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How to Renovate a Hotel More Painlessly

The phrase “under renovation” can refer to a wide spectrum of work – from relatively simple cosmetic improvements to a complete re-do of architectural elements and FF&E. How extensive the work will determine how great the potential inconvenience  on your guests.

Regardless of the scope of work, however, your goal for the hotel is to return rooms to service as quickly as possible – while your goal for guests should be to prevent them from feeling as if they’re staying in a construction zone.

There are a series of things you can do to make guests more comfortable during hotel renovations and they all fall into three basic categories: plan, communicate, and manage. Here are some specific suggestions.

1. Plan

Renovate in stages – coordinate carefully with your architect, project engineer, and FF&E designer to determine the sequence in which areas of the hotel should be refurnished. Your decision will be influenced by such factors as:

•how long various areas be “out of revenue” for you

•areas that can be expedited so they resume contributing to revenues as soon as possible

•what the schedule is for shipping, receiving, and installing various products.

•Remember: areas that are finished should not be exposed to unnecessary construction traffic and dirt from areas that are still being worked on, otherwise you’ll undo all of your fine renovation efforts and expenses.

Limit work to daytime hours – you won’t have to pay overtime to workers and they’ll be working during the times that most guests are not physically in the hotel.

Arrange substitute facilities – guests will still wish to use a pool, gym, or business center so make arrangements with a nearby hotel or health club. You can even offer shuttle bus service to these off-site locations as a way of further minimizing the inconvenience.

2. Communicate

Hotel Renovation is a serious business so keep your staff informed – be sure to share plans with your employees completely, continually, and candidly. These are the people who will have to interact with guests on the front line every day, so equip them to answer questions and to provide information.

•Consider a daily update in-person for senior staff and a weekly update, either in-person or in writing, for all employees.

Keep your guests informed — travellers are willing to understand and put up with a certain amount of inconvenience, but only if they are provided with facts and treated with extra courtesy.

For example:

•Put a notice or warning on your website

•Train hotel personnel who take phone reservations and provide them with appropriate points of information which they can share with prospective guests

•Send a letter by postal mail or e-mail to every guest immediately after a confirmed reservation has been made

•Provide every guest with an explanation letter at the time of check-in plus have duplicate information in each guest room

•Use a strong combination of on-site signage, including color design boards, directional signs, and “pardon our dust” signs

•Use these communication vehicles as marketing tools to explain how the hotel is being improved and when the enhancements will be completed. This can be especially valuable in gaining the loyalty of repeat business travelers.

3. Manage

Stay Ahead of Site Upkeep & Maintenance – daily housekeeping of areas under renovation is imperative for both appearance and safety.

Consider these ideas:

Use partitions such as pipe and drape or mobile walls to keep dust and workers in the construction site and guests out – work will go faster and easier when workers and guests don’t have to navigate around each other

•Be sure to have adequate and designated storage areas for both incoming new products and outgoing debris

•Create a “buffer zone” for guests by having those rooms which are adjacent to the construction be the last ones rented each night

•Use secondary or freight elevators for transporting equipment and workers

Establish A Complaint Procedure – have a system in place for handling those guests or situations which require special attention. Train your employees to spot these occasions and empower the appropriate personnel to take action immediately to correct the matter, for example, by offering a free meal, more loyalty points, or a discounted or complimentary future stay.

Adjust Room Prices – in some ways, reducing room rates may be a strategy of last resort because it can reduce revenues. On the other hand, you can use price reductions as a promotional incentive on numerous discount travel sites such as Hotwire.com and Priceline.com.

While some travellers resent paying full price while hotel renovation work is in progress, there are others who shop for bargains and therefore have a whole different set of expectations for their hotel stay.

No hotelier can do away with the sounds, smells, and sawdust of construction – they are, in fact, the signs of progress. However, conscientious and courteous owners can take simple steps to minimize the impact on their guests – and in the process, maximize guest satisfaction and loyalty.