It takes only one bad experience at a hotel or venue to know that a solid site inspection is essential for any successful meeting or event. Just showing up is not enough either. Site inspecting is more than just visiting the property to view sleeping rooms and meeting space. Visually, a property may look great and fit your meeting needs, but once you scratch the surface, your expectations in their level of service or food quality may leave little to be desired. Ensuring that you ask the right questions while on the inspection can save you a lot of headaches and extra work once the event starts. During your site inspection remember to verify and be comfortable with the five basics of meeting planning: Location, Facility, Hotel Staff, Meeting Space & Food and Beverage. Do this and your property selection will be a success.
1- Location: How close is the property to a major airport, and what type of recreational activities does the area afford? Is there shopping nearby and what are the latest hot restaurants? Is this a location your group will enjoy? More importantly, does it fit the overall strategy and objectives of the program? Also, think ahead about the hook you can use for your attendees during the recruitment process. Request the top ten most popular activities to do in/around the hotel from the Concierge before you leave. A very important area to check before you get to the site inspection is making sure there are no other city-wide programs happening during your program. A city-wide is when another group or association is taking over a large block of the hotel rooms in a city. If you find yourself, as a smaller group, competing with a larger group, you will always lose. Stay away from a city-wide situation if you can. If you can’t, then make sure you choose a hotel that is not part of the city wide event. This will ensure you will get the attention you deserve.
2- Facility: If the property has thought of the little things, you can bet they have thought of service. What is the availability of guest services, for example how many ATM machines are there, where is the concierge desk, and are there safes for valuables in every room? Are the bathroom fixtures updated and are the rooms comfortable and clean? What types of room amenities are offered? Here’s hints…ask to see the best room on the property and the worst. A good sales person will show you both. Also always ask for free upgrades for your VIP’s and free rooms as a percentage of your total room block. These are standard negotiations and good to request during the site inspection process.
3- Hotel staff: This team is critical to ensuring a pleasant experience for any hotel guest. Take the time to notice if you were greeted with a smile and by name either in the valet or at the front desk. How long did you wait before getting your rooms keys? Did you get escorted to your room and given an explanation of the hotels amenities. Call the operator from your sleeping room and see how many rings it takes until they answer the phone and the tone of the operator upon answering. A key element of this is a strong concierge’s program. A concierge that is knowledgeable and helpful will make your stay and your attendee’s stay truly memorable. They will know the latest hot spot, how to get on the best golf course at the last minute and always knows how to get to a 24-hour dry cleaner. Remember, we are talking about experience here, and experience is perception.
4- Meeting Space: Nothing will ruin a meeting quicker than bad meeting space. Make sure you ask if there are any other groups in-house during your stay. If so, how will they impact your group? Is there a thermostat in the meeting rooms to easily make temperature changes? Are there columns or other obstructions on the meeting rooms that may obstruct viewing? Speak to your meeting planner about how your meeting room set-up fits into this room. Should you sit classroom style or theater? Will table rounds work better for your meeting? Make these decisions during the site inspection so you are visually on-site and can feel the space. Try to negotiate free space and additional rooms for breaks.
5- Food & Beverage: Be very comfortable with the property’s ability to offer quality food & beverage service. Review the catering department’s standard group offerings. Confirm tax and gratuities, which will be 26%-35% of your base bill. Challenge the food and beverage staff to come up with unique menus and venues around the property. Also, make sure the room in-service menu meets your specifications for your attendees. The best way to an attendee’s heart is through his or her stomach. Offer quality food and that great experience and you will have done your job in this area.
Be comfortable with these five areas during your site inspection and you should have a great program.
For more information, or help with a meeting or event, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call American Meetings, Inc. @ 866-337-7799