6 things to keep in mind when planning a virtual site visit
Organizations and associations are increasingly turning to virtual site visits to make decisions about hotels, meeting sites, and entertainment venues. With the right planning and the right questions, a virtual site visit can provide enough perspective (read: peace of mind) to proceed with the planning of either an in-person or a hybrid event.
Here are a few things to consider when organizing a virtual site visit.
Clearly identify the objective of the visit. A traditional “in-person” site visit can take place over a couple days, meaning that there is plenty of time to chat and brainstorm. But virtual site visits are perhaps a couple hours—they’re more limited in time and scope. To optimize the virtual visit, ensure that the most important points are articulated beforehand, and then addressed during the time allotted.
Gather the key players. Naturally, you’ll want a sales representative from the venue or hotel that you’re “visiting” and maybe a few members of your team. But who else should be on the call? If your meeting has a heavy audiovisual component, then that specific contractor might want to be present. If food is a vital part of your event, a representative from the catering company should be there. Furthermore, it might be helpful to have your local CVB representative on the call to offer insight on the destination.
Choose your platform wisely. There is an increasing number of video-based platforms: Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, etc. When selecting a platform, two key factors to consider are functionality and familiarity. How many attendees will you have? Do you want to see each attendee face? And most importantly of all: how well do you know the platform? If you’ve never used the platform before, perhaps do some “test drives” with your own team before inviting the everyone onboard.
Focus on the meeting rooms + offsite venues. If you’re planning to book a hotel for an event, the quality of guestrooms is important. But the meeting rooms and offsite venues will be where attendees and organizers spend most of their waking hours. A few photographs or a short video clip (no more than one minute) of the guestrooms will probably suffice. Prioritize meeting rooms and the amenities necessary to make your event successful.
Ensure video content is horizontal. Much of our digital time is spent on mobile phones, and this means consuming content in vertical format (such as IGTV or TikTok). But when it comes to a virtual visit, horizontal video—also called “landscape”—is best. After all, our eyes themselves are horizontal, and we’re accustomed to processing visual information by scanning horizontally.
Schedule time for questions and discussions—for everyone. Most visits will begin with introductions and then a presentation of the site. Naturally you’ll have some questions about room size or technology compatibility. But ensure that other members of the virtual visit—caterers, entertainers, etc—also have a chance to pose questions.
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