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This survey, funded by the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Foundation (AH&LEF), shows that in addition to advancing consumer service, hotels are also giving back, making charitable contributions and being good stewards of the environment. Environmentally-friendly programs, such as towel reuse programs, recycling capabilities and water savings programs are increasingly popular, with overwhelming majorities of hotels participating. For more details about the AHLA biennial hotel study, click here.
So you’ve decided it’s THE time to renovate your hotel. Maybe you’re doing a complete overhaul… New floors, new suites, new and luxurious baths. Or maybe you’re renovating strategically: doing complete renovations in key, strategic areas like the common spaces, and “freshening up” your guest suites, with baths that shine and sparkle.
Whichever direction you’re going, picking the right professional to help you accomplish your vision is critical.
Before you hire your bath and tile refinishing contractor, take some time to ensure you address the following:
Who are they? Are they local? Does the firm have a long-standing contact and web presence? Using local contractors can be critical to your project: they often know local building officials by name (or even on speed dial!), and those built in relationships can mean the difference in terms of getting things done quickly and efficiently.
How long have they been in business? Remodeling isn’t a trade that’s picked up in a day. And you certainly don’t want inexperienced trades doing bathrooms that your guests will be seeing and using (and reviewing online!) for years. Choosing a contractor who has stood the test of time is a sure step in the right direction.
What is their industrial experience? Hotel and industrial remodeling is VERY different from renovating your home bath. There’s different laws, different demands, more attention to longevity/durability (after all, we’re talking about a bath that will be used and abused by hundreds if not thousands of people each year, for 5-7 years before the next renovation.)
Is the contractor insured? This is a non-starter. Your contractor HAS to have a certificate of insurance specifically addressed to you or your hotel.
What certifications do they have? Particularly, is the contractor EPA certified? You want a contractor who is aware of (and abides by) laws are specific to construction, alterations and paint removal.
What is their reputation? Everyone is going to have wonderful testimonials on their websites. But ask around. Do you know people who have used the firm? What do they say? Pay attention to those who “have a reputation that
precedes them” (both good and bad.) You want someone who has a strong reputation.
What are their resources? Different than a standard home remodel, a true hotel renovation expert can supply enough experienced professionals to do 10-20 rooms per floor, and do the job superbly: one beautiful caulking line right after another. They should have the proper equipment (and enough equipment) to do proper ventilation for the rooms being worked on. This is often where you will see the difference in your contractors: so pay attention to this detail.
Do they understand your business? Some people just don’t “get it.” You run a hotel. You have guests. Guests are demanding, change plans and complain. But guests are why you are in business (and why you want an amazing contractor). If you are renovating with guests in your hotel, then you’ve got to have a contractor who can improvise and adapt to guests who complain about noise, smells or just general traffic. What plans can your contractor put in place to address these common issues up front, but then ALSO adapt if more needs to be done? Further, the contractor has to be able to work with and around housekeeping and your other staff. Can they integrate themselves seamlessly into not just the renovation team, but also your operations team?
What’s included in
the job? Look for:
You’d think this would go without saying, but clean-up after the job is done. Of course you want your surfaces taped/masked to protect them. But those materials should not be left for housekeeping or engineering to be removed: that’s the contractor’s job.
Safety should not be optional: Non-slip finishes should be included in the scope of work as a safety measure.
Is the previous paint being removed? (The answer should be yes.)
Ensure the tub and tile is etched to remove shine and promote the new surface bonds properly.
Make sure you are getting high performing, top quality epoxy primers and Aliphatic acrylic enamels.
Attention to the details: make sure your contractor is committed to scraping all the grout lines, repairing chips, loose tiles and cracks and holes, finished by completely re-grouting all of the bath and tile areas to perfection. (Note: There is nothing more lovely than a flawless grout line.)
If you take each of these elements under consideration as you look for the right contractor for your hotel baths, you’ll be well on your way to a successful — and dare we say possibly even enjoyable – renovation experience.
If you liked this article about managing your hotel renovations, try:
In a webcast with C-suite hotel executives, the Wall Street Journal’s business travel writer, Scott McCartney, asked the hotel leaders about hotel amenities. Based on a Smartbrief study titled, ““The Guest Experience: Innovative Trends for Creating a More Personalized Stay,” the executives from Kimpton Hotels, JW Marriott, Morgans Hotel Group, Trump Hotel Collection and Omni Hotels & Resorts shared their perspectives.
“Santora represents the majority of responses, saying that Omni Hotels appeals to a broad base of guest demographics with a wide range of hotel product. He did, however, commit that the brand is popular with Boomers due in part to hefty conference business. “From Omni’s perspective, we do see a lot through that Boomer category, and when you think about that, they’re really the most homogenous of the generations in history, and probably the most traveled…. So when we think about amenities for them, we really want them to have this wide range.”
Having survived the last six years of economic recovery, your hotel may finally be ready to consider renovations. But hotel managers and operations directors often find themselves overwhelmed by the considerations that go into renovations. For many, it’s not a case of “do we renovate?” it’s “where do we start?” Or “when can we get this done?”
