There’s a joke about a planner and a CSM who are walking through a hotel. The staff is smiling, the hotel gleaming, the food wonderful, the experience perfect. The planner returns to the hotel a short time later. This time the staff is slow to respond, there are housekeeping carts in the hallway and the food is mediocre. The planner finds the CSM and says, “What happened? The last time I was here everything was perfect.” The CSM turns to the planner and says, “Oh. That was the site inspection.”
That may be an extreme example, but it will resonate if you’ve experienced a difference between a site visit and being on-site at a program. As strategic planners, it’s our job to make site visits count. No detail is too small. Because when your guests are unhappy, everything is important.
A few weeks ago we talked about what your inspection should include BEFORE you get to the hotel. Now we’ve arrived. Here are some tricks and tips that have helped me throughout the years:
Arrive at the hotel on your own (instead of letting the hotel send you a car) so you get the true arrival experience. Pay attention to how long it takes a bellman to help you with your bags, the greeting you receive, the care taken with your bags. If you can arrive as close to the arrival time your guests will have, do so. It gives you a better chance of experiencing a true-to-life situation.
Make time to sit in the lobby and observe. How long are lines at registration and the concierge desk? Are there bags all over the lobby or do the bellmen have things under control? Select someone who’s in line for check-in. How long does it take for that person to get to the desk? Do this a few times, and pay attention to staff and guest interactions.
Visit several floors after your formal tour. Make sure the cleanliness, lighting and quality of the space are equal to what you saw on your site visit.
Use the hotel. Call the operator. How many rings does it take before your call is answered? Order room service. Is the quality, temperature and taste up to par? Hit the gym in the morning during peak hours. Is it well-ventilated, clean and large enough? Call housekeeping and request extra hangers. Note the time and quality of that interaction.
Notice everything. Are the beds comfortable? Is there bleed from the hallway or the TV in the next room? Did you get the wake-up call and newspaper you requested? Is there enough drawer space for the amount of clothes that people will pack for your meeting?
How’s the water pressure? Does the tub drain? Does the shampoo lather? Are the towels scratchy? Does the iron work?
Take stock of the technical stuff. Can you get cell service throughout the building? Do you have enough outlets near the bed to plug in your phone, iPad, etc.? How’s the Internet quality in the room? Does the safe accommodate a laptop and allow it to charge while being stored?
We can’t control everything that happens around us, but we can minimize the risk by being thorough and observant in all we do. Anyone who thinks site visit is a euphemism for paid vacation, the joke will be on them when their program starts.
Want more tips and ideas? Email me at: Christy.firstname.lastname@example.org.