“Good” Advice: Aim at Site Selection for a Successful Event
Planning an event or meeting involves research and preparation. Determining the best time and location can raise dozens of questions about whether a site is the best fit for your client's needs. So how do you make it easier in order to have a successful event?
Let’s take this scenario for example: You’ve narrowed down your next event or meeting space to three options: A, B and C, but still aren’t sure which one would be the best. Your final decision must be attractive to attendees, work in with your client's brand profile and have the appropriate amount of space to accommodate both attendees and activities. Choosing an unpopular location or a poor fit could spell disaster for the meeting you worked so hard to plan.
In order to avoid disaster, Janet Good, account executive with MC2 and CTSM, states that it’s a necessity to conduct a site inspection.
To conduct a thoroughgoing site inspection, you need to have all your documents in front of you at all times. Have all questions ready to ask facility management and a checklist of items you will need to look for during your visit. Since you’re likely visiting 2-3 sites, all of your rankings-data will start to blend together, so it's a good idea to take pictures along with your detailed notes on each aspect of the site.
Click here for a sample site selection rating worksheet from Marcia Neu as recommended by veteran meeting planner and consultant Corbin Ball. With it you'll be able to tailor the weight factors of each hotel to your own specifications. Remember that the weighing factors should be set up in advance so that your personal bias isn’t affected in the rating.
After ranking your top choices, break down your list even more to examine your notes and determine which site best suits your client in budget, destination activities, square footage, etc.
Good also states that it’s imperative that you meet directly with the hotel staff that you’ll be working with – reservations, catering, A/V, etc.
“You've been working with the hotel sales office for a good while selecting the site, now it’s time to move past the sales team and meet who you will actually be working with,” Good says. “Talking with the people you will be working with on site is key. These individuals will be part of your daily task force.”
When you tour the facilities, think like an attendee. Sample the banquet food, check out the local shops, and check the bedrooms. Good jokes that you should always check for bedbugs, but also stated that it’s a definite must during your site inspection.
Properties have changed their ways of appealing to their customers. Good states that they’ve done so because it’s now a sellers’ market instead of a buyers’ market. Meaning that hoteliers have a deciding advantage when negotiating with meeting planners – ultimately making it harder for you to get the rates that you’ve become accustomed to in previous negotiations.
In order to get the negotiation you want, Meetings & Conventions writer Sarah J.F. Braley has noted several tactics to go by:
- Learn the value of your business and know how to sell it. What makes your business more attractive than others?
- Keep your contacts and properties close and befriend them. Those contacts will help you leverage your business in other areas.
- Compromise with what you may or may not need. For example: is a gym critical to your attendees? The site may be able to offer something better than what you’re currently thinking of. Be open to change.
- Flexibility is always key when looking at sites. Have a couple of dates in mind, so you’re able to pick and choose which would work best for both you and the site.
- Commit to more than one year of events – that is, if your business uses the same destination every year
- Put another offer on the table from a competing site and see if the one you’re negotiating with can match and/or beat it.
With a thorough site selection process, – you will ensure that attendees have the best time at the hotel chosen for your event. To do that you need to plan accordingly — often 2-3 years in advance in order to guarantee the best site. Once you’ve done so, you’ll be on your way to a successful event – one for the record books.