After 40 years in the renovation industry, the pros here at Hotel Tubs Pro have seen a lot. Here’s a few of our best pieces of advice for hotel management as you consider your options for renovating your hotel.
Can you afford to close down? There certainly are pros and cons to this. Staying open during a remodel can inconvenience guests (if you don’t plan your renovation well). But if you close – you’ll be imp
acting staff. If you need the short-term cash flow, then of course you’re going to stay open. However, “if long-term revenue and profit generation-or even repositioning the hotel at a different service or star level-are the key motivators behind the property refresh, it would be best to close the whole property while the refresh is undertaken.” Shutting down to do a complete overhaul, can create a marketing opportunity for the Grand Re-Opening: “A major re-opening of the property then elevates visibility and interest: similar to the project undertaken by the Savoy in London.”
Pick a Slow Time. Of course if you decide that staying open is your best bet (cash flow, size/scope of renovation, not repositioning the hotel, etc), then of course your next choice is when? While anyone will tell you “pick your slow time..” when is that for YOUR hotel? Not all hotels have the same “slow time.” If your hotel is a major wedding site, then June is not likely a good time. If your hotel hosts a lot of conferences – is there a nice gap between busy streaks
Prioritize your renovations. While renovating the whole hotel during one time period might be ideal, some hotels will need to renovate in stages. One way to approach this is to consider which parts of the hotel need the most attention when you consider who your most profitable target markets are. “For instance, if meetings business brings you the most revenue, focus on updating your meeting space. Or, if weekend leisure business is driving your customer base, you’d want the latest and greatest in spa design and services and start your renovations there. On the other hand, if your restaurant brings in a lot of business, but needs a facelift, this may be the section of your property that you’d want to renovate first.”
One way to handle this is to, quite literally, go room by room in your hotel, and have either your engineering staff or an outside firm and do an evaluative census of all your rooms. This can pinpoint precisely which rooms need how much of an overhaul (and ultimately, save you money.)
During that phase, a renovation expert can also point out how you can save money in other areas. For example, if the hard tile surfaces are all in good shape, you may be able to simply refinish your surface areas (including the tile, bath, sink, etc) rather than to an entire rip out and replace.
Count Everything Twice. Now that hotels are renovating again, some items – like furniture – are becoming harder to get, creating wait times or particular items being unavailable entirely. Double check all of your counts: do you need 352 guest room work tables. Or is it 353?
Source Locally. This is a common mantra in a lot of industries right now: grocery/produce is a great example. But the same advice can be said for hotels. There’s a lot of great reasons for doing this: You may find using local artisans for furnishings, art and tile work can create a unique and local presence in your hotel ambiance. Local production means you aren’t waiting weeks and months for shipments to come from overseas. And quite frankly, it’s putting much needed cash back into your local market.
Minimize the Impact to Your Guests. Manage how and when you tell guests about your renovations. Manage where the renovations will be taking place and ensure that you close off multiple floors between guest floors and those under construction. “Once they are at your hotel, do something special for them. If there are noise and jackhammers around your lobby, offer guests a free drink at the temporary front desk that you have established.” Have some fun and name a special drink after your renovations: “The Jackhammer Special?” “The Renovator? Guaranteed to pick up your attitude after a long day?” Share a “Happy Hour” of light hors d’oeuvres and limited cocktails for guests to “celebrate” the workmen going home for the day: after all, both you and your guests are in this renovation together.
Manage Your Reviews During Renovation. “Renovations will likely result in changed reputations scores — hopefully for the better. This impact will be apparent both during renovations (potential complaints about noise or availability of rooms) and post renovations (will guests like the new rooms?). When making strategic decisions about repositioning a hotel in line with its major property refresh, it is crucially important to factor in reputation scores and the current and future impact they may have. Pricing correctly will help to find an appropriate balance, whether it be short-term promotional pricing to overcome negative reviews due to noise or inconvenience, or long-term rate premiums as a result of positive scores from the renovations.”
Coordination is Key. While you have renovations going on in your occupied hotel, be sure to keep tight control over the project plan: which trades are going to be working in which rooms? Who’s getting done early? Do they need another block of rooms to go to? In turn, ensure your employees know what’s happening so that customer-facing staff can answer guest questions confidently.
With some additional attention to detail, surviving a hotel renovation is indeed possible – even likely! — if you take just a few of these tips to heart.
“Today’s modern travelers have changed. They are empowered, educated and have very specific attributes they are seeking during their hotel stays. Amenities have become tremendously important – travelers aren’t looking for a just soap, shampoo and conditioner, they are looking for an experience, something they can relate to. Whether an environmentally conscious traveler or business traveler, guests are demanding more out of their hotel stays than ever before.” Modern travelers are expecting a sustainable approach to hotel’s amenities. Some options to consider include:
offering amenities in bio-degradable or recyclable packaging,
developing an entirely bespoke line of bath products – which let’s you communicate your hotel’s own values/commitment to green packaging, organic ingredients,
partnering with existing, known brands to develop a bath line your guests will immediately recognize and associate with your brand, such as what Oscar de la Renta did for the Peninsula Hotels,
thinking beyond just the standard amenities. For example, the The Mandarin Oriental Paris Hotel worked with local Parisian perfumer, Diptyque, to create a uniquely scented line of products.
