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Comprehensive Site Selection Checklist for Meeting Planners

site selection checklist

Site Selection Checklist

While visiting every potential venue may only sometimes be practical, a site inspection is an invaluable step in assessing a property’s suitability and current condition, as well as gauging the professionalism and demeanor of its staff.

Site inspections need not break the bank. Many hotels are open to providing complimentary room nights for meeting managers to conduct these visits – a practice we encourage you to use judiciously, reserving it for properties genuinely under consideration. Additionally, most companies allocate a budget annually for several site inspection airline tickets, making this crucial evaluation accessible.

Accessibility & Convenience:

  • Ease and Cost: Ensure accessibility and assess the associated costs to accommodate attendees effectively.
  • Proximity to Airport: Consider the venue’s proximity to the airport to facilitate travel for your guests.
  • Accessible for All: Verify that the venue permits access for people with disabilities.
  • Transportation Services: Evaluate the availability of adequate taxi and limousine services.
  • Parking Facilities: Assess the availability and costs of parking spaces for event participants.
  • Shuttle Services: Explore the availability and cost of shuttle services to streamline transportation.
  • Airport Assistance: Confirm the presence of adequate airport assistance to assist arriving and departing guests.
  • Flight Accessibility: Check the number of flights to the destination to accommodate attendees’ travel needs.
  • Destination Seasonality: Consider the seasonality of the destination, including peak and off-season periods, to plan your event effectively.

Facility Assessment:

Guest Services Evaluation:

  • Efficiency and Friendliness of Door Attendants and Porters: Start by assessing the efficiency and friendliness of door attendants and hotel porters to ensure a welcoming arrival experience.
  • Visual Appeal and Cleanliness of the Lobby: Consider the visual appeal and cleanliness of the lobby, as it sets the tone for the entire stay.
  • Registration Desk Accessibility and Efficiency: Ensure the registration desk is easy to locate and equipped with sufficient space and personnel. It should be capable of efficiently handling peak check-in/check-out times and staffed by friendly and efficient personnel.
  • Modern Elevators and Adequate Numbers: To avoid delays, check for modern elevators in sufficient numbers to serve guests, even when the facility is at total capacity.
  • Accessible and Fully-Staffed Message and Information Desk: Confirm the presence of an accessible and fully-staffed message and information desk that responds rapidly to telephone calls and ensures quick delivery of messages.
  • Availability of Essential Guest Services: Assess the availability of essential guest services, including drugstores, banks, emergency services, gift shops, concierge assistance, and safety deposit boxes, to cater to guests’ needs.
  • Comfort and Cleanliness of Rooms: Examine the comfort and cleanliness of rooms, ensuring furniture is in good condition and bathroom fixtures are modern. Lighting is sufficient. There is adequate closet space with hangers for guest convenience.
  • Safety Measures in Rooms: Look for smoke detectors and posted fire exit information to ensure guest safety.
  • In-Room Amenities: Check for a room’s refrigerator or wet bar for added guest comfort.
  • Hallway Lighting and Cleanliness: Confirm the adequacy of lighting and cleanliness in hallways, contributing to guest satisfaction.
  • Availability of Beverage and Ice Machines: Ensure the availability of beverage and ice machines on each floor for guest convenience.
  • Service Elevator Accessibility: Evaluate the accessibility of service elevators, which is crucial for efficient event logistics.
  • Room Size and Special Guest Services: Compare the sizes of standard rooms versus deluxe rooms and verify the availability of “towers” or executive floors that offer special guest services.
  • Accessibility for All Guests: Ensure rooms are equipped to accommodate people with disabilities to promote inclusivity.
  • Suite Options and Reservations: Assess the number of types of suites and the availability of suite floor plans, keeping in mind your attendees’ diverse needs.
  • Reservation Procedures and Policies: Familiarize yourself with reservation procedures and policies to streamline the booking process.
  • Room Category Classifications: Check room category classifications, including floor/number, non-smoking options, ocean views, and the number available in each category.
  • Early Arrivals and Late Departures: Determine the number of rooms available for early arrivals and late departures to accommodate your event’s schedule.
  • Convention and Rack Rates: Review the convention and rack rates for individual guests outside the group to provide clear information to your attendees.
  • Rate Confirmation Date and Guarantee Requirements: Be aware of the date the hotel will provide firm rates and understand the guarantee and deposit requirements for bookings.
  • Check-In and Check-Out Hours: Confirm check-in and check-out hours to align with your event’s schedule and avoid conflicts.
  • Room Block Cutoff Date: Note the cutoff date for room blocks to ensure attendees can secure accommodations within the event block.
  • Payment and Refund Policies: Familiarize yourself with check-cashing policies, the type of credit cards accepted, and the refund policy for cancellations.
  • Non-Smoking Floors and Planned Changes: Check the number of non-smoking floors, both standard and concierge levels. Also, be aware of any planned renovations and discussions regarding hotel ownership changes.
  • Health Club Availability and Costs: Determine the availability, hours, and cost of the health club, as it may interest some attendees.
  • Telephone Access Charges: Evaluate telephone access charges, including long-distance, local, and calling card fees, to provide transparency to your attendees.
  • Room Key System: Confirm the critical system for guest rooms to ensure smooth access for attendees.
  • Adequate Parking Options: Assess the adequacy of parking space, whether it’s provided free of charge or for a fee, and communicate this information to your attendees.
  • Emergency Preparedness: Review the hotel’s emergency plan and ensure emergency exits are marked for guest safety.
  • Room Category Comparison: Compare the options available for king-bedded versus double-bedded room categories to cater to various guest preferences.

