Consider these less costly fixes to help maintain an asset without any additional business interruption.
Everyone who is reading this knows how the hotel industry dynamics have been severely altered. This includes those related to hotel renovations and the renovation rules that we have long thought to be unchangeable are no longer so.
This challenging period can afford lodging owners who have the appropriate resources and capital an opportunity to renovate at an accelerated rate and at more competitive costs. During these times we’ve seen major hotels plan to close temporarily or stay closed longer simply to get much needed renovations completed quicker. During this period, we are also witnessing a willingness of designers, contractors and furniture, fixtures and equipment providers to reduce the cost of goods and services due to many projects put on hold. In addition, major brands have allowed owners to push back the timeline to complete the required refresh/property improvement plan obligations until the industry recovers.
For those owners who have elected to halt major construction due to cash flow concerns, smaller, smarter and less costly tweaks should be considered to help maintain the asset. These small improvements will help provide needed visual impact to guests and complete deferred repairs without additional business interruption which typically occurs when rooms are out of service.
With the economy having come to a near standstill for a period this year, it’s been a major reset for many industries outside of hospitality, too. This has caused construction costs to plummet back to reasonable levels, making it more cost effective to get projects completed now. We have seen few projects cost reductions of 15%-20%. Additionally, with many of the major hotel brands’ 2020 and 2021 required initiatives deadlines pushed back, new PIPs are also being extended an additional 12 to 24 months for completion. This further suppresses costs and provides owners the ability to negotiate better terms on construction and with designers and vendors.
It is also important to keep in mind that construction projects may take longer to complete. This is due to the fact that there may be fewer people working on a project at a given time in order to reduce the number of individuals on a site due to COVID-19 requirements.
Whether or not you’re planning to make a major renovation investment now, it’s still possible to create a more appealing environment for guests in public spaces. One idea is to distance lobby seating into smaller clusters that follow physical distancing guidelines. Another is to install dividers to isolate areas, not something cold and unappealing, but rather using design elements that fit into the overall aesthetic of your design motif. We’ve seen clever use of elements such as bookcases or use of area rugs that create different zones that people will naturally gravitate to.
The goal is to create purposeful looking spaces that do not appear as if half the seating has simply been removed. We’ve seen too many hotels doing this, and it creates a subtle cue to customers the environment is not hospitable.
Also, think about bringing in natural elements such as plants, living walls and water features to public spaces that accentuate the feeling of comfort and hospitality rather than one of a hospital.
Remember, no one is looking at this as a permanent change. The industry will eventually work its way out of this and return to a state of normalcy. But to better appeal to the traveling guest today, well-thought-out renovations create a sense of newness and cleanliness that leads to guests feeling comfortable in extremely uncomfortable times.
Stephen Siegel is principal of H-CPM (Hospitality CPM).
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