Performing a site
inspection - a thorough, in-person review of a potential
meeting venue and/or destination - is one of the most critical
aspects of planning. Following are some tips on how to get the most
out of the experience.
Back when big events were planned a year in advance, three site
visits were considered ideal: one year out (to determine site), six
months out (to check on site conditions again) and one month out
(for the final once-over).
Today, planners are lucky to manage a site visit several months
before the event, in some cases after the contract is signed.
SETTING IT UP
Typically, the planner contacts the sales representative at a
property to arrange the inspection date and time. On property, the
tours generally are conducted by the convention services manager,
who will be coordinating all of the different hotel divisions (food
and beverage, billing, housekeeping, perhaps even security) for the
Who pays for these fact-finding missions? While some hotels
will cover the cost (room and tax fees), accepting anything else
should be up to your company’s policy and personal discretion. Many
hotels will credit the hotel room cost once you sign a
What to look for on site? Start with the meeting space.
Does the property have enough to fit your needs? Are there any
obstructions? Does the sound “bleed” from one room to the next?
(Try one of these old planning tricks: Remove your shoe and see if
your toes fit under the dividing walls of meeting rooms. Or, turn
all the lights out on one side of the dividing wall; if light
bleeds through the floor or sides onto the dark side, there is a
good chance the sound will bleed through, too.)
Next, inspect the guest rooms: Are they appropriate for the
group? Is the quality and size of rooms consistent, or is there a
Note: A visual inspection might not tell the whole story. It is
always better to spend the night in a room, so you can determine
the comfort of the beds, water pressure, noise levels, etc.
TOOL OF THE TRADE
Come to the site inspection armed with the following: a
comprehensive checklist, a list of the meeting’s goals and
objectives, and a spec sheet that includes all pertinent
information on your company, the event in question, room needs,
F&B requirements, etc. You’ll need to reference this data as
you do your walk-through. If the information is not proprietary, it
might be helpful to provide the property with copies of these lists
prior to or during your visit.
And be sure to bring a notebook and a digital camera to share
information/images with your team and any other stakeholders.
A CLOSER LOOK
Other aspects to investigate include asking if the
property complies with the Americans With Disabilities Act. In
addition, how clean are the air-conditioning vents in the guest
rooms? In what condition are the hallways, elevators, kitchens and
public bathrooms? How visible is security? What is the general
demeanor of the housekeeping staff?
Finally, don’t forget to ask the CSM: What is the ratio of
employees to guests? What were the most recent upgrades to soft
goods (furnishings) and structure of the venue? Will any
construction be taking place before or during the meeting on or
near the property? If yes, and you still want to use the hotel, be
sure this is written into your contract with a no-penalty out and
reimbursement should construction disturb your meeting in any