Every event hinges on a successful hotel site inspection. It’s a make or break moment in the sales process and it’s becoming increasingly important to millennial buyers.
That’s why the site inspection represents a unique opportunity to kick-off a lasting relationship between a planner and a property. Properties need to adapt to the changing complexion of their buyers, and site visits are the piece of the event sales puzzle that offers the most room for improvement.
Here’s how properties can convert more clients by better communicating, offering a customized experience and closing the deal on site.
Communication prior to a hotel site inspection is not about making planners see your venue as the Taj Mahal. It’s about setting expectations and being transparent about the strengths (and shortcomings) of your property.
Be upfront about hidden costs or availability. If you’re |unable to show the exact space during the visit, let the planner know ahead of time. This is about aligning priorities with planners, and not shoehorning events into a space that isn’t ideal.
One simple and productive way to make communication faster and more relevant is to create a questionnaire. Ask planners for specific information about their events, and make it as easy as possible to share that information across your team. Here are just eight topics to confirm before the site visit. If you can’t offer what’s being asked, or come up with a solution, your best bet might be to skip the site visit altogether.
Communication prior to a site visit isn’t about being completely transparent.
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Did the planner give you enough lead time? Start the conversation as early as possible. If you don’t have time to prepare your team, and show the space in its best condition, you’re probably not ready to conduct a site visit.
Accurate Floor Plans
Planners have dozens of ideas for what their room-sets could look like, long before they’ve decided on a venue. If properties can provide floor plans that are 100% to scale, planners will naturally start thinking about how their event will fit. Accurate floor plans are vital. If a planner starts diagramming a room set in a space that isn’t to scale, you’re setting them up for disappointment when they arrive to find that their designs just won’t work.
If you can’t satisfy the specific food requirements for an event, don’t try to work around the issue. Don’t make promises that you won’t be able to fulfill.
Remind clients to bring in their A/V providers on the site visit. A/V experts are better at spot any problem points, or opportunities for an exciting A/V experience, long before the event.
You may find that clients have room-set layouts and specifications that worked for them at past events. Ask for diagrams of previous events to assure planners that you can accommodate their “go-to” layouts.
Train Onsite Team
In a recent Social Tables survey meeting planners indicated that they’re not always dealing with the most knowledgeable people on site. Planners are tired of hearing “Let me get back to you on that”. Be sure that your entire staff knows the ins and outs of your event space.
Knowing the specifics of the event can be a huge key to success, but not all properties will make the effort to ask the right questions. Find out exactly what kind of event is being held, will you need a wheelchair accessible floor plan? Is the event open to children? Ask the right questions in order to expertly customize the hotel site inspection.
Offer multiple dates and meeting times for the site visit. Ask if the client prefers to see the space empty, or while another event taking place. Even if you can’t always make a specific time work, questions like this help prove to meeting planners that you care.
If properties have clarity on just these eight considerations before a site visit — they’ll ensure that they’re targeting exactly the type of planner that’s ready to close.
Planners that host fewer meetings each year care primarily about cost. But as the volume of events increases, planners start to value the specifics of what your meeting space has to offer. In this case, properties need to get more creative by offering a personalized hotel site inspection.
So how are properties typically customizing site visits today? In a recent study, Social Tables asked 350 hospitality professionals about the primary ways they’re customizing site visits today.
Here are just a few repeatable ideas to make each hotel site inspection feel unique to every planner that walks in.
For Your Eyes Only
Every event is different, so don’t let your site visits be the same walkthrough every time. Create an agenda custom tailored to the planner’s needs.
Psst… Can I see Your Notes?
Odds are, event planners are toiling away with ideas and diagrams for their event long before the site visit. Ask for whatever diagrams, drawings or even napkin-sketches they have so you can start preparing your space just how they imagined it.
Ready, Pre-Set, Go!
Most planners aren’t expecting the property to pre-set the room just for them. If you have the event diagram – or simply given what you know about the event – anticipate the desired layout and surprise them when they arrive.
Put on Your 3D Glasses
If you can’t physically change the space — how can you show planners what the event might look like? These days, you don’t need to be a graphics expert to build 3D diagrams. Tools like SketchUp and Social Tables make building 3D walk-throughs as easy as using Facebook.
Get a Program Agenda
At this stage, some planners will have the event agenda locked down. But if your sales team isn’t fully in the loop — they might not realize exactly what parts of your venue they should be showcasing. Ask for the program agenda and use it to help customize the site visit agenda.
Practice Like You Play
Start at the breakfast buffet and stop by the charging stations on the way to the show floor. Deliver site visits that most closely resemble the wow of the event itself.
Deliver site visits that most closely resemble the the event itself.
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Know the Competition
There’s no problem with openly asking planners about other venues they’re looking at. Getting a sense for the competition only empowers your team to better communicate what sets your venue apart.
Discuss Past Successes & Failures
Be proactive about asking planners what’s made them successful before. That way, you can leverage the site visit as an opportunity to show them how your space can achieve the same successes. Conversely, have them share their mistakes with you. Show them that they won’t happen again at your venue.
The More You Know
This can be tricky, particularly when planners aren’t always willing to share details about their attendees prior to signing a contract. But if you know an event’s specifications in advance you can be prepared to address them when the planner arrives.
Make Room for “Wow” Moments
Find a way to help clients create a memorable experience with high-impact “wow” moments. This can be achieved at any budget. It could be as simple as a bite of food and beverage at the end of a long site visit, oras glamorous as a helicopter ride back to the airport. Leverage the strengths of your venue and y create one moment as part of your site visit.
So at the end of the day, how can a property get the deal done on site? The data shows that about 50% the time, a planner that walks outside your doors, won’t be coming back. But there are a few things properties can do to help close planners during the hotel site inspection
One Client, One Contact
For planners at a hotel site inspection – there’s often a disconnect between the individuals they’re talking to before the visit and the people actually carrying it out. Having one contact from start to finish can make a huge difference in closing the deal.
Think of site visits like a blind date. Imagine if you were texting with one person, only to find that you’re meeting up with someone completely different. Oh, and to make things worse, the Food & Beverage part of the date is with a third person entirely.
Empower each individual at your property with the knowledge they need to own the relationship, end-to-end.
Think of site visits like a blind date.
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Make Sure the Decision Maker is On Site
This is arguably the single most important ask a property can make of a prospect. Properties can lose deals because they’re talking to the wrong person, or never had the opportunity to reach decision makers in the first place. This goes right back to the critical need for communication between both sides. Your sales team needs to make sure that they’re in touch with the contract signer as early as possible.
Be proactive about asking planners about their decision-making process. That way you can ensure that you’re inviting all the right contacts to the hotel site inspection.
Do The Deal On Property
Ideally, you’ll be able to edit proposals and be flexible during the course of the hotel site inspection. That way, you can review it with a planner before they leave, and get them to sign on the dotted line. The site visit is the best place to address your client’s concerns, but if that communication isn’t on paper — you won’t be able to get a signature.
It’s super important to try and close the deal before the client leaves your venue. Work with your team to customize and edit contracts during the course of the site visit. Designate a meeting area after the site visit to get the deal closed.
One definitive way to close more deals is to learn as much as possible about your clients. Click here to download our recent report, which examines exactly how meeting planners prioritize venue selection, and how the hotel site inspection fits into their decision-making process.