A site inspection may take some extra time, but it’s an absolute must if you want to get a good understanding of the flow of your event, the way people will experience the location, the service of the local staff, etc. Here’s some advice from An Lambrechts, our Chief Global Strategist.
1. Prepare your visit
Site inspections are often limited in time, so a good preparation is everything. Decide what you want to visit and with whom. Also, make a list of priorities: what are the requirements for the attendees, the speakers, the VIP guest, etc. Is the meeting room soundproof, is there enough (or too much) daylight, what about the catering facilities, the accessibility, the hotel rooms? Print your list, read it through on the plane and mark the places you want to visit on a city map. Make sure you have all the contact details you need and confirm each visit about half an hour in advance. Don’t forget to take photos of each location either; it helps you not to get places mixed up afterwards.
2. Planned or unannounced
Some meeting planners maintain a strong belief in unannounced site inspections, because it gives them a realistic impression of the location. We prefer to plan our visits because of one major advantage: it saves us a great deal of time. So arrange a meeting with your local contact, tell him or her what you want to see and which aspects are important to you.
3. What do you need to see
Plan your inspection with the Sales Manager and the Event Planner.
Don’t forget to inspect
- The guest rooms: visit as many room types as you possibly can, also the rooms that weren’t renovated, that are located close to the elevator, and the ones without a panoramic view. Tip: take a picture of the floor plan near the emergency exit to get a good idea of the hotel’s layout. Stay at least one night at the hotel to experience the service and comfort of the rooms.
- Meeting rooms and lobby: check the hotel access and see if guests can easily find the wau to the meeting rooms. Check the infrastructure and make an agreement with the hotel management if you want to use your own branding.
- The furniture: check the furniture that is available for meetings, dinner, etc.
- The audiovisual material: ask for the preferred partner’s (and other suppliers’) price list and conditions. Make sure you know how to operate the sound system and the lights and test the wireless connection, the acoustics and the air conditioning system yourself. See if there is a possibility to organise coffee breaks outside.
- Accessibility: try to reach the location by public transport, check if there are any bars and restaurants or a park (for morning runs) nearby and make sure the hotel is not situated too close to a highway.
- Catering: decide which food and wine you want to taste according to your budget and your wishes. Talk to the chef and explain what you want.
4. Talk to the locals
Ask your sales contact or the receptionist for their favourite places, bars, restaurants, etc. It’s a great way to get to know all the cool places and to establish a closer connection with the local people, which might be very useful if you decide to organise your event here.
5. Paying for a site inspection
Pay for your visit and negotiate to deduct the amount from the final bill of your event. Make sure your client understands the importance of a site inspection and is prepared to cover the transport costs, the accommodation and the meals you have at the location.
6. Last but not least…
Reserve some extra time in your agenda to visit your preferred location a second time. Tell your contacts how many locations you will be visiting and always ask for a detailed proposal. Your final decision should be objective, so make sure you check all the boxes on your priorities list.