Government Connections - Winter 2013 - (Page 13)

Ethics and Site Visits By Mark A. Harvey, DS, CMP, CGMP DAI MEETING PLANNERS ARE often invited to visit potential sites in the effort of gaining greater product awareness. Of the three types of these visits (Fam, Site and Planning Meeting), the site visit requires the most thought and careful consideration. When a planner visits potential sites that have survived the initial elimination rounds, it is best to remember that these venues are now under serious consideration for contract. While a site visit is vital, the ethics surrounding behavior at this stage of negotiation can be tricky, both in practice and outside perception. Every planner has to juggle priorities, requirements and preferences when assessing a site as viable for their meeting. This is no small task. Despite our current age of electronic information and virtual experiences, when it comes to meetings there is still no better way to select a site than to see it. Walking the space, sitting in the seats that your attendees will occupy for hours on end, experiencing the staff and their interpretation of “service,” sleeping in a guest room, sampling the food; these are all tactics to make an informed decision on the appropriate venue. If properly done, a good site visit will put your mind at ease on vital service-related details so that you can focus on planning the meeting that your attendees really need. Site v isits also foster stronger relationships with suppliers, giving the planner the opportunity to spend time with hotel partners on the supplier’s home turf. Building an enjoyable, honest and lasting relationship with suppliers is a primary success factor for planners in multiple markets, particularly in the government arena. There are times, however, when planners are invited to enjoy amenities provided by the hotel which are outside of the scope of attendee need. The first question to ask yourself is, “Will this ‘thing’ that I am about to try benefit the attendee? Will they even notice, or is this just for me?” Only you can answer that question, but the key is to ask yourself in the first place. For example, if you are planning a government conference that is two days of intense career development training with barely any breaks, and the hotel is treating you to a round of golf, you are not likely the executor of your attendees’ best interests as you tee off. The next question to ask is, “Am I getting the ‘real’ picture of this venue?” I am famous for tripping up staff with difficult questions, asking for wakeup calls at strange hours, and requesting off-the-wall things during site visits because I know that is what my attendees will likely do. If I spend my entire site visit dining at a chef’s table, tuned out by a hot rock massage and riding horses through the heath, I will not likely notice key issues that would affect my attendees’ experience. Lastly, ask yourself, “Am I in danger of signing with a venue because I like it, and not because it is the best choice to achieve the objectives of my program?” It’s easy to fall in love with a beautiful hotel that provides topnotch services and makes you feel like a Hollywood icon whenever you cross the lobby threshold. Just don’t go changing your room sets and increasing registration fees to make it happen. The hotel could be a fit, just be sure to negotiate wisely, advocate for your attendees and recognize what is “too much” for your program. It is important to note that people outside of the meetings world tend to s e e a ny s ite 13

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Government Connections - Winter 2013

President’s Letter
Editor’s Letter
Going Places
Dieting on a Per Diem
Plan Green
Education Edge
Ethics and Site Visits
Why the Government Should Hire Qualified, Professional Meeting Planners
Supplier Strategy
Good to Know
That’s Technology
Conference Connection
Travel Tips & Trends
Membership News
SGMP Nation
The Meeting Minute
Advertisers’ Index

Government Connections - Winter 2013