by Lauralee Shapiro, CMP
When you have a short list of properties to consider for your next off-site meeting or conference, you should always try to do a site inspection of each hotel. Here are the top three things to look for on a site inspection.
1. First Impression
The hotels like to control the arrival experience. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Whenever possible, I like to arrive unannounced. This lets me see the realarrival experience; the one that the attendees will have. Are the associates friendly when to you when you first arrive? Did they smile and welcome you? This is a good indicator of the level of service your attendees can expect to experience.
2. Guest Room
In addition to looking at the overall cleanliness of the room, you should pay attention to amenities in the guest room. Knowing your attendees’ needs will help with this. If there are a lot of females in the group, a make-up mirror may be important. If it is couples or double occupancy rooms, two sinks may be important. Whenever time and budget permit, it is always best to stay at least one night at the hotel so you can see how comfortable the bed is, if the room is soundproof from street and guest room corridor noises etc. Lastly, always ask to be shown the worst room in the hotel. Your salesperson will always show you the best rooms they have. Unless they can guarantee that your all attendees will receive this exact room, ask to be shown what the “other” room types are that make up the Run of House rate.
3. Meeting Space
There is laundry list of items to consider with regards to the meeting space but here are my top three.
a) Obstructions – large overhead lighting and pillars can obstruct the view and make it difficult to plan seating / staging and audio visual.
b) Air Walls – Check to see their condition; are they dirty and torn up. Also check if they have double air walls – this will give you a sound barrier and cut down on noise spill over from the group on the other side.
c) Service Corridor – If it is right behind your general session, you may have noise issues from the staff and kitchen preparations. Have a look and ask what kind of system they use to notify the staff that there is a meeting in that room. While back there, look around to see how organized the “back of the house” is. Is it clean and tidy? If the back of the house is clean, chances are, the front of the house (the part the guests see and experience) will also be well taken care of.
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