Meeting Planner Life: Site Visits
If you've been around Kaliwood a while, you know that I am a Meeting Planner. If you're new, Hello. My name is Kali. And I am a Meeting Planner. And I'm certified. CMP = Certified Meeting Professional (No, this doesn't mean I'm good at meeting people. Although that's always helpful with my job.)
A Meeting Planner is basically an event planner, but in the hospitality world, they call these corporate events "meetings", "conferences", "conventions", etc. Have you ever been to an off-site training as an employee of your company? Have you ever been to a trade show or exhibit hall with booths set up for you to visit? Or have you ever attended a destination event to learn more about your specific industry? Hotel room nights, education in meeting rooms, dinner in a ballroom, and drinks and dancing at a reception? That's what I do. Plan all of that. From the moment you walk up to the registration table and receive your name badge, to the final seminar you attend, to the last sip of wine you have before calling it a night. Every little detail, all previously thought out and executed by a Meeting Planner (and staff, of course).
Next week I'll be sharing some information about the hospitality industry and the different roles people play. I didn't know anything about this industry until I was in it. I learned as I went. But, for those of you who are majoring in hospitality, or aren't but may be interested in events, my brief overview will outline the different sides of the industry and positions within each one.
But for today, we talk about site visits. One of the fun parts of my job! A site visit is when you travel to the destination of a future meeting. The point of the "site" is to tour all of the venues you are considering using and gather information about them.
Now, some people do site visits to different cities when they are trying to narrow down a location. In this case, the planner would work with the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) from that city who would take them around and try to "sell" their location.
But once the city is decided, we do a site visit to tour venues. In my case, hotels. A hotel will serve as the lodging for all of our attendees, but will also house all of our meeting space (the rooms where all of the event functions are held.)
Here is the process:
- The corporation (me) sends out a Request for Proposal (RFP) to hotels in the area. Miami in this case.
- Hotels respond with proposals if they are interested in bidding for our business.
- Based on their initial proposals, we narrow it down to ones that are potential options and include them in the site visit itinerary. At this stage we toss out ones that: Are too small (Not enough meeting space), are too big (Our event/guests would be lost. It's good to be the biggest group at the hotel at the time of the meeting so we aren't overlooked.), do not fit our budget (Room rates that are too high will hinder attendees from coming), aren't impressive (our members expect a very nice venue that is unique), as well as many other factors unique to our specific company.
- Once we schedule tours with all potential hotels, we head to Miami! Most of the hotels will offer rooms while I'm there, so I will stay in two or more hotels during the visit to get a feel for their sleeping rooms, service, etc.
My recent site visit was for our Annual Meeting in Dec 2015. Depending on the size of the event, planners contract with venues several months in advance to a few years in advance. Our city for 2015 is Miami. While we were there, we also spent a day in Fort Lauderdale for our event coming up THIS Decemeber. Since I'm new, I haven't seen the hotel yet. So it was a good chance for me to meet the staff and tour the space we are using. It will be here before I know it!
We started at the golf course with a quick tour and meeting with the staff. We did the meeting outside on the patio because it was such a beautiful day!