouting process.

Virtual scouting can help you save time and money when scouting sites. Better yet, it assures you’re thoroughly surveying a geographical landscape and not missing out on any viable sites. As a result, you’ll be uncovering the best possible site options — and ultimately helping to create the best possible event experience for participants.

Jake Geiger is an Account Director for Event 360.

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