Toni Koster •
Meeting Planners Directory/NNBW - May 2013
Finding the right destination/venue and managing the myriad aspects of an event can be a challenging task. Limit your selection process to a resort destination for comfort and ease of planning. A resort can provide you with a dedicated sales manager, who can assist you with every detail of your event.
Meetings that captivate
As a meeting planner, you need to partner with a resort that shares your objectives and exceeds expectations. First, find the right resort for your organization; look for an accessible location, value of destination, quality of meeting and convention space, simple floor plan, convenient parking, availability for room blocks (if applicable), shuttle service(s), awards/recognitions/designations and the variety of amenities offered at the property.
Partner with a sales manager
As a meeting planner, your time is spent organizing all aspects of the event. Because of this, confidence in your sales manager is a must. Find a sales manager that shares your objectives and relays professional, timely and accurate information. During your selection process, feel free to ask your sales manager for references and be sure to take note of the resort’s posted awards or lack thereof. You’ll feel more comfortable knowing your event is in a professional’s hands.
A site visit is well worth the time
If you are capable of traveling to the resort, plan a site visit first. A good sales manager will ask the right questions, before your site visit, to show exactly what is relevant for your event. Be sure to also inquire about catering and AV needs at this time. In addition, make sure you explore the destination and surrounding area. You can likely leverage the destination’s offerings to sell the event to your attendees. If you believe that golf, snow sports or other recreational activities will draw attendees to your event; discuss this with your sales manager. Most likely, they can arrange a group discount or package pricing.
A professional team is necessary
There’s nothing more encouraging than working with a team of specialists who work side-by-side. Most resorts cater their own functions, which can be an added relief to the meeting planner. You’ll be able to meet with the catering team to go over pre-selected menu items or customized menus. Don’t be afraid to ask for a tasting. Most venues will be happy to provide sample menu items. Décor and AV add to any event, ask your sales manager what décor and/or AV equipment they have for use or ask for a reference.
Consider quality versus pricing. Don’t make a rash decision based on price, consider everything the price includes. For instance, ask what costs the group will incur outside of the sales agreement. Some resorts charge extra fees for parking, internet and business access. Look at the quality of the property. Is it clean? Are the furnishing updated? Do they offer pre-function space? Do they offer AV equipment? Is their staff available at all times of the event? These are a few things you should consider when looking at cost. Quality of service, offerings and décor all add to the experience and overall value you will receive.
Thinking outside the function
Some resort properties will allow for functions to take place outside of the designated meeting facility. Talk to your sales manager about holding an event in a resort suite, restaurant or any other open space that will fit your event. If you’re having a multi-day event, speak with your sales manager about a hotel room block. Most resorts will consider offering a competitive price for your attendees/speakers.
Property offerings is key
Choose a property that is right for your group. If you are flying in to a destination, be sure the resort offers a shuttle service, dining options, a gift shop, laundry service, business access, and recreational activities. Chances are your group may not want to leave the resort. This makes it easier to plan on-site events. Look for amenities that attendees can enjoy during downtime, like a nice workout, a dip in an indoor or outdoor pool, a spa or salon service, or at some properties casino gaming amenities like slots, table games and a race and sports book.
Leave nothing untouched
Remember, you are planning an event for members of your organization to enjoy. Most likely, you want them to attend the next event, so leave nothing untouched. If there is something about the product you would like to see different, talk to your sales manager. A good sales manager will do everything in their power to make it work.
The destination can provide fun
When the meeting is over, make time to explore the destination you are in. Whether it is an opportunity to explore the outdoors, visit an arts or local restaurant district, play a round of golf or hit the ski slopes, chances are you’ll find a new vacation spot.