Environmental Considerations:

  • Local Attractions: Explore the availability of local attractions to enhance the overall experience for attendees.
  • Shopping: Assess nearby shopping options to accommodate guests looking for retail therapy.
  • Recreation: Consider recreational opportunities to provide engaging activities for your event participants.
  • Restaurants: Evaluate the local restaurant scene to ensure various dining options for your guests.
  • Weather Conditions: Keep an eye on the area’s weather conditions to plan accordingly for your event.
  • Appearance: Assess the overall aesthetics and visual appeal of the surrounding area.
  • Safety: Prioritize safety by investigating the safety of the surrounding areas.
  • Community Economic Health: Understand the community’s economic health to gauge its vitality.
  • Reputation for Hosting Meetings: Research the area’s or facility’s reputation for successfully hosting meetings.
  • Local Conventions Bureau Support: Check the availability of support and services from the local conventions bureau.
  • Experienced Suppliers: Ensure professional suppliers, such as audiovisual firms, exhibit service contractors, temporary help, and security, are accessible to meet your event’s needs.

Meeting Space Planning:

Meeting rooms come in all shapes and sizes, with several obstructions and inadequacies. The meeting manager must evaluate the potential of each room under consideration. They should measure the room, prepare scale diagrams, incorporate all equipment, staging, and decorations, and calculate the desired square footage per person for the required setup. Below are some questions the meeting manager should be prepared to answer before the site selections. 

  • Room Requirements: Determine the meeting rooms needed to host your event effectively.
  • Additional Meeting Needs: Consider whether meeting rooms besides the formal program are required for committee and business meetings.
  • Session Attendance: Estimate the expected attendance for each session to allocate appropriate space.
  • Seating Styles: Decide whether attendees will be seated in theatre, classroom, or conference styles, depending on your event’s nature.
  • Audiovisual Accommodation: Evaluate if rooms with high ceilings and no columns or obstructions are necessary to facilitate audiovisual presentations.
  • Refreshment Areas: Plan for spaces in or near the meeting rooms to accommodate refreshment breaks.
  • Pre and Post-Meeting Space: Determine the requirements for pre and post-meeting spaces for affiliated ancillary groups.
  • Room Dimensions: Gather information about the dimensions of the meeting rooms to ensure they meet your event’s needs.
  • Seating Capacities: Understand how many people each meeting room can accommodate in various seating configurations.
  • Audiovisual Equipment: Check the availability of audiovisual equipment in each meeting room to support presentations.
  • Registration Area: Assess whether a dedicated registration area is needed to streamline the check-in process.
  • Breakout Rooms: Verify the availability of breakout rooms, which can be crucial for various sessions and discussions.
  • Speaker Staging: Ensure a staging area exists for speakers and presenters to address the audience effectively.

Evaluate meeting room sizes, configurations, and any obstructions. Determine the required meeting rooms based on your event’s agenda and estimated attendance. Consider the setup style (theater, classroom, conference) and the need for audiovisual capabilities.

Ensure there is enough space for refreshment breaks and affiliated ancillary groups.

Food and Beverage Services:

  • Public Outlets: Examine the public dining outlets’ appearance and cleanliness to ensure a pleasant dining experience.
  • Food Preparation Areas: Assess the cleanliness and hygiene of food preparation areas to guarantee safe and high-quality meals.
  • Adequate Staffing: Ensure sufficient staffing to provide timely and efficient service, especially during peak dining times.
  • Staff Attitude: Evaluate the attitude and professionalism of personnel to enhance the overall dining experience.
  • Service Efficiency: Prioritize prompt and efficient service to accommodate event schedules.
  • Menu Variety: Review the menus for diverse preferences and dietary requirements.
  • Cost Range: Consider the cost range of dining options to align with your event’s budget.
  • Reservation Policies: Understand the reservation policy to ensure attendees can secure their dining arrangements.
  • Additional Food Outlets: Explore the feasibility of adding additional food outlets for services like continental breakfast and quick luncheon during peak times.
  • Public Outlets for Group Functions: Consider the feasibility of using public dining outlets for group functions during non-peak hours to optimize convenience and costs.

