Do you think site visits are unnecessary because everything can be seen online these days? If so, you’re in good company. That said, the popular answer is not always the wisest one. If you don’t see a property before booking it, you’re taking a huge risk.

For those who don’t do site visits, and for those who do and have to defend them, try this exercise: Look at a house in that’s for sale in your neighborhood. As you drive by, pay attention to the details. Is the property on a busy road? Are any neighboring houses in disrepair? Does the area have a particular smell from a factory/bakery, etc.? Are there power lines in its backyard?

Now look that same home online.

Would you buy the house based on the web photos and descriptions? Would you agree that what you see online is not an accurate representation of what you saw firsthand? Usually the answer is yes. And even if in this particular instance it wasn’t, you get the point.

Most of us think of inspecting the hotel when we talk about site visits. If your site inspection begins when your CSM greets you in the lobby, you’re leaving things undone.

Consider these questions:

Is the closest airport the best option? Does it have the appropriate lift from where your group is traveling? (Think international travel, direct flights, number of flights, carriers and size of equipment).

How long does it take to get to the hotel and what will traffic be like when your guests arrive?

What does a cab cost?

How does the airport’s track record compare to others in the area? If it’s prone to delays or canceled flights, know that in advance and make an educated decision about whether this is the best place for your meeting.

That’s just the beginning. On your way to the hotel, pay attention to the scenery. Is the hotel in a safe neighborhood? Does the surrounding area present the image you desire? Are there routes that attendees should direct cab drivers to use for  the quickest or least expensive ride?

Take notice of the street the hotel is on. Is it a busy? In a secluded part of town? Surrounded by or within walking distance of bars and restaurants? All options can be good or bad depending on your goal.

Don’t stop there. Consider whetherthe approach to the hotel inspires excitement or a yawn? Keep in mind that attendees form impressions from the moment they get to the airport, so even if they have a great trip to the property, if their arrival is lackluster and you want them wowed, you may need to adjust . The opposite is true, as well. If you’re holding a strictly business meeting or your company is cutting back, a grand entrance can send the wrong message no matter how affordable the rooms.

The details make or break a program. Hopefully this helps you add a few more to your must-do checklist.

Want an on-site site visit checklist? Email [email protected]