Are you getting the most from your site inspections for company meetings? Selecting the right venue is one of the biggest drivers of event success.
Site visits are your final review before making a decision on your venue. Done right, they can help you:
- Enhance the attendee experience
- Plan the logistics of the event space
- Experience the level of service your attendees can expect
- And ultimately, boost confidence in your venue selection
I saw a lot of site inspections during my years in group sales and marketing for a large convention hotel. Experienced planners had one thing in common: the level of detail they went into as they toured the property.
I’ve compiled a list of their questions into this handy checklist to help you get all the information you need to choose the right venue for an exceptional event.
1. First and foremost, be thorough
✔️ Your site inspection should include: guest rooms, meeting spaces, lounges, the front desk, fitness facilities, gift shop, spa and outside areas surrounding the venue.
✔️ Also find out about overflow space. Are nearby properties available in case attendance turns out to be greater than you anticipate?
2. Walk in your attendees’ shoes
✔️ View the venue through the eyes of attendees. Walk the route your attendees will take from their guest room to the event space.
✔️ Check out the property’s standard guest rooms and restaurants as well to experience the hotel as attendees would.
3. Find out what’s happening in and around your venue
✔️ Is the property planning a renovation during your dates? No one wants to walk into a lobby that’s under construction.
✔️ How full will the hotel to be at the time of your meeting? A busy hotel is a vibrant place, but attendees could face lines at the front desk and restaurants. Is the check-in desk well-staffed? Are self-check-in options available?
✔️ What’s the mix of business and leisure guests during your dates? Will you be surrounded by other professionals or families with kids? If the venue is hosting another large group, what’s the name or the industry? Is the hotel likely to be filled with banking executives? Rowdy salespeople? A college reunion?
4. Check out standard guest rooms where most attendees will sleep
✔️ Are the beds comfortable?
✔️ Do guest rooms have Wi-Fi? What are the daily fees, if any?
✔️ Are bathrooms clean and fixtures up-to-date?
✔️ Do rooms have smoke detectors and visible fire-exit information?
✔️ In the corridors, are emergency exits clearly marked?
✔️ Are swanky suites available if your company plans to host meet-and-greets? Consider negotiating suite upgrades, if available.
✔️ What room categories does the hotel offer (nonsmoking, ocean or garden view, etc.)? How many rooms are available in each category?
✔️ What are the check-in and checkout times?
✔️ Does the hotel have a complimentary-room policy? Many hotels offer one free room for 50 paid. If yes, is the ratio negotiable?
✔️ Can the hotel accommodate early arrivals and late departures? This is always a plus for “bleisure” travelers, eager to combine business travel with leisure.
5. Take a good look at the meeting space
✔️ Inspect the rooms that are available for your group.
✔️ What are the meeting room charges? Don't assume meeting space will be free. For example, some venues offer conference rooms for free but charge for ballrooms.
✔️ Will chandeliers, columns or beams obstruct views? How are the acoustics?
✔️ Is space available for breaks just outside the meeting rooms or nearby?
✔️ Do rooms have adequate soundproofing?
✔️ What groups will be in the space next to yours? If your meeting room has air walls (divider walls between sections of ballrooms) you'll want to know exactly what's happening next door during your meeting. Team building exercises? Activities with music?
✔️ How’s the traffic flow from guest rooms and elevators to your meeting room? How about from meeting room to meals? This reduces the potential for attendees getting lost.
✔️ What’s the cleaning schedule for meeting space and corridors?
✔️ Are public restrooms near your meeting space clean and up-to-date?
✔️ Does the hotel have in-house or preferred suppliers for AV services?
5. Experience the food and beverage
✔️ How’s the hotel food?
✔️ What are the standard group offerings for meals and breaks?
✔️ Are special services available, like customized menus, theme parties and decorations?
✔️ Are taxes and gratuities included in F&B costs? Will extra charges apply for events that run over schedule?
6. Check phone service and Wi-Fi
✔️ What Wi-Fi access is available throughout the hotel? Is service free? If no, what’s the charge?
✔️ How’s cellphone service? Check it out in the guest rooms, lobby, bar and meeting space. Attendees will receive emails during your event. Nothing annoys them more than no cell service.
✔️ While you have your phone out, how about snapping a few pictures along the way? If you see several hotels in one day, distinctions can blur by the time you get back to the office.
7. Protect yourself
✔️ If you like what you see on the site inspection, go ahead and commit.
✔️ But first, reduce risks by reviewing the hotel’s confirmation and cancellation/attrition refund policies.
✔️ What are the hotel’s guarantee and deposit rules?
✔️ What’s the room block cutoff date?
Take this checklist with you on your next site inspection and make booking the right venue a breeze.