Group Functions:

  • Quality and Service: Prioritize the quality of service to enhance the overall experience of group functions.
  • Diverse Menus: Offer diverse menus to cater to various preferences and dietary requirements.
  • Creativity and Specialization: Encourage creativity and access to companies specializing in unique catering services.
  • Cost Considerations: Understand costs, including tax, gratuities, projected price increases by the time of the meeting, and any extra labor charges for small group functions.
  • Liquor Laws: Familiarize yourself with liquor laws, including any restricted serving times.
  • Cash Bar Policies: Review cash bar policies, including bartender costs, minimum hours, cashier charges, and drink prices.
  • Refreshments: Consider break pricing and guarantee policies, particularly when guarantees are required and the number of refreshments prepared beyond the guarantee.
  • Special Services: Ensure special services are available, such as tailored menus, theme parties, unique refreshment breaks, food substitutions, table decorations, and dance floors.
  • Banquet Round Size: Determine the size of banquet rounds, including 5′ or 6′ options that accommodate ten people.
  • Room Service: Assess the diversity of room service menus, availability, promptness, contact information, delivery efficiency, and service quality.

Exhibit Space Considerations:

  • Loading Docks and Proximity: Evaluate the number of loading docks and their proximity to the exhibit areas for efficient setup and dismantling.
  • Freight Receiving Area: Confirm the availability and location of the freight receiving area for easy logistics.
  • Utility Location: Understand the location of utilities, such as power sources and data connections, to support your exhibit needs.
  • Maximum Floor Load: Ensure that the facility’s floor can support the maximum load requirements for your exhibit.
  • Area Security: Prioritize the security of the exhibit space to safeguard valuable displays and materials.
  • Fire Exit Locations: Identify the locations of fire exits to ensure attendee safety.
  • Proximity to Amenities: Consider the proximity of the exhibit space to food service areas, restrooms, and telephones for convenience.
  • Move-In and Move-Out Timing: Assess the availability of sufficient time for the move-in and move-out processes to meet your event schedule.
  • Union Relations Reputation: Research the facility’s reputation regarding union relations to anticipate any labor-related considerations.
  • Decorations and Enhancements: Explore options for decorations to enhance the facility’s appearance and align with your event theme.
  • Supplemental Lighting: Verify the availability of additional lighting to showcase exhibits effectively.
  • Proximity to Meeting Areas: Consider the proximity of the exhibit hall to other portions of the meeting to facilitate attendee engagement.
  • First Aid Station: Ensure the availability of a first aid station for immediate medical assistance, if needed.
  • Office Space for Support: Confirm the availability of office space for the exposition manager, service contractors, and suppliers to coordinate exhibit operations.
  • Crate Storage Areas: Inquire about crate storage areas and associated policies to manage exhibit materials effectively.

Office and Additional Services:

  • Sufficient Space for Business Needs: Ensure enough space for necessary furniture and equipment to support your event’s operations.
  • Adequate Lighting: Assess the lighting quality to create a conducive and comfortable workspace.
  • Attendee-Friendly Design: Confirm that the venue’s layout is attendee-friendly and easy to navigate.
  • Adequate Electrical Outlets: Check for sufficient electrical outlets to power devices and equipment.
  • Telephone Access: Verify the availability of house telephones or telephone jacks for efficient communication.
  • After-Hours Space Security: Understand the venue’s ability to secure space after hours to safeguard valuable equipment and materials.
  • Tentative Agenda Flexibility: Determine if the hotel is flexible regarding the tentative agenda or if a signed contract locks in the meeting space.
  • Wheelchair Accessibility: Ensure that the doors to meeting rooms are wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs, promoting inclusivity and accessibility for all attendees.

Equipment and Furnishings:

  • Tables and Chairs: Ensure that the venue can provide the necessary equipment, including tables of various lengths (six feet and eight feet), schoolroom tables (15-18′), round tables (60″ and 72″), and an adequate number of chairs to accommodate your event’s seating arrangements and configurations. It is essential to facilitate smooth event logistics and attendee comfort.

In closing, the site selection process entails a meticulous journey guided by six fundamental steps:

  1. Identifying Meeting Objectives: Defining your event’s purpose and goals.
  2. Developing the Meeting Format: Crafting the structure and flow of your gathering.
  3. Determining Physical Requirements: Pinpointing the necessary infrastructure and logistics.
  4. Defining Attendees‘ Interests and Expectations:** Understanding what will engage and delight your audience.
  5. Selecting Area and Facility: Nailing down the ideal region and venue type.
  6. Evaluating Choices: Assessing all options to make an informed selection.

For those unable to personally visit locations due to the constraints of time or budget, our event staffing agency, Style & Image Network, stands ready to assist. Our team can bridge the gap by offering expert insights and on-the-ground support, ensuring your site selection is seamlessly executed.

Your vision, goals, and event success are our mission’s heart. Contact Style & Image Network to explore how we can enhance your event planning experience. Let’s make your next event an unforgettable success.

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