The site visit is the crucial moment of getting everything or nothing in most pitches in the MICE industry, just like a first date.
In this post we will go through the importance of this important instant of the event planning process, understand the opportunity it presents and learn some useful hacks to confirm the business using the site visit as a leverage.
It all depends on the match you make, as they say!
First of all we will do a quick sum up of the basic concepts and figures involved:
Visit of the destination, suppliers and venues made by a client
Representatives of the decision maker (final client) and / or the possible intermediaries (event planners or event agencies)
Usually, after the first quotation and / or request to block the space. During a pitch, there may be one, two or even more site visits to the same destination, venue or supplier).
There can also be non specific site visits that can be organized anytime, without being related to a specific event.
In case of a specific event, the main purpose is to get to know the destination and products available in order to chose the most suitable ones for the event considered.
In case of non specific site visits, the aim is to broaden the destination and product knowledge for future inquiries
In case of a specific event, the visited areas are the ones offered in the quotation and for non specific site visits, all available areas and spaces are visited.
In case of a hotel, it is probable the clients will spend at least one night on the property.
In case of restaurants or other type of services, the clients will most probably have to try the services and products offered in order to evaluate them according to their needs.
So, as you can see from the above information, this is an ideal moment to seduce the client and use the best weapons to convince him that your product is the best choice or a valuable alternative for the future, in case there is no specific event considered.
This is a one time opportunity, so you either nail it or you lose it for good!
It is important to remember that this is a unique opportunity to promote and show the best products and service quality in order to convince the client that he should chose you against your competitors.
Here are some tips that venues and suppliers can use in order to enhance the experience of the guests and convince them to chose their services:
- If possible, offer upgrades or your premium services. Don’t try to save on the site visit. If you do the math on the costs, you will see it is worth it. Besides, remember it is really an investment in advertising, so it is not expensive at all.
- Train your staff and make sure everyone knows what the visit is about, what is in stake and who are the guests coming to visit you.
- Make sure you identify the decision maker and pay special attention to his reactions and needs. If necessary, sit down and talk through any specific point that you feel was not convincing enough for him.
- Don’t underestimate the role of the event agency or event planner. They have to be your first allies as they have the power to lean the scale into one side or another. Besides, they will be your direct connection during the event logistics and you want to have the best relationship possible with them, working as a team. Be sure to pamper them and to assure a special treat, similar to the decision maker. Remember, they are the ones that can bring you future business if they have a satisfying experience on your property.
- Show professionalism, availability and flexibility. The event planners are looking for reliable suppliers that feel they support and understand them.
- Don’t try to oversell your product. Be honest and transparent regarding all possibilities you offer, as well as your limitations. Don’t feel your shortcomings are a clear turn down! In the end, the perfect product or service for everybody doesn’t exist! The clients are able to understand reasonable limitations and many times they value more other characteristics. So, if the rest of the product convinces them, they will most probably work with you to overcome the obstacles encountered.
- Don’t promise things you are not sure you can deliver! Event planners value more transparency and a well augmented “NO” than empty promises that can harm the operative on spot.
- Make sure you have available a virtual site visit to show it to your client. You can use it as an elevator pitch for the first contact and convince your client it is worth it to do the in person visit. You can also use it to replace all the email ping pong previous to the in person visit or to give it to the client as a sum up after the in person site visit.
From a timeline point of view, each site visit has different characteristics and it is important venues and suppliers understand correctly the purpose and important issues for each moment.
|FIRST SITE VISIT||SECOND SITE VISIT||THIRD OR FURTHER SITE VISITS|
|PURPOSE||First contact to get to know the destination and suppliers||Make the final decision or chose the finalists.||Recap and finalize operative details|
|PARTICIPANTS||Usually, representatives of the decision makers and possible intermediaries (event planners). Sometimes the event planners or event agency may come alone, sourcing venues or suppliers for his clients.||The decision maker, representative or person in charge of the event and possible intermediaries (event planners).||Usually, representatives of the decision makers and possible intermediaries (event planners). Depending on the roles assigned, different figures of the event team can join.|
|FOCUS||Get to know the facilities and logistics of the destination and suppliers.|
Visualize the event on spot.
Check that the product and suppliers are suitable for the event and client’s requirements.
Test the product’s quality and how it is delivered.
|Logistic and operative details|
On spot coordination
Negotiation of the contract conditions
Define roles and responsibilities
Match the persons in charge from both supplier and event team
Final recap of each step of the event on spot
As you can see, the first site visit is your business card and your one chance in the game. If you do it well and make it to the second site visit, you are almost there.
Most events are almost confirmed before the second site visit, this is usually a negotiation meeting in order to obtain the most beneficial contract conditions or to make the final decision between two remaining options, depending on how the negotiation turns up.
So, to sum up:
In the first site visit you need to seduce and on the second site visit you need to conquer.
Last but not least, you should keep in mind that destinations are usually the first ones to compete against each other in the pitch. Therefore, it is crucial that all representatives of the travelling and hospitality industry in each destination work together in order to create a strong and attractive product that can ease the individual effort and stand out in the pitch.
But what about event planners?
They also have to prepare and use different techniques to close the deal. Check out this post for some tips that can help event planners to ensure the success of a site visit.