Eight Tips for Renovation Decisions

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

Decisions during hotel remodeling

The 16-month, $350M renovation of the Savoy in London made news around the world. Photo by USA Today.

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

Decisions during hotel remodeling

Be selective about when you schedule your renovation. If your hotel is known for its wedding facilities, choose a different time. Photo by: Royal Regency Hotel NY.

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.

Decisions during hotel remodeling

Adding a manager’s reception for guests during renovation can be a welcomed treat to compensate for any construction inconveniences. Photo by: Embassy Suites.

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.

 

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