March 6, 2017

Gather your checklists and camera; the site inspection is a “must do” when choosing the perfect venue for your next incentive event

Not only are incentive events hefty investments, they carry a heavy load of responsibility when it comes to motivating staff to drive next year’s revenue. A well-chosen incentive destination has the power to energize attendees as they move into the next big sales cycle.

The site inspection gives you the opportunity to see, feel, taste, hear, and experience alternative venues in person. Don’t let today’s high definition photography and 360° video tours tempt you into skipping this important step. (Hotels are notorious for liberally editing photographs to increase a property’s appeal!) Schedule a time with each of your top selections, then simply follow our guide below.

Destination considerations

Your site inspection begins with a thorough evaluation of its general location. Investigate the suitability of all aspects of the country, city, and surrounding area for your event. Here are some important questions to ask about the general location of a site:

  • How far will guests need to travel?
  • Is the location an easy direct flight or does it require several hops and or ground transportation legs?
  • Will time zone changes impact guest’s comfort?
  • Will the weather be conducive to planned activities?
  • What cultural expectations such as attire will attendees be subject to?
  • How safe is the destination?
  • Are there any travel warnings or political activity in the area that could disrupt plans?
Island getaway for incentive event
site location for an incentive event

Site location considerations

In addition to evaluating the general destination, each site will have its own unique location that adds features and benefits other sites can’t match. Ask these questions to evaluate the specific location of each site:

  • How far is a site from the airport?
  • Can guests quickly and easily get transportation?
  • How far will guests need to travel for key activities?
  • Is the site situated in an appealing area?
  • Does the site location provide for guests’ safety and security?
  • How does the site stack up to surrounding properties?

Your incentive event site’s curb appeal should boost arriving attendee’s enthusiasm. Evaluate context as you arrive.

Venue look & feel

Beyond curb appeal, a site’s interior meeting spaces and guest rooms should enhance the general needs of the event. Once inside, ask questions including the following:

  • Is the facility clean and well lit?
  • Does the interior stimulate with unique décor, or is it flat and boring?
  • Are furnishings and décor dated or modern?
  • Will guest rooms meet expectations with generous proportions, luxury linens, and modern finishes?
  • Is there construction scheduled during your event that may close off areas or cause noise?
Shining clean venue for an incentive event
Floor plan

Venue floor plan

You’ve found a brilliant destination and the venue looks stunning, but will it hold up to the working needs of your event? You’ll want to walk through every step of the event’s agenda to evaluate how effectively the facility can accommodate your program. Envision the setup and flow requirements and ask these questions:

  • What will rooms be like for production?
  • Are spaces the right size or will guests be cramped or too spread out?
  • Where will elements such as stage and seating go?
  • What entertainment and other elements will fit comfortably?
  • Are meeting rooms contiguous or will they spread out your attendees across a property?
  • What spaces will be shared with other hotel guests versus private?

Theme support

Consider your event’s theme as you look at each space you would use.

  • How effectively will a site’s history and features support a theme?
  • Can you envision a theme playing out in the available space?
  • What décor, giveaways, entertainment, and food can you layer on top of the site’s features to carry the theme?
stunning theme for an incentive event
Lighting and audio-visual

Lighting & audio-visual

Evaluate available lighting and audiovisual equipment. Discuss specifics of what standard equipment they include. Be sure to ask:

  • Will the sound system support event needs for a slideshow, multimedia presentation, or concert?
  • Can site lighting create your desired ambience?
  • What extras will you need to purchase?
  • Can you bring in any additional needed gear and suppliers?
  • At what charge?

Food & beverage

A multi-day event requires special attention to guests’ dietary needs and preferences. Come prepared with a good understanding of special needs. Be sure to set up a tasting menu to evaluate quality and help with selections.

  • What options are available for dining?
  • Does site require your event to use a preferred caterer?
  • How artful is the presentation?
  • Are there adequate menu selections for everyone in attendance?
  • Will food style and variety appeal to your guests?
Food and beverage for an incentive event
five star service


Incentive events call for first-class service. Evaluate the service you receive planning, scheduling, and conducting the site inspection. This often indicates the quality of service guests will experience. Venues try to put their best foot forward to win your business, so keep in mind service is unlikely to be better than what you experience during the site inspection.

  • Are key areas such as valet, front desk, concierge, and bell desk adequately staffed?
  • Is staff attentive to detail?
  • Does the general staff offer excellent and friendly service?
  • Do they look and act professional?
  • Are they proactive in anticipating and meeting guest needs?

Wi-Fi and cell reception

Unless you’re taking the team on an escape to unplug, most guests will demand quality connectivity. Ask what Wi-Fi the site includes and any incremental costs that may be associated with access. Check the cell reception yourself and ask if there are any known anomalies across the property.

activities including golf

Amenities and outside activities

Does your event seek to recharge a weary sales force at a world-class spa and golf course, or foster better teamwork through a physical challenge like whitewater rafting? Consider the available facilities’ adequacy to achieve your purpose.

  • Is the spa, workout room, and pool(s) clean and well-maintained?
  • Is the golf course well-groomed and on par with your attendee’s skills? How service-minded is the staff?
  • Are there enough amenities and activities that will appeal to your guests and achieve your purpose?

Environmental considerations

If you’re among the growing number of organizations pursuing more environmentally sustainable event practices, ask prospective venues about their green practices. Checking LEED certification is one way to determine if a venue is resource efficient. Venues can qualify for silver, gold, or platinum ratings based on water and energy conservation and greenhouse gas reduction.

Environmental sustainable
hidden costs break the budget

Hidden costs

Some venues thrive on offering a low price of entry sustained by myriad hidden costs. Uncovering incremental fees upfront requires asking all the right questions. Some venues may charge for electricity, others for Wi-Fi, still others tack on hefty fees if you want to bring in outsider vendors. There may be additional facilities fees on room blocks, charges for linens, tables & chairs, parking, corkage fees, and more. Seek out the full cost of implementing your plan as you go.

Wrapping up

As you look over the site, remember to consider both indoor and outdoor spaces at different times of day. Take photos. Record any questions that need additional research. Ask the venue if they have hosted a similar event, and if so how it has worked. Finally, ask yourself – does this site meet event needs without adding unnecessary costs? Thorough preparation and in-person site inspection work together to help you unearth the perfect venue at a just right cost for your destination event.

poolside at incentive event venue

What’s your favorite site inspection tip?

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