We all know that buying a car involves haggling with the salesperson, considering the color of the car, the make, and a multitude of other details.
Once we have decided on a car, there is something that all of us do before we finally say yes, isn’t there? We all want a test drive and without a one, you’d find it hard to make a purchase that runs into the tens of thousands of dollars, right? It is only after the test drive that we get a better sense of how the car drives, how spacious it is do we feel that we can part with our money.
So how come when are about to spend a similar amount of money on a group event, we don’t go for a test drive.
How do you test drive a hotel?
You see, most hotels have what are called “show rooms”. These rooms are specifically reserved for site inspections. Anytime there is a site inspection, these are the rooms that are shown to the group coordinator or event planner.
But these are the rooms that you want to see, is it. You want to see the rooms that your guests are going to see when they check in.
So can you ensure that you see what the hotel really looks like during your site inspection? Simple, arrive the night before, unannounced and stay in a room.
Why go unannounced?
All hotel site inspections are staged. So if you go unannounced the night before the actual inspection, you will see the hotel in the same light that every guest sees every day. No rose colored glasses here.
Going unannounced and staying the night will give you the opportunity to determine how well the hotel is operated. From check in to walking the parking lot, you will get an unfiltered window into how clean the hotel really is.
What is the hotel really like?
As soon as you walk in, take a look at how cordial the front desk staff is? Are they irritated? Is there a line? Are they properly staffed? Are they overwhelmed with the phones ringing off the hook?
Once you are in the room, look at how clean it is. Is it spacious? Can you hear the people next door? Are there any stains on the carpet? Is WiFi working properly?
Before turning in for the night, talk walk around the property, inside and out. Walk the hallways and the parking lot to check for cleanliness. If there is excessive trash lying around, make a note to see if the trash is still there in the morning during your “actual” site inspection.
Lastly, call down to the front desk and ask for something to be brought up to you (Like an extra pillow). See how long the delivery of the pillow takes.
Doing the above will give you a better idea of how the hotel really operates even before you start the actual hotel site inspection with the sales staff.
But what if I have to do two or three hotel site tours in one day?
While it would be ideal to be able to spend a night at each hotel, that is not a realistic option for most people. In this case, we would suggest staying the night at the hotel that is your top choice. Doing so will help you confirm whether the hotel is right for your group.
But what if I live nearby?
You should stay at the hotel regardless of where you live. Actually checking into a hotel and feeling much like a guest will give you a much better idea of what your attendees will go through when they arrive. Simply walking around the hotel will not give you the experience, nor will it give you an idea of staff friendliness, and responsiveness.
Plus, by staying over, you will see the hotel in a light that may be different than the one presented to you during the official site tour. And you can ask more knowledgeable questions about the rooms too (My wifi signal was weak in the room. Is that a regular problem at this hotel?)
Moreover, staying the night will let you counter much of the fluff that a hotel sales staff may present during the site tour. It will help you uncover hotels that are truly deserving of your business.
Are there circumstances where staying the previous night is not necessary?
There are always exceptions, aren’t there? The only way that we would recommend not staying the night at a hotel prior to a site inspection is if we had done successfully done business with them before and the management staff had not changed since.
A hotel site inspection is not complete without staying the night before and yet it is the one thing that is commonly avoided. Doing so will provide additional insight into how the hotel operates regularly.
And much like a test drive at the car dealership, it will let you know if the hotel is the right choice for your group.
What should you read next?
Read more about how to conduct a hotel site inspection so you can select the perfect hotel for your group.