Would You Book a Venue Site Unseen?

The brand new Hotel Effie, situated on Florida's Emerald Coast

Hotel Effie, which just opened February 1st of this year, is situated on Florida’s Emerald Coast. The hotel has 250 guest rooms and suites, four culinary concepts by acclaimed Chef Hugh Acheson, a luxury spa, a state-of-the-art fitness center, and the only rooftop pool on Florida’s Emerald Coast.

Ahead of the opening, The Dana Agency spoke with Sandra Geiger, a Global Account Executive with Conference Direct, who worked with an Alabama association to book the hotel for a conference ahead of the opening. The Q&A below sheds light on what it’s like to book a hotel without even seeing it – which is becoming more common in today’s industry as a result of COVID-19.

What kind of group booked the program?

An Alabama association

What will this group be doing onsite?

Having their Annual Membership Meeting

What was the process like showing Hotel Effie to the group since it isn’t open yet?

We didn’t do an actual site visit before signing a contract. We looked at various promotional pieces including websites, videos and renderings.

We did conduct a hard hat tour this past November as part of our Pre-Planning meeting. It was an easy process to see the property as several guest rooms had furniture. The meeting space was getting ready for carpet. It looked great.

What was the client’s feedback?

“We are thrilled to host our meeting at Hotel Effie. We have never booked a meeting with a hotel that wasn’t built, so this is a first for us. We have been nervous from the beginning, but after seeing the hotel during the hardhat tour, we are super excited for June 2021.”

Why did this group choose the hotel for their event?

Location had a lot to do with it and the fact that the hotel would be brand new was a big plus. The group has met at the Grand Sandestin in the past and was already familiar with the area. They like the Baytowne Wharf area with all the restaurants and activities.

What was it about the venue that made this event unique?

Again, being a brand new hotel makes it unique. The rooftop pool is gorgeous. With the size of our group and the hotel, we will be the only group in the hotel at the time of the meeting.

Overall – we’d like to know about the process of booking a group meeting at a hotel before it was open and why the group chose to go with Hotel Effie instead of a hotel that is already in operation?

It was somewhat stressful booking a hotel site unseen. But, being familiar with the area made it easier. The sales team was extremely helpful by giving us all the promotional pieces to review as well as a diagram with seating chart so we could see the capacity of the meeting space. They also were running an incentive with “Pick Your Perk” options to entice the group to book.

The group could have booked another resort, but the idea of being in a brand new hotel and being the only group in house really made it an easy decision. The group was actually in contract negotiations with another hotel before Hotel Effie but when the negotiations didn’t go as planned, they sought other options and Effie seemed to be the perfect location.

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