Six Steps To A Great Site Inspection
In 2010, I wrote about ways for customers to make their meetings more attractive to hotels; to make them compete for the business. I decided to start 2011 by helping hotel sales people learn how to host a successful site inspection visit. This is based entirely on my personal experiences, both as a hotel sales manager and as a meeting planner.
1. Confirm in writing, as soon as possible, the day/date/time of the site inspection. Chances are, you are not the only hotel the customer is visiting. If you are the last to respond, you may get left out altogether or get a limited amount of time. The best place to be on a site agenda is the last hotel (final impression) and to either host the client for an overnight stay or at the very least, share a meal with them. Having them for a 45 minute window to show a guest room and some meeting space before they leave for the next hotel, will not do you any justice.
2. Be on time! If you have confirmed you will meet them at 10:00 am, you should be in your lobby, waiting for the clients to arrive, at least 10 minutes early. Do not leave from that spot until they have arrived. A quick trip to the restroom or to answer a phone call and you could miss them. Now you have tarnished your first impression with client and “you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression”.
3. Always have a welcome sign. It does not matter if the group is a ten person board meeting or a 5,000 person annual convention. Make them feel welcome, and ALWAYS make sure you have the correct spelling of the company and the individual names, and in the appropriate order.
4. Know their needs. Memorize or at the very least, be as familiar with the meeting agenda as the customers are. The planners live and breathe their agenda and so should you, if only for the time you have them at your hotel. If you take them to a meeting room that holds 50 people and their needs call for a room that holds 100, you have just lost credibility with them. Have a copy of the agenda with you for the walk through as well as the room names of how you currently foresee blocking the space. No one will hold you to this space but you should at least show you can accommodate their needs with comfort and room to grow.
5. Be prepared. Have a sales kit in hand with floor plans and room capacities. These should be given to the clients before you walk the conference space so they can make notes and follow along, not as an after thought as they are leaving.
6. Know the clients. If you are hosting them for a meal or overnight, get a profile on each person to know their likes, dislikes, food allergies etc. I have seen dinners hosted in a seafood restaurant with a client who is allergic to shellfish and a bottle of wine with cheese sent to a recovering alcoholic as a room gift. No one is suggesting you ask for personal information like a social security number or their kids birthdays, just basic facts that will help the hotel customize the experience.
These may all seem very basic but unfortunately, there are sales ”professionals” out there who are not doing these very simple steps. I see it all the time. The gifts, spa treatments and “wine & dine” experiences are all great but if you miss the mark on the basics, the other stuff is not going to matter and you will lose the business.