by Art Pfenning | April 01, 2004

The site inspection trip is alive and well, according to a survey of meeting planners conducted in March by M&C and NTM Research, eliciting 694 responses.
    Among the findings: Nearly all planners (90 percent) report they go on site inspections, and 56 percent of those say they go alone. Still,  44 percent check out hotels with at least one other person.
    Just under half, or 46 percent, always visit a hotel before booking it, while 40 percent say they sometimes inspect a property before choosing. Nearly nine in 10 respondents (85 percent) visit the hotel after booking and prior to the actual event.
    Site visits have not markedly decreased with the sluggish economy. In fact, 77 percent say they are making the same number of site visits per meeting as last year, and 9 percent are making more. This is noteworthy, in that 41 percent of those polled say their organizations pay for the site visits. Still, 30 percent visit on the property’s dime. 
    During inspections, nearly all planners check the meeting space (99 percent) and the standard rooms (98 percent); 87 percent also check the suites and the technical offerings, 73 percent inspect the health club, 69 percent sample the food offerings and 62 percent examine the spa.
    More than 90 percent of those polled say they have decided against a property after the inspection. The most mentioned reason  for giving the thumbs-down is the meeting space did not meet the planner’s needs (68 percent). Another 62 percent of respondents said the hotel needed renovations, and 40 percent said service was not up to par.