Planner-to-planner tips for site visits: by being fully prepared you'll get the most out of your visit to determine if it is the ideal location for your group.

Author:Gabri, David
Position:PLANNING FRANCHISE SYSTEM CONVENTIONS
 
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Meeting professionals agree that there is no substitute for a site inspection. It provides the opportunity to experience the destination to determine first-hand if it will work for your group, and to meet and connect with the staff: But are there tips on how to make the most of your site visit? We asked several experienced meeting professionals to provide some helpful hints for site visits, and here are their suggestions.

Tim Brown, partner with Meeting Sites Resource, said, "Assuming the hotel meets all of our stated criteria, I want to know what other groups are in-house over our dates, and what other meeting and event activity will take place in adjacent function space."

Brown also suggests that you find out how the hotel addresses security--such as guest safety, equipment in meeting rooms, and proprietary information.

Joan Menzer, director of conferences and events for the Association of Governing Boards of Colleges and Universities, recommends that you always ask if any part of the hotel or resort will be closed or under renovations during your program.

"I once booked a specific meeting room," said Menzer, "because of its beautiful French doors and access to a lovely private terrace, only to discover that the terrace was being ripped out and replaced during our program. The beautiful French doors were even blocked off by plants, so the natural light and outdoor access we were expecting were gone!"

Steve Hines, president of Onyx Meetings and Events, advises that you should "ensure that assurances like 'That shouldn't be a problem,' or 'I'm sure we can work something out' are followed up by specifics as well as something in writing that actually commits the property to what is agreed to during the site inspection, prior to signing the agreement."

Hines also recommends that whenever possible insist that the convention services manager who will be assigned to your group accompanies you on the site inspection. "It's a lot easier to have confidence that execution will match expectations when you're looking at the person who has to make it happen for you," said Hines.

Kaaren McNulty, corporate director of meeting procurement for Genuine Parts Co., recommends that "planners should ask how much it costs for high-speed Internet service in their on-site office, and then negotiate to get it at the same rate as it costs in a sleeping room."

David Betke, manager of meeting services for Blue Cross Blue Shield Association...

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