From HVAC repairs to parking lot updates, here’s how hoteliers can plan for the long-term health of a hotel.
No matter what the revenue per available room, average daily rate and occupancy numbers show, it’s essential to plan for the long-term health of your hotel.
This includes developing and maintaining a well-planned capital-expenditure strategy. Whatever funds your property has committed to its repairs and maintenance (R&M) or annual CapEx spending, using a portion of those dollars on a well-executed plan will eliminate problematic property level issues before they happen. Following this strategy will help eliminate the continual state of putting out fires and tamping down emergencies.
With that in mind, below are some insights on a few items to plan for and how to implement best practices.
HVAC: The average life cycle for individual wall-based units (PTAC) is seven years. A comprehensive preventative maintenance plan, which includes cleaning the filters and sleeves, flushing out the condensate lines and cleaning the coils and reviewing the functionality of the unit, will help extend its life. In areas with high humidity and in close proximity to water, the preventative maintenance program should include checking the body for corrosion. For hotels located in areas where there are extreme salt conditions, the PTACs should have a protective coating from the exterior elements. In addition, when replacing PTAC in these areas, include features which allow more fresh air or control the humidity levels. For centralized systems, maintenance is more invasive and therefore challenging. An experienced director of engineering is key to keeping a system well maintained. Also, look for service agreements from local or national vendors that are comprehensive and well documented.
Roofs: Roof replacement is relatively easy. However, the roofing company you partner with must understand there are occupied spaces below and monitoring weather conditions is essential to the success of the installation. Inevitably it will rain while the roof is being replaced and having precautions in place to protect those exposed areas is vital. On a recent installation, the roofer was not prepared for an impending storm and the hotel incurred damages to 20 rooms. On larger roofs, it may be in one’s best interest to engage a roofing consultant. They will assist with the selection of the best roofing product for your building’s location, review the roofing bids and ensure proper installation techniques are being implemented. This is significant when it comes to roof penetration, under mounted equipment and the areas that require flashing. Roofing consultants can also assist with monitoring the removal and reinstallation of roof-based cell phone systems or other third-party roof mounted devices and equipment.
Exterior signage: Brands are constantly changing mandates which could include a new exterior signage package and it’s possible the local jurisdiction may have implemented changes to the signage codes. While there is a chance the current signage will be grandfathered in, the trend is for municipalities to reduce the allowable sign square footage. Changing/updating signs can be a lengthy process, possibly taking up to six months or longer for the municipality to review and approve the plans. This is in addition to the time needed to complete the drawings, which need to be submitted to the municipality and brand. Lastly, most sign vendors will not absorb the risk of manufacturing the sign in advance of obtaining the permit and fabrication/installation will add another four to six weeks.
Parking lots: This is a relatively simple process, but requires coordination with the operations team so the work is completed during low peak times. Since parking lots always have guests, completing the scope in sections tends to lessen the guest impact. The most difficult part is ensuring guests cannot access the restricted areas. This can be particularly difficult when parking space is limited.
In general, when sourcing contractors, it’s advisable to look local first. Out-of-state contractors will need to include housing and food expenses which impacts overall costs. This can be a challenge; however, it may be the most cost-effective solution when a market is especially active with construction work and there is not enough available manpower.
At the end of the day, with proper planning, keeping up a robust CapEx plan doesn’t have to be terribly stressful. In fact, it will hopefully reduce anxiety levels as the scopes will have been preplanned. The only surprises are the ones that make guests happy.
Stephen Siegel is principal of H-CPM (Hospitality CPM) and a proven professional in the areas of design, engineering, contractor negotiation and project management for new construction and renovation projects. He earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in construction management from the University of Florida.
The opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hotel News Now or its parent company, STR and its affiliated companies. Bloggers 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.