Future corporate group bookings are returning and so are their more immediate site inspection needs. Many aspects of our new travel normal we know – flight schedules will continue to change, and COVID tests will get you coming and going. We’ve come to anticipate certain intricacies in planning for the journey. We can get ourselves to 30,000 feet, but what happens once we touchdown? What will be the experience post check-in?
Despite the turbulence, below are some tips to have the smoothest site inspection:
Be sure to lock-in, well in advance, any restaurant reservations you may need. Without reservations, wait times can be long. The same applies to hotel amenities. Gone are the days of popping into the gym or booking a last-minute massage. As for fun activities, the average wait is two months (no more zipping-off to that zipline!). Book site inspection details early and communicate often as hotels hire back new personnel and contacts may change.
Add Contingency Dollars
Transportation costs have doubled (even tripled) due to the limited availability of vehicles. Hotels and DMCs are no longer in the position to offer any meals or services gratis. Flights may get cancelled and additional rooms may be needed. Your next site inspection might cost 20-30% more than those conducted pre-Covid. Plan to adjust your budget accordingly.
Anticipate Different Standards
Hotels are bringing back staff, and we applaud them! However, until the hospitality industry regains full capacity, service levels and experiences may vary. Your concierge will likely sit behind plexiglass, while less-than-glamorous “wear your mask” signs may fill the lobby of what was previously an understated, luxury setting. Room cleaning might be spotty or non-existent, and room service might not even be an option. Finally, some hotels may need a soft goods refresh after so many bad months.
So, let’s recap how to plan a (near) perfect site inspection with the realities of our current world:
- Plan and lock-in as much as you can far in advance.
- Set the right expectations for yourself and your team.
- Communicate with the hotel often and let go of the small stuff.
- Sketch out your planner-perfect itinerary, but then…grab a cab, hop a plane, and prepare to embrace the zen as you are sure to hit a few bumps along the way.
- Encourage compassion and kindness at the forefront of your thinking. Remember, everyone is doing their best!