Even before Covid 19 I was a big fan of the virtual site inspection. If you don’t have time to get to the venue to look at it, and need to make a quick decision, a virtual site inspection is the way to go.
Some examples of scenarios:
One of my clients lives in the UK, his meeting planner lives in San Francisco, I am in San Diego and the hotel we were looking at was in Singapore. There was no way the four of us were going to sync up our schedules, hop on an airplane and make it to the site inspection before someone else took our dates.
Another client I have is four partners all living in different parts of the country. They wanted to make a collaborative decision, and all look at the same thing at the same time. They were unable to make it to hotel all at the same time, so a virtual site inspection was the only choice we had to view the property.
Now with Covid restrictions on travel and closed hotels, I have clients looking at booking meetings in 2022, 2023 and beyond. We don’t want to lose our dates and we don’t want to wait until the world opens back up, but we do want to see the properties. If you have never done a virtual site inspection, you better verse yourself in how to do one. It’s here to stay. This method is just another channel to illuminate your property and keep it on our radar during our decision making process.
Below are some tips for hoteliers and venue operators that I have discovered while being a client on a virtual site inspection.
Have 2 people involved: It’s best to have one person holding the phone/camera and another person physically doing the tour. I’ve been on virtual site inspections where the person giving the tour is the person doing the video and that is a mess. They trip, fall, and lose us in the elevator. Plan it out so there are 2 of you. We will have questions along the way and it’s distracting for you to be tour guide and camera operator. It gets ineffective really quick if it’s just you.
Show us what we want to see first: I know, your hotel has the most amazing fitness center west of the Mississippi and that beehive courtyard with your sustainable garden is second to none, but, sometimes I don’t care about that. Ask me in advance the top 3 things I want to see to feel that the virtual site will be productive, then show me. For the most part, we want to see what our attendees will see when we enter the hotel. What is the sense of arrival like? Take me to the meeting space next, and then to a guest room. If we have time after that, and if it is important to the inner workings of our group, show me everything else. It’s likely if I am doing a virtual site inspection, that we will schedule a planning meeting as we get closer and then I will deep dive into the details of the property from there. The beehive won’t be one of the deciding factors for me to pick your property or another one. You can mention it on the site as a factor that differentiates your property, but don’t take me to the roof in your bee catcher costume during a virtual tour. Save that for when I come out in person.
No Dog and Pony Show: There is a time and place to meet your bosses. We love knowing the hotel wants our business and do eventually want to meet your AV Director. This is not one of those times. If your jam is to make every site inspection special and custom, think of ways you can do that within the time and technology limits of a virtual site inspection. Is there something fun you can wear on the site inspection? Perhaps you can send something relevant to the client’s business to them in advance of the site or after the site? Maybe there is a theme that is developed on the site inspection and you can send something to the client after that ties the theme and your hotel together. I’ve seen some hotels send my client custom “Blue Light Blocking Glasses” before the site as that ties in. I’ve seen other convention center or AV companies send Virtual Reality after the site inspection that is a video of what we saw. You can do creative things to earn the business that doesn’t involve a cheer from the front desk or a bunch of stops to different departments. When you’re in person, that is when you can have the full dog and pony show and we’ll appreciate it. When we’re doing a virtual site inspection, it’s likely we’re pressed for time on the call and to make a decision to respecting that is appreciated.
Do a test run: You’d be surprised how many virtual site inspections I’ve been on where it’s the first time the hotel person has ever done one and it’s clear they are not very tech savvy. If you’re not, that’s totally OK but practice makes perfect. Even if you are tech savvy but have never done a virtual tour before, do a test run. And, if you’ve done many of them, do a test run on the day of the tour. You never know what antics you’ll encounter on the way and being prepared for those before we got on the call is a smart move. Confidence in your route and your technology will instill confidence in your hotel’s ability to host the meeting. Before ever doing a virtual site inspection, do a run through with one of your colleagues. Have someone be at their desk at home or in an office so you can determine which way to hold the phone, what access points lose cell phone service, what shows well and what does not. This way, while on the site, you can start off by being the expert. You can tell us to adjust our volume or warn us we may lose service in the meeting space elevator. If you prepare us for it, then it won’t look like a foible on the site making you look unprepared. Whether it’s in person or virtual, we want to know that you’ve thought about our program and how it can work at your hotel. Doing a test run will show us that, and help you get more comfortable with the process.
I can go on for days about site inspections virtual or in person. When I was on the hotel side, this was an area in which I was very passionate. Being on the client side, I’ve seen it all—the most custom effective site inspections to the ultimate bombs. Humans are so visual and this is one chance to visually illustrate your product.
If you have any questions on how to best host a virtual or in person site inspection, reach out to me anytime. I go into deep detail about Killer Site Inspections in a chapter of my book—Sales Tales.
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