Smart Tips for Site Inspections

What to look for when evaluating a meeting hotel in person

Come Prepared
To make the most of your time on-site, have the following with you: a comprehensive checklist of what to look for, a list of the meeting's goals and objectives, and a spec sheet that includes all pertinent information on your company, the event, room needs, F&B requirements, etc., to share with your hotel contacts.

Conducting a site inspection -- a thorough, in-person review of a hotel under consideration for hosting your event -- is one of the most critical aspects of meeting planning. Following are some tips on how to get the most out of the experience.

Organize the visit
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 weeks or even days before the event, in some cases after the contract is signed.

Check out rooms
What to look for once you're 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 tried-and-true 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.

Ask the CSM
What is the ratio of employees to guests? What and when were the most recent upgrades to soft goods (furnishings) and the structure of the venue? Is Wi-Fi available in public spaces, meeting rooms and guest rooms?

Louise M. Felsher, CMP, CMM, is an event producer and writer who specializes in strategic global event marketing. She is based in Pacifica, Calif.