A hotelier’s goal during a renovation is to ensure the guests’ stay is never compromised by disruptions from the construction process.
Editor’s note: This is the second part in a three-part series about the hotel renovation relationship, looking at three topics, including: why hotels renovate, sacrificing guest convenience during a renovation and what happens after a renovation. Read the first part here.
Renovations are complicated and require enormous cooperation and attention to detail. Core team members should include real-estate-investment-trust representatives, hotel senior leadership and contractor project managers. Task lists must be understood and agreed upon and realistic timelines put in place. Potential problems and contingency plans need to be anticipated and discussed.
Hotel operators need to calculate which areas of the hotel to close when, for how long and how much of the hotel at once. Depending on the scope of the renovation, restaurants, sleeping rooms, ballrooms, meeting rooms, public areas and pools all are considered against how much revenue will be lost during this period.
Critical path deadlines must be met, but the ultimate reason—the guest—should never be forgotten.
Developing a plan
Gregg Herning, VP of sales and marketing at Peabody Hotels, recently completed a two-and-a-half-year major hotel renovation and expansion at the Peabody Orlando in Florida.
“The pressure on the hotel operator is immense. Developing a proactive communication and operational plan is the answer,” he said. “We decided to stay open. I saw with my own eyes the value of a well-thought-out communication and execution plan. We were very proud that during this time we were able to maintain our Forbes 4-star designation.”
Steve Glenn, in-house architect for general contractor specializing in hotel renovation Cicero Development Corporation, said “The challenge is in the interface with hotel (GM), the REIT owner and the management company, who may or may not have the flag on the property. It is important to be as invisible as possible to hotel management as well as to the guest.”
Glenn said invisible means partitioning off a two-story ballroom with aesthetically pleasing temporary walls and shutting down the escalator so the public does not accidentally find themselves lost in a closed area. Invisible means housing the crew on the guestroom floors that are being renovated. Invisible means scheduling the freight elevator at night so materials won’t be loaded in and around hotel day traffic and guest activities.
When it comes to hotel relations, it is all about getting involved. Cicero Development attends the daily stand-up meetings and also interfaces with the key hotel departments.
“When a contractor knows what the in-house group and guest activities are, they can try to adjust their schedules for better noise control and limit the interruptions for the guest,” Glenn said. These changes can impact their deliverable schedule, but Glenn said Cicero has never missed a deadline yet. “This is a unique business to be in, but it is not for the meek.”
Minimizing cost, guest inconvenience
Steve Bartolin, CEO and president of The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado, said the advantage and success of The Broadmoor lies in having only three owners since it opened in 1918. The Broadmoor is one of the few places where the legacy is part of the responsibility and obligation of owning and maintaining the property. Bartolin takes pride in this stewardship but is also a realist when he says, “a successful business is profitable. We like to give reasons for people to come back to The Broadmoor.”
The Broadmoor has spent $450 million on renovations over the years and its current $90-million renovation and expansion of the West Building, the Ranch at Emerald Valley and the Lodge at Cloud Camp will be completed by spring 2014. However, because The Broadmoor is considered a seasonal resort, it can schedule major renovations during the off season when guest foot traffic is slower.
When it comes to contractors, Bartolin said, “we manage our own projects, which gives us control. We have been with our suppliers and contractors for years, so even when working with tight timeframes, we have never missed an opening.”
Sometimes a fast thinking hotel operator can garner huge cost savings.
When the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee, was forced to close for major flood repairs, the hotelier incorporated many property improvements into what ultimately became a repair and renovation project. The hotel took it one step further by moving the Gaylord Palms (in Orlando, Florida) renovation start date up by nearly a year to get the best use of its contractor company, which effectively renovated two Gaylord properties back to back.
There is no sports analogy here that can help you through hotel renovation. Hospitality is a service industry and despite the triumphant outcome that comes after the renovation, hotel service to the hotel guest is often compromised. And guests don’t like it.
Andria Goldin specializes in Hotel Relationship Marketing. With over 18 years of professional experience covering Client objectives and meeting needs, Andria understands the business perspective from the Hotel, Corporate Client, Agency and Planner point of view. Specializing in Hotel Relationship Marketing during a Renovation, Conversion or New Construction Period, Andria works closely with a Hotel in brand development by creating customized communication programs for the Group/Guest to facilitate their convenience during the renovation period. Andria is a member of HSMAI, MPI, M&I, PCMA and more. You can reach her at www.meetingknowledge.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of HotelNewsNow.com or its parent company, STR and its affiliated companies. Columnists published on this site are given the freedom to express views that may be controversial, but our goal is to provoke thought and constructive discussion within our reader community. Please feel free to comment or contact an editor with any questions or concerns.