Planning a site visit is nothing short of easy and it certainly isn’t one sided. In this two part blog series we are going to focus on Meeting Planners & how YOU can increase your chances for better, more productive site visits.
Help Me Help You….
Did you ever see the scene in the film Jerry Maguire where the Sports Agent is trying to win a large contract for his client? Jerry says to the client “Help me. Help you!, Help ME. Help You”! (over and over again). Gosh, I love that movie.
When it comes to a hotel site inspection; the final process before requesting a contract…
Help the Hotel… Help you!
In order for a property to put their best foot forward, detailed preparation is key. To do something well, you’ve got to communicate exactly what it is YOU want or you’ll never get it. Granted, it is the hoteliers responsibility to ask critical questions in advance, but it is in the meeting planner’s best interest to provide a thorough briefing sharing purpose, needs and expectations.
Meeting planners, only you know what is important for the success of a meeting and it’s important to convey this ahead of time to ensure you’ll have a successful and productive site visit.
So, Without further adew …
Here are our 8 Top Tips for a flawless site visit!
Tip 1 - Visit on the right day!
This may seem an obvious one, but before scheduling the site visit make sure all the areas you want to use will be available for viewing. Showing up for a scheduled visit to a property whose main ballroom and all breakout rooms are occupied by the US Secret Service and are locked down tighter than Area 51 is a complete waste of time and money. This can be completely avoided by inquiring about in-house meetings before confirming site dates & booking your flight for a visit.
Tip 2 - Help the sales manager get to know the client and the group
If you are a third party meeting planner, send a client profile form on behalf of your client. This form should include information on the client such as personal preferences, likes/dislikes and hot buttons. Give the sales manager an opportunity to know more about the customer and connect on a personal level when they come on site.
Share information on the group, meeting history, demographics of the group. How about what the purpose of the meeting is & who is coming? The more information the hotel knows about your group the more they can elaborate on why their hotel is the best one to meet your needs.
Tip 3 - Make introductions and meet the right people
Provide a list of attendees on the site visit, their titles and their role in planning the meeting. Knowing whether the person on the site visit is the ultimate decision maker or only a “recommender” gives the sales manager a guide and insight on how to perfectly tailor the site visit.
Additionally, provide a list of the people you would like to meet on your visit and request any information you may need from them ahead of time. For example, if you have intensive IT needs ensure you share those needs prior to the site visit to have a productive meeting with the IT Director. If you expect a custom built menu from the chef, schedule a lunch site visit with your top contenders to see the talent and creativity of the executive chef.
Tip 4 - Timing is Everything
Convey expectations and site visit timeline. Be clear about what you want to achieve and how much time you have available for the site visit. If you are expecting to do a 30 minute site visit at an expansive resort, the sales manager will need to know ahead a time to create a site visit with high priority items first.
Additionally, provide the timeline of the decision and next steps after the site visit. Sales managers are working on goals and deadlines and knowing next steps is critical for a hotelier to continue to hold your space or keep you in a 1st option status. In turn, another group may be waiting in the wings and your space may not last long.
Tip 5 - Outline everything you want to see
Request a meeting floor diagram with all meeting locations color coded and labeled. This will make it easy to follow along during the site visit, cut down on the amount of questions you’ll need to ask and maximize the time you have available.
If you have noticed other space not offered in the proposal that you are interested in, ask the sales manager to check availability of these rooms before the site visit. There is nothing worse than falling in love with an alternate meeting space only to find out it was never an option.
Tip 6 - Tell them what you want, what you really, really want
Outline what is important to see on the site visit. From the exact meeting space and specific guest room types (ask to see the smallest room in the hotel) to the location of the main kitchen, height of the ballroom chandelier or the location of the loading dock. If it is important to the success of your program, make it known.
Additionally, if you are in limited time; list items in order of importance. A sales manager will know where to spend the most time to ensure you leave with a good understanding of whether this hotel will work for your meeting.
If some components of the hotel are not important to the success of the meeting (golf and spa for example), let the hotel know that this can be left until the end of the visit or that you may not need to see it at all.
If you are unsure if a certain set up will fit in a meeting room, ask the hotel to have this pre-set before you arrive.
Tip 7 - Share competition information
Provide a site visit itinerary that includes the other hotels you are visiting. A good hotel sales manager will point out their advantages over the competition. You may pick up useful nuggets of information or you may be tipped off on “things to watch out for” when you visit that next property. In turn, if a sales manager speaks negatively about another hotel, you will get a clear understanding of the personality you are working with and their level of professionalism. This matters.
Tip 8 - Provide your additional wish list
Our final tip would be to give the hotel your “wish list” of items that were requested but not offered in the initial proposal. In face to face negotiations with key decision makers at the hotel, you may turn a “no” into a “yes”. And, that’s a WIN for you + your client.
That’s it folks …
Don’t schedule your next site inspection without sending a detailed agenda or briefing beforehand. The better understanding you have of your clients needs the better chance you have of meeting all of them and delivering above and beyond their expectations.
We hope these tips will help our fellow meeting planners create a productive site visit. You can also reach out to one of our Associates at Site Selection Services. We not only provide complimentary site selection, we also create detailed site visit itineraries for our clients to make each visit a productive experience. Our job is to make your job easier.
Hoteliers don’t worry, I promise; we didn’t forget about you. In just two weeks, Part 2 of this Blog post will share our top tips for YOUR side of things….!! How to WOW Meeting Planners and WIN more business!!!