I am headed out for a site inspection next week at two hotels that have either been closed or have had low occupancy over the last 4 months. I have not been on a site inspection since mid February. I am excited to get onto an airplane and walk through a hotel. Preparing for this site inspection has provided some new surprises that I don’t normally have to consider when preparing my site agenda for my clients. I hope the steps below will help you prepare for your upcoming site inspections in the mid to post Covid Era.
Don’t assume you can just show up or drive to the hotel. We are siting JW Desert Springs which is currently closed. There are cement barriers outside the building so not even the staff can get in. We have to have the Director of Sales pick us up at a different hotel and bring us to the back road- side entrance to the hotel and sneak us in a side staff entrance. This logistic alone is complicated because there are 6 of of us plus him on the site inspection. Not all of us will fit in his car. One of us will drive a couple of us and we will follow him in and out. We can’t get into or out of the hotel without him. There is no freedom to leave early, show up late, or wander around. We also have to be sure everyone is comfortable driving arm and arm next to each other in the SUV.
Have the comfort, interaction & masks conversations with the hotel and your clients. How will you interact with your client and the hotel? A hug, handshake and fist-bump are no longer appropriate for some. To avoid it being awkward, and unsafe, talk to everyone involved from the beginning and determine what everyone is comfortable with. We all decided we were OK with a distant wave and a big smile. Since there are so many of us, and it’s 110 degrees, we can’t walk all around outside the full resort so the resort needs to take us in a golf cart. There will be no social distancing in the golf cart. We will be sweaty and sitting closely next to each other. Is that OK for everyone? If not, talk with the hotel about getting multiple carts so we can divide and conquer. Will you and your clients be wearing masks? Will the hotel be wearing masks? Is everyone comfortable if we are distanced and not wearing masks? What is the hotel’s policy on masks/face coverings AND what is that city’s policy on face covering? Having the conversations & knowing before you go is important so no one missteps and your clients are comfortable.
Ask the hotel you’re staying at what services are available and not? We are staying at Fairmont Scottsdale Resort. When asking them this question we learned that there is currently no room service. Not a big deal normally, but, 2 of the clients are driving in & one is coming from the East coast leaving very early in the morning. We’re not sure if they’ll be hungry when they arrive. If they want to be alone and eat in their rooms, they can not. If we didn’t know in advance, this might be a problem, but, since we know in advance they can plan accordingly. What bars/restaurants are open inside the hotel? We can’t just tell the tourism board partner to “meet us at the hotel bar after the site.” The pool bar is open until 5 pm. The lobby bar opens at 5 pm. Our site concludes at 4:45 pm. Our middle ground is to either meet at the pool bar—SO SWEATY & HOT—or meet in the lobby where someone will bring us a drink if we ask. But, we had to work this out in advance because our site end time was in the middle of opening and closing of two venues. We are having dinner at the hotel restaurant for 9 people. If we would have had 2 more people we’d be in violation of gatherings of 10. I assumed since all of Arizona is opening, that wasn’t a thing, but, for this hotel it was. Be sure to know what local and state policies the hotel is following or veering off to make their own rules. Valet is open at this hotel but it is not open at many hotels. For the clients driving in, it was important for us to tell them to valet park their car or self park. If valet wasn’t open, and I didn’t know, that could have been embarrassing for me, the client and the hotel. Hotels love delivering amenities on site inspections which is really kind and appreciated. However, with some of the Covid rules, once the guest enters the room, room service can not go back in so they won’t receive an amenity. Now, this is no big deal to me, but, if you have a client that “expects” a custom room drop or amenity, warn them in advance about whatever the hotel policy is. This hotel has restaurants that are open so entertaining my customers won’t be a problem while we’re there, but it is a good idea to ask what is open and what is not so you can be prepared with back up plans. Also, find out from the hotel if the pool, spa, gym and other services are open if those things are important to your clients while on a site inspection.
Don’t assume you can take Uber when you arrive: In some cities, less cars are available because they’ve decided to stop driving for their own safety reasons. Uber currently has a mask policy that it is mandatory to wear a mask when you get in through the end of June. Due to less drivers being available in certain cities, give yourself extra time to call a ride and wait for the ride. Uber community rules share that if the driver is not wearing a mask you can cancel the trip without paying a cancel fee. If you don’t feel comfortable you can send them a note and order a new Uber. No questions asked.
Flying has a whole new set of plans: Since I am flying, I am studying the best way to do this. I have not been on an airplane since early February and am not sure what to expect. I am excited to get back into the air and do believe the airplanes are cleaner than ever before but, it’s still a new experience. There are a lot of articles out there right now about flying but I found this one, that I found really helpful Thinking About Flying, Here’s what You need to know. Since San Diego is my home airport, I consulted their website and am sure glad I did. I wasn’t surprised at the restaurants and stores that were closed. I was interested in learning the terminal and security location changes. And, since I normally drive to the airport and park, the parking closures and unavailability of certain areas were really important for me to know in advance. Normally I would drive, but I will have my husband drop me off. I know that many people won’t be traveling so one would think I can get to the airport a little late because I’ll breeze through security. However, since it seems like gates, terminals and security are different, I will get there a bit in advance so I have time to navigate the unknown. Every airline has it’s own policy for masks, food, and boarding. Booking my flight was a bit of a treasure hunt as well. There are only 3 flights available from San Diego to Phoenix a day. Only 1 of those is a direct flight. The other two times didn’t work for me so I was stuck with the one that gets me there many hours before the clients. The flights for the way home only had 1 flight available and it left too early for my meetings. So, I am taking American on the way home which also had limited flights. Be sure to look in advance at all the available flight combinations and be prepared for limited service and times for flights. I reviewed both Coronavirus websites for Southwest and American. It seems that as long as I wear a mask, eat before, use my mobile boarding app that I will be good.
Overall, have the conversation with everyone involved so everyone knows what to expect when they get to the hotel. You don’t want any surprises and want to be prepared for everything. I will be prepared with extra hand sanitizer, masks, and deodorant since it will be 100+ degrees. I will report back my findings on the site inspection after the fact so check back for updates on Friday.
If you’re heading out for a site inspection and want to hear my war stories, reach out anytime, I am here to help: