One of the biggest problems in planning a successful family reunion is selecting a hotel or resort that will suit everyone.
But how do you select a hotel for a family reunion?
There are two steps involved in selecting the perfect hotel for a family reunion.
Step 1: Get Group Rates From Hotels
Start by getting group rates from as many hotels as possible. Doing this will provide you competitive rates and amenities from a variety of hotels and resorts.
Getting group rates is simple. Just fill out our group rates request form with how many rooms you need and hotels in your desired city will provide room rates by email. This is a free service and sure beats having to call every hotel.
Step 2: Schedule Site Inspections
Once you have group rates, call two to three hotels that you like to schedule a site inspection. If you have never done a hotel site inspection, here is a checklist that you can use when going through the hotel.
When conducting the hotel inspection, here are the most important things to look for:
What you’re looking for is a location that offers a ton of amenities and is located in a place that has nearby activities for kids and adults.
When going through your site inspection, make sure to take a walk around the property to see what there is to do nearby.
If you are hosting the reunion at a resort, then make sure you look at all the amenities the location has to offer, how easily accessible everything is and what is not included in the price of the hotel room.
A hotel site inspection is your chance to test drive the friendliness (and competence) of the staff. Ask lots of questions about any subject related to the location, the area, and things to do.
And don’t just ask the sales manager either. Talk to the front desk, the housekeepers, and anyone else you come across during the site tour.
While their answers are important, what you are really testing for is how friendly and competent they are. A hotel that is staffed with quality employees will not only be a delight to work with, they will also help with any glitches that you will inevitably run into.
Questions you should be thinking about when assessing the staff during the hotel site inspection are:
- How friendly is everyone? Do they look happy or indifferent?
- Does the front desk staff look eager to please or uncaring?
- How excited is the sales manager about potentially hosting your family reunion?
- Is the GM accompanying you on the site inspection?
- Does it look like the staff gets along with each other?
- Does it look like the employees have been at their positions for a long time?
Much of the research into the actual rooms, hallways, lobby and meeting rooms can be done ahead of time. However, online photos can sometimes be deceptive (we are being nice).
During your site inspection, make sure you go through all the meeting rooms, hallways, and lobby to check the condition and cleanliness. Also, make sure you go through several room types with the sales manager to check their cleanliness and condition. In most cases, you are going to see what is referred to as a “show room”.
These rooms are reserved for site inspections and generally the best rooms in a hotel. To see an average room, either ask to see a different room type or better yet, stay overnight to get the entire experience. Just make sure you go unannounced. While you may know it already, just make sure to ask if the hotel has connecting rooms for family members with small kids. Ask to see one of these rooms as well.
Also, request that the family be blocked in rooms near each other so no one has to go too far. In some resorts, you many have to walk a half a mile or even take a golf cart to see family members that does not make the experience pleasant.
Here is what you should be looking at in the meeting rooms:
- Are meeting room floor plans available?
- Are there any obstructions in any of the meeting rooms that will get in the way of your banquet?
- Are the walls soundproof?
- Can you connect to the house sound system? Is it easy or will you require professional help?
- Are the meeting rooms ADA compliant?
- Are the meeting rooms clean and well lit?
- Is there enough room for a registration desk in lobby? Or outside the meeting room?
- Is there a discount on food and beverage if the family reunion blocks rooms at the hotel?
- Is there Internet access? What is the cost?
- Dance floor/Size?
- Can you hang family reunion banners or signs in public areas?
- Room Rental Charge $ ______________
- Set-Up Charge $ _______________
Here are food and beverage questions you should be asking at the site inspection:
- How many years has the food and beverage manager been at the property?
- Will he/she be there at your event? Or will there be someone else? If so, can you meet them ahead of time to go over final details?
- Does the hotel provide centerpieces? If so, are they adequate for the event?
- If you have a cash bar, what is the minimum dollar amount that needs to be spent? Is there a bar tender fee?
- Are there any setup fees?
- Are there sample menus that you can take with you?
- How early can you get into the meeting room to set up the decorations?
- Is there a clean up fee of any kind?
- How late can the music be played?
- Are there any vendors that we have to use at your property?
- Can we cater our own food from outside?
- How many places will the hotel set up beyond the stated number of guests?
- When does the hotel need final guarantee for the family reunion?
- Is there an extra charge for audio-visual equipment?
Most of the amenities at any hotel are listed on their website. But it does not hurt to take a look and see that everything (like the pool, or tennis courts) is in good working order. Pools (indoor and outdoor) are very popular among with family reunions. Ask if your family can be blocked into rooms that either overlook the pool area or are near it. Also, look to see if they have a lifeguard on.
Other amenities the hotel may offer are breakfast, Wifi, and shuttle service. Look to see what kind of breakfast is offered. Is it a full hot breakfast? Or is it a small continental one that most family members will not enjoy. Check to see the Wifi signal on your phone (if you have a smartphone) throughout the hotel or resort. Is it strong, easy to connect to?
In most cases, you will have family members that are both young and old. Your goal is to find a property that serves both these demographics. For the elderly, you are looking for a property that is easy to get to and get around. You also have to make sure they have enough ADA compliant sleeping rooms, meeting rooms, and public areas.
For the younger set, you have to make sure that the hotel or resort has enough activities to keep them busy. A location that offers babysitting service is a big plus as well. Also, take a quick drive around the hotel to see what nearby activities would be suitable for kids.
After the inspection
Take a few days after the site inspections to let your thoughts gel before you decide on a hotel or resort for your family reunion. If you need help deciding, consider sending out an email (Or posting it on the reunion website) to family members with the pros and cons of each hotel you inspected. Let your family vote on their choice.
A hotel site inspection can be a tremendous benefit when planning a family reunion. By seeing the location for yourself, you can book it comfortably knowing that surprises will be minimized during your event.
What should you do next?
If you’re looking at booking a hotel for your family reunion then you will need to block rooms at a hotel. Get started by reading our article on how to block hotel rooms for a family reunion.