We know that bathrooms are a potential gateway to negative hotel reviews. After all, comments about bathrooms appear 2.24x more often in negative comments from guests than in positive ones. Ranking right up there with overall room size and hotel location, baths can be considered a vital element in how your hotel guests evaluate your hotel.
So why ARE hotel guest baths so important?
In reviewing a discussion thread on Trip Advisor, “Hotel Bathrooms – Size Does Matter,” a few common themes kept reappearing:
Modern Travelers Carry More Stuff. Granted historically this may have been divided by male/female, but overall we are seeing a growing trend as more men are investing in personal care products to hygiene/health/well-being as well as a growing population interested in physical appearance improvement. Women on average use 12 products/men use average of 6 products daily. So it’s safe to say that typically, people today have more “things” in the bath: toiletries, makeup, appliances like hair dryers, curling irons, shavers, etc.
Further emphasizing the need for bath design attention, as one reviewer notes, when you’re at home, you have places to put thing away, “everything you needed within reach.” This harkens to some similar sentiments we’ve seen in hotel guest reviews that guests want at least what they have at home… if not better.
And as families travel together, the need for counter space to accommodate everyone’s personal care items only multiplies.
Plus, as some reviewers note, spaciousness — as in extra counter space, drawers, shelving (all which allow a guest places to put their accoutrements) — contributes to the overall feeling of luxury, accommodation and roominess.
Granted, there are some people who will complain out of sheer sadism. There are also those who are/were confused about your offer/what they thought they would be getting. However, researchers at MIT’s Sloan Management school found that the majority of customers write bad online reviews out of sheer desperation – because they have typically tried to get resolution to their problems offline, first.
So how can you address this? Do an audit of your baths, with the modern traveler in mind.
If you typically have 2 people staying in your room, don’t assume everyone is “low maintenance.” Plan for the “high maintenance” traveller who brought their own hair dryer, a curling iron, and 22 beauty regime items.
Don’t assume your guests will keep their toiletries in their little “ditty bag” or “kit.” Some guests will like to spread some things out on the counter to be able to get to the items easily.
Now: put two people in the room. Can you and one other person “get ready” in the morning easily? Comfortably? Are you both fighting for the outlets so he can trim his beard, while she curls her hair?
Now, throw in a monkey wrench: what about kids?
Go back to an earlier statement: hotel travelers expect at least as much as what they have at home. If the average American family is 2.54, and is used to having 2600 square feet, with 1.05 people per bath (or, virtually no one in a family having to share a bath anymore). Single family homes average 2.56 baths.
Not only are hotels “asking” guests to share baths with their fellow travel companion(s), but they are also typically doing it in smaller spaces. Even if it’s a short trip (1-2 nights), that could become uncomfortable quickly.
Consider redesigning your baths with your modern traveler in mind. You may be surprised at the impact to your hotel revenues and reviews!
While tile has always been a viable option for the bathroom walls, this is a trend that is growing – replacing paint and wallpaper as the favored wall covering– in 2016.
Metallics as an accent make a design lean toward the dramatic. Even in small doses, metallic is a hit.
It will be everywhere this year, but it will play a supporting role. Tile will jump off the wall in all kinds of 3D designs this year. While trends will still favor neutral colors, textures will be anything but neutral.
Look for geometric pattern, waves, handcrafted look, and high-low mosaic patterns. Tile on the wall is getting bigger and getting away from classic mosaic backsplash. It won’t be unusual to see large format tile, including planks. The new favorite will be tiles 24 inches or more in length.
Reviews are so vital to the hotel industry. Just take a few of these facts into consideration:
A Trust You survey says hotel location, service and the quality of the rooms were the most important attributes that were mentioned more than anything else in hotel reviews.
Bathroom cleanliness and their size were imperative to the hotel reviewers. Negative reviews are 2.24x more likely than positive wants to include some kind of comment about the bathroom.
Improve Hotel Baths Proactively
So while a good review might not necessarily include comments about the hotel bath, if a hotel manager or operations director is trying to proactively address potential issues in their hotel — trying to prevent bad reviews, there is no bigger hot button for people who write bad hotel reviews than the bath area.
What makes this even more important: a recent survey was conducted by Search Engine Land and found that 88% of people now trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. People trust the reviews they read on hotel sites like Trip Advisor.
Other people’s opinions matter. A lot.
Improving Baths Can Improve Bottom Line
How much can those opinions matter to your hotel business? Positive reviews on review websites, like TripAdvisor, can be extremely beneficial for our hotel customers.