My new favorite site visit tool

Bosch DLR130K Digital Measurer

I am surprised by the number of conference venues that do not provide floor plans with room measurements for meeting planners. On a recent round of site visits, only one of seven facilities visited had this information readily available. Four of the venues had floor plans, but supplemented them with infuriating capacity charts showing the number of seats available for classroom, theater, banquet, boardroom, hollow square etc. sets. (Please, venue sales managers, read Paul Radde’s refreshing book “Seating Matters” and realize that these room sets are not optimum for most circumstances.)

For event designs such as Conferences That Work, where room sets include large circles, horseshoes, table-less small group rounds and other configurations, I must have the basic room dimensions in order to plan what can happen where.

As a result a twenty-five foot tape measure has been part of my site-visit kit for many years. This tool, while cheap, is awkward to use. Ideally, it requires two people, holding each end, stretching out the tape, and moving multiple times to measure a large room.

So I was delighted, a few months ago, to discover a modern tool that’s ideally suited to rapidly measure room dimensions, the Bosch DLR130K Distance Measurer, as shown above [Update May 6, 2017: The DLR130 model has been discontinued; the newer Bosch GLM 35 looks great too!]. The unit uses a laser to measure distance and is called the DLR130; the DLR130K is a kit that includes the unit, a belt pouch, and four AAA batteries.

This little gem is smaller and lighter than my 25′ tape measure. In about a second, it measures distances up to 130′ [40 m.] within 1/16″, not that I need anything that accurate. By standing in the middle of a really large room and measuring the distances to the opposite walls, you can handle room dimensions up to 260′. The unit will calculate area and volume too if, for some reason, you need to. The batteries are claimed to last for 30,000 measurements.

The DLR130K costs around $90 [Update May 6, 2017: The newer GLM 35 sells for $70 without a case]. A high-quality 25′ tape measure costs around $20, so this is a more expensive tool. I think it’s worth it.

Perhaps one day, every venue sales manager will supply room dimensions (I can dream). Until then, I’m bringing my DLR130 with me on every site visit.

Crowdsourced site visit toolkit

toolbox - davemott - 4257800537_650aff5085_oI’ve just returned from a site visit for a June 2011 event in New Jersey, and on the drive home I thought it would be interesting to share the tools I bring when I’m checking out a possible location for an event.

And then I had a better idea.

Why not create a site visit toolkit that all event professionals could add to and improve?

With the wonders of Google Docs, this is an easy thing to do.

So, here’s the crowdsourced site visit toolkit. I’ve seeded it with my tools, but I’m sure there are plenty of neat tools and tips that I’ve missed that would improve the list. As far as I’m concerned, “tools” is defined loosely—feel free to add anything you’ve found useful when conducting a site visit for an upcoming event. You can add links to appropriate products and services that you’ve found useful with the Google Docs link buttonbutton on the Google Docs toolbar, and I’ve suggested a way to add tips as well.

I’ll leave the list as a publicly available document, though I may close it to further edits after contributions fall off.

So, crowdsource away!

(And don’t forget to add your name to the list of contributors!)

Image attribution: Flickr user davemott