How to spend your time wisely when doing a site inspection
Doing a site inspection – a thorough, in-person review of a potential destination or venue – is one of the most critical aspects of event planning. As site inspections can be both costly and time-consuming, it’s essential to make sure that you’re asking the right questions to make the most out of the experience. Here are 6 things you must consider to make the most out of a site inspection:
Beyond looking at the cleanliness and appearance of the rooms, you must always ask what the room types are and how many are available to weigh up the hotel’s appropriateness for your guests. If you’re not able to stay overnight in a room, we definitely recommend at least checking for Wi-fi, facilities and amenities provided, and the number of power points – remember, if you are including accommodation as part of your event, your guests will ultimately associate their hotel experience with the overall experience at your event.
Something that’s easily overlooked is an inspection of the hotel’s meeting point (usually the lobby). Make sure that it is large enough to accommodate your guests, and make sure that it has easy access to pick-up/drop-off points. If your group is travelling during a busy period and you expect that you may be sharing the lobby with other large groups, make sure that the hotel is able to provide signage so that it’s clear to your guests where they need to meet.
2. Function/venue space
Consider the size of the space provided and its appropriateness for your event. A good venue space should be large enough to allow for comfortable flow of guest movement (especially for celebratory events like awards nights) – but not so vast that the room feels empty and cold! Many function spaces can provide partitions or drape a curtain to visually break up spaces and create a better feeling of intimacy.
You should also consider the customisability of the space. Different venues differ in terms of what they can provide to help you create ambiance and brand the space. Venues usually also differ in terms of the production equipment available, which can be a major cost consideration, especially if you need to hire and bring in your own AV.
3. Food and beverage
Always consider the restaurant’s seating capacity against the number of expected guests. You may find it a more comfortable experience, especially if you have a lot of guests attending, if you can book out the entire restaurant for exclusive use.
Beyond simply tasting the food (which, of course, should be delicious!), take note of how quickly your food is served, and the waitstaff’s demeanour and attentiveness – these are important indicators of what the service will be like at your event. You may also want to take a holistic look at all the restaurants in your event – are the formats (e.g. sit-down dinners) or cuisines too repetitive across the whole program?
Lastly, take note of the restaurant’s location, and how it fits within your event’s itinerary! Dining at an exquisite Michelin-starred restaurant will not delight your guests if it’s over an hour away from the hotel at the end of a busy day.
4. Group activities
Where is the activity located, and does it sit well within your event’s itinerary? Well-chosen activities usually give a flavour of the destination or are aligned with your brand. If the activity will require a lot of travel (i.e. hours on coaches), take note of points of interest along the way and plan for bathroom and refreshment stops to allow your guests to stretch their legs.
If there is a risk-taking element to the activity (for example, jet-skiing or off-roading), always check the supplier’s safety measures to ensure your guests’ safety. Ensure that any possible accidents are covered by insurance. Also, check the instructors’ fluency in English – especially if your event is overseas!
5. Flights and airports
Take note of both the departure and arrival experience at the airports. If the airport is slow with check-ins, you will want to factor that into planning your itinerary. If you are planning a higher-end incentive, you will likely want to offer lounge access – in which case you must also consider doing a thorough inspection of the airport’s lounge. You may find that some airports can accommodate requests to slightly customise the arrival or lounge to brand your guests’ experience and make them feel more comfortable.
Even though flights are usually picked based on a combination of cost and flight path, it’s still ideal to get a feel for the in-flight experience – especially if you’re tossing between the choice of a few airlines. Does the airline offer in-flight entertainment, are the seats comfortable, and what is the food and beverage like?
We always suggest conducting site inspections with your preferred events agency. A good events professional will know what to look out for to ensure that every element is perfect for your event. They should also always provide you with a comprehensive copy of their checklist before visiting the site, which you should both work through together to ensure that no single element is missed.
If you have chosen to manage the event yourself, we still recommend drawing up a list of every foreseeable element that you need to look at, and keeping meticulous notes – it’s easy to forget elements while on-site or after the inspection!
Since 1988, Solterbeck has helped businesses engage their people through travel incentives, conferences and events in hundreds of countries around the world. Planning for an event? Contact us today and let us help you make it easy.