7 Ways for Hotel Planners to Supercharge Their Hotel Site Visits
As a hotel planner, you have one chance to make an unforgettable impression on corporate event clients during a site visit. Set yourself apart with these ideas.
It’s an anxiety familiar to every hotel planner competing for business: when corporate planners are surveying potential sites for their next big event, the unseen competition lurks – what are the other hotels doing to wow their corporate guests? You have one chance to render that question irrelevant by making an unforgettable first impression – and anything less could cost you the booking.
Here are a few ideas you can use on your own to set yourself apart, and a few others that a destination management company can help with, too:
Build Anticipation Before the Visit
By sending a getting-to-know-you survey before the site inspection, icebreakers will come more easily, and the tour can be (at least partially) tailored around the client’s preferences. For example, if a client is a big sports fan, an activity at an iconic sports venue could be a good stop. You could also draw them in with an invite of some sort. For example, a hotel in Los Angeles could send a “red carpet” invite pointing out “stars” who are attending, such as the client, the hotel, and other key venues they’ll encounter during the site inspection.
Incorporate All Five Senses
Every site visit should strive to incorporate all five senses into the experience – it’s a psychological way to help corporate planners remember their visits to your hotel above your competitors’. Visit the kitchen (and the bakery, specifically) for an intimate tasting with the chef. Don’t just look at the views from a window, go out to the cliffs to see the vistas, hear the waves, and smell the ocean. If your hotel happens to have an herb garden, have a chef pick a few and explain what they’re used for – then let the client smell and taste them. Visit the spa, and maybe set up a simple head-and-neck or hand massage. Then give something (think: aromatherapy) to remind the planners how relaxing the spa was. The more senses you can include, the more vivid the client’s memory of the visit will be.
Coordinate Transportation That’s More than Point A to B
The challenge of getting clients to several different spots on huge hotel properties can be turned into an advantage by using local tour companies with fun modes of transport, such as Jeeps, ATVs, or other vehicles that can also reflect the theme for the site visit itself. It’s an efficient (and entertaining) way to shuttle the client around.
360DG’s Orange County office recently hired vintage Volkswagen buses (and their owners) to be stationed at a beach location across the street from the hotel. A photographer was on hand to take photos of the clients posing with the buses, and those photos were later printed and among the goodies in the gift baskets placed in the clients’ rooms.
Take Interactive Food Tastings Up a Notch
By now, every professional in corporate event planning knows that tastings need to be interactive. The key is finding opportunities to embed them further in the hotel experience. For example, 360DG’s Orlando office recently helped host a site visit in which a cheese tasting was staged in the middle of the hotel’s working kitchen, as the hustle and bustle of the staff swirled around them – something that impressed even the savvy planners. If dine-arounds are expected to be part of the program, a good destination management company can help coordinate tastings with walkable restaurants to showcase the hotel’s convenient location.
Think beyond the Hotel’s Grounds
The other consistent trend we see – and where a DMC can help – is to make sure your site visit shows off the destination as well. For those hotel site visits with a jam-packed schedule, bring
in a local entertainment act. Nothing too long, but something that’s special to your area. The 360DG Arizona team recently coordinated to bring in Sea Life Aquarium for an on-site animal presentation, while a local restaurant showcased its famous sticky buns. Both entities were near the hotel and distinct to the area.
Don’t Panic When Hurdles Arise; Just Adjust
Unexpected surprises often pop up in the process of corporate event planning. Recently, the Los Angeles office of 360DG was assisting with a two-day site visit, but the client got sick and had to cancel the entire first day, which was the only day that the big venues were available. So, 360DG shifted focus and brought her on a Rodeo Drive shopping trip to top stores they knew would speak to her personally and that only LA can provide. They were still able to work in a few venue visits, but it was their ability to adjust on the fly and customize the experience that were the biggest selling points.
Help the Client See Themselves There
For events where strong branding is crucial (like conferences or annual sales meetings), hotels can paint a picture for the client by tapping 360DG to provide mock-up images of areas in the hotel that can be custom-branded. You could even set up one spot of the site with the client’s branding so they’re literally able to get a glimpse of what the venue would look like with their collateral.
Also, don’t let the client leave without a site visit photo album full of all the venues, themes, and entertainment options, given to them on the last day of their visit. It’s a busy few days, and they’ll have many things swirling in their head – so give them something they can’t forget and will be able to share when they’re vetting their options with colleagues and management back in the home office.