When scheduling an event, planning your site visit is your top task. Not only will you ensure meeting space and accommodations match your needs, you'll cover all the details to create a productive, enjoyable meeting that fits all your criteria and your budget. Here are ten tips that the ProMeetings team encourages meeting planners to use when visiting Kiawah Island:
1. Create a checklist before you leave. With your list you won't overlook any details that are important for your event and, if you're checking out more than one venue, you'll have a handy basis to make your comparison — and your best choice.
2. Stay overnight if time allows to experience the venue and get a feel for what your attendees will experience. A stay tells so much more than a tour about comfort of the accommodations, dining quality, friendliness of staff and even such details as views from the rooms.
3. If you can't stay overnight, allow a little extra time to explore the property before or after the scheduled tour with your sales person. That way, you can view the public spaces that may not be on your tour, interact with staff and generally get your own sense for the character of the property and its services.
4. Check out ease of accessibility. For example, how far is the venue from the airport, how many daily flights are available for your group and what is the availability/cost of transport between the property and airport? And within the venue itself, is there convenient and complimentary transportation for your group? If any of your attendees have disabilities, this is also a time to make sure they can be easily accommodated.
5. See every space your meeting group will use. Floor plans and capacity charts are crucial, but the ambience of a room has to be experienced. Leave nothing to chance, especially when it comes to equipment you'll need for presentations and special events. If a specific room you're interested in is in use, ask to see it before or after the event there is over.
6. Make sure the meeting environment is focused and business-like. For example, if the venue also caters to families, is your meeting space separated appropriately from the noise and distractions of leisure guests? This can be especially important for meetings scheduled during summer months or close to holiday breaks.
7. Check out recreation that's available in the season you'll meet. Onsite golf, tennis, biking, paddle sports and other active pursuits balance your meeting and build team spirit, so be sure there are opportunities for your group to relax together. Again, if the resort caters to families, be sure there are activities where your group can gather in an environment conducive to unwinding after a busy meeting session.
8. Visit and sample as many dining options as possible. Meeting attendees agree that the quality of food and beverage is as important to the success of a meeting as the venue itself. A range of onsite restaurants from sports-bar casual to upscale fine dining will give your group the variety they crave. If a special event is part of your agenda, take time to go over catering menus with special attention to what's offered within your budget.
9. Look beyond the venue for memorable experiences. At a hotel or resort in a prime location, you can easily plan a cultural or sporting event to entertain and reward your team. For example, Kiawah Island's close proximity to Charleston, SC, gives our guests a chance to experience the charm and history of the "Top City in the World," as ranked by Condé Nast. Our local DMC is a great source for meeting planners to incorporate Charleston tours, attractions and shopping.
10. Ask LOTS of questions, take LOTS of pictures! The salesperson conducting your tour is eager to discuss details important to your group. Try asking about memorable events they've hosted — it's a good way to gauge the skill of the staff and find out if they have the creativity to wow your attendees. The pictures you take will be invaluable for your later reference and to share what you've experienced with your colleagues.
Director of Group Sales Marty Couch and his team at Kiawah Island Golf Resort look forward to welcoming you for a site visit. Recently name the #1 Island in North America by the readers of Condé Nast Traveler, Kiawah is the ideal location to host your next event. Call us at 800.576.1585 to make arrangements — and be sure to ask about special value rates for Five-Star meetings at The Sanctuary Hotel this summer.