Many site inspection checklists for event planners are available on the Internet. I won't re-hash their content. Instead, I'll focus on a few ways that you (or your foreign DMC) can add value during location scouting and site inspections.
All these suggestions are based on lessons learned in the school of hard knocks. By adding these items to your site inspection checklist, you can minimize complaints and reduce bottlenecks during conferences and corporate events.
Inquire About Possible Savings if the Client Shifts Their Stay by 1 or 2 weeks.
Sometimes a week can make the difference between high and swing season. For locations like Dubai, rates are higher during periods like Russian holidays. Groups can realize significant savings by re-scheduling.
Always do a thorough inspection of the beach as early as possible in the morning.
I have seen everything from beer bottles and cigarette butts to condoms on the beach the morning after a beach party. Also, don't be afraid to take off your shoes and wade in up to your calves. How else will you know if the beach is rocky or if there is an abundance of seaweed? For sure these are things that your guests will complain about.
Check out the children's program and the nursery.
Speak to the director. Ask for specific details about programming, meals, staff qualifications, etc. Examine the books and DVDs. Consider bringing extra material if what is provided is out-dated. When mothers are on property complaining, it's too late. If children won't return to the children's programmed because the newest video is Shrek or they are bored, this can derail your business meeting.
Go behind the scenes.
It's amazing what you can discover about cleanliness and state of repair if you use stairwells or access a property through loading docks.
Speaking of loading docks, if the group will have a lot of equipment or supplies, always ask if the property has a loading dock.
Loading docks are especially important for downtown hotels and they are a great convenience for you and your client.
Do a taste test.
Many hotels and event venues will do a taste test for a reasonable fee. If the venue is local, ask the client to have the pickiest eater (or the one with the most discerning palette) and someone who requires a vegetarian meal join you. (There have been numerous comments in LinkedIn Groups and Twitter about vegetarian options being sub-par.)
Are irons available?
If they are, it's best to reserve them in advance. Clothing does get wrinkled when stuffed in suitcases. Departure for off-site dinners can be significantly delayed if there is a run on irons.
Clarify if laundry services are available and if it is provided on-site or off-site. Confirm turnaround times.
Business meetings can be significantly delayed if pressing or laundry has not been returned from an off-site laundry for the speakers or attendees. It's best to be clear and set a special pick-up and delivery time for pressing on the first day even if there is an extra charge.
Inquire about executive or club floors. Inspect an executive room and the lounge.
Often upgrades are reasonable and, for a small group, it may make sense to give all executives access to the lounge and amenities.
- Always ask about extras and associated fees. Be sure to inform the client.
- Is luggage transfer upon arrival available? What about luggage pick-up on the last day?
- Are room drops possible?
- Can gift packages be purchased and distributed to guest rooms?
- Can you arrange a dedicated concierge? (My company has been able to hire off-duty hotel staff to fulfill this role.)
- Is butler service available?
- Can the hotel provide flowers in guest rooms?
- Is there complimentary shoe shining or pressing?
- Is nightly turn-down service available?
Attention to these details during location scouting and site inspections can transform an event from good to great.
Check back. We'll soon discuss some of the extras you can find out about from hotels and convention bureaus to enrich corporate events and conferences.
Need to inspect sites at a distant or international destination? Use the Cvent virtual tours of meeting and event facilities.