Yesterday, I did a site visit of the Hilton Meadowvale hotel. I wanted to share some tips on how to ensure you are prepared and what questions to ask during site visits:

  1. As food and beverage costs are usually the greatest costs for meetings and events, you should always ask if the venue has a meetings package. Packages include the venue rental fees and result in cost savings for your client.
  2. Another high ticket item is audiovisual (AV) costs. Most hotels have their own in-house AV company. Always ask if you can bring in your own AV supplier; this is to your advantage as you already have a close relationship with your supplier and trust their capabilities. If the venue does not allow this, do not deal with the venue. As a client, you need to have a choice with who you deal with. Hotels will let you know if their AV company isexclusive (meaning you cannot hire your regular AV supplier) or preferred.
  3. Make sure that there are no hidden fees with the preferred AV option. Sometimes, hotels charge so many extra fees that it makes it cost prohibitive to hire your AV supplier.
  4. Take notes and pictures when looking around the conference rooms; it will help you remember the space and facilitate your decision later, especially if you are looking at several venues.
  5. Ask your host if they will supply a “war room.” This is where you can store materials such as program agendas, swag bags and name tags. During the event, this is where you can hold mini meetings to resolve any issues.
  6. Ask for a written copy of their environmental initiatives. This includes what efforts the venue does to preserve natural resources (electricity, gas water).
  7. Ask whether they have a program for saving costs or earning hotel points provided the client incorporates health, wellness and social responsibility into the event. For example, Hilton Hotels offer a “Meet with Purpose Package” which offers earning 10,000 points  for running an event that includes health and corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives.
  8. Ask if the venue organizes any team building sessions during client meetings. These can include activities such as sushi rolling, paint parties or races.
  9. Determine if the venue has trained its staff to detect human trafficking. If they do not know or answer no, use this as an opportunity to educate them about the issue of human trafficking (also known as sex slavery) in Canada, which tends to occur at downtown hotels, hotels near train stations and the airport.
  10. Ask for extra concessions such as free parking for guests or complimentary accommodations for the client and meeting planner.

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