Renovations impact meetings business
 
Renovations impact meetings business
20 JUNE 2013 6:36 AM

Before the renovation begins, hoteliers should map out how the renovation will impact already-contracted and potential meetings groups.

Editor’s note: This is the final 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 and the second part here.

We usually find out about a hotel renovation through a news release that states what’s going to happen to the hotel. The next thing you hear is what happened when the renovation is over. Exciting news, for sure, but what actually happened in between?

When does a renovation really begin? How far back do we have to rewind? Who actually makes the decisions? Exactly when is a renovation born? Because that is when the group planner and client need to be told—right at the beginning.

Dealing with meetings planners
The beginning is the best time for hotel sales-and-marketing people and convention services managers to get on board and map out exactly how the flow of the renovation impacts the already-contracted meetings groups and how it will impact new groups looking for space.

Andria Goldin
 

As a planner, the initial feeling when being told there will be a renovation going on during your meeting is that of restriction. You feel like you are being dictated to by the hotel and a victim of the contractor.

A meetings planner might also ask, “We are paying all this money, but for what?”

As the hotel liaison and facilitator between the group/guest and the contract project managers, it’s imporant to learn what the guest can and can’t have ahead of the scheduled meeting dates, which will repair a crumbling hotel relationship before it starts.

Prepare for the worst
Remember, we will most likely be dealing with disappointment from the contracted group. Become involved. We gave the contracted group the problem. They did not ask for this, so help them out or they will never come back.

Be prepared to lose revenue during a renovation. In some cases, it might be better to move the group to a sister property or move the dates. Savvy planners who have been in this situation before have already put renovation protection into their contract.

Come fortified with solutions by making it as easy as possible for the group and guest.

“I think it’s best to get out in front of the tsunami and have a frank and sincere chat with your group planner, who has found his or her way into a construction or renovation,” said Gregg Herning, VP of sales and markeing at Peabody Hotels in Orlando, Florida. “Though these conversations can be unpleasant, it is like working out. You hate the thought of it, but it sure feels good afterwards.

“If possible, face-to-face meetings with key planners should be scheduled. If inconvenience is inevitable, it should be confronted head on and a solution discussed. Will compensation in the form of deeply discounted pricing be in order, or is it best to help this client relocate to optional dates or even another hotel?”

He continued: “Hotel operators need to understand that you will miss some revenue now but have a chance to have the client back many more times in the future. The alternative is you roll the dice and do not fully disclose the situation and your client not only will demand a discount or full refund but will never consider a return visit.”

Being able to witness how a challenging and large project comes together is the exciting part, and it’s OK to showcase that to the client. It builds anticipation and expectation as the client observes and wonders, “How is the hotel going to do that?”

Loews Hotels & Resorts is not afraid to share. The hotel has a video posted on YouTube of a behind-the-scnes look at the room renovation at the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando.

One of the comments left says it best: “Incredible. I never knew it took so much work!”

Therein lies the key. Allowing future guests and clients to see what the hotel is going through creates an effective path toward compromise and solution. 

There is only one way a group won’t feel as though it’s missing out during a renovation—no matter how good you are at hiding it—and that is by getting the groups involved. Remember, they chose your property because they want to be there despite the renovation. And that’s a testament to your property.

Andria 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 andria@meetingknowledge.com.

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.

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