Mr. Roedel, III

Development & Construction

How to Successfully Renovate Hotel Properties: Tips for Controlling Costs and Maintaining Quality

By Fred B. Roedel, III, Partner & Managing Member, Roedel Companies, LLC

Keys to a successful renovation

Renovation projects are successful only when all involved parties are aware of and plan for the unique challenges they pose. Completing renovations in an operating hotel, making today's standards work in an older building, completing work within a short down period, and effectively dealing with existing and unknown conditions without negatively impacting the budget, the schedule or guests are just a few common challenges.

The keys to a successful renovation project involving one or more hotels are:

  • Having a clear vision and objective for the project.
  • Defining standards for the time, cost and quality of the project.
  • Outlining scopes of work and linking them directly back to the objective and performance standards.
  • Developing a well-conceived and reliable schedule that integrates operations and construction to ensure a smooth transition for transitioning guestrooms in and out of service during the renovation process.
  • Involving qualified contractors who truly understand the work they are undertaking, have the resources necessary to meet the schedule and budget, and the experience to deal with unexpected challenges.

Project Team

No matter how large or small they are, all renovation projects have a set amount of dollars assigned to them. One of the best ways hotel owners and investors can ensure that projects are completed within a defined budget is to pull together a team of professionals who have extensive hotel experience and will work together to oversee the entire renovation process. Core team members should include owners/investors, operators, designers and contractors. Not including construction expertise early on in the process typically lowers the reliability meeting time, cost and quality standards.

Objective / Vision & Performance Standards

A clear vision and objective are critical elements to keeping renovation projects on track. Standards must be defined regarding time, cost and quality prior to starting a project.

Time:

  • Time standards include the time allotted for assessing a property, designing the renovation, bidding the work and completing the work.
  • Time includes the actual hours that construction can occur, e.g. 9AM - 3PM.
  • Staying focused on time standards is critical to a renovation project since customers will be staying at the property and the operations staff must be able to do their jobs. Not accounting for guests and operations during a project is disastrous. Cost:

  • Clearly define the investment limits for the project and break it down into the most relevant factors, i.e. design costs, construction costs and operating costs.

  • Prior to defining investment limits, do the evaluation necessary to be confident that the market will provide an economic return on the invested capital. Quality:

  • Be clear and committed to what you see the product being. If working within a brand, this standard is most likely outlined. If the standard is not well defined, then it will be incumbent upon the owner and/or operator to establish this quality standard.

  • Quality considerations include the level of construction drawings to be completed, the level of accountability, outlining current conditions; identifying the type of contractors needed and the methods of qualifying them prior to bidding; and detailing the condition and appearance of the property that must be maintained during construction.

Design

Once the standards of the renovation project are established, the exact condition of the property must be determined. Have an accurate building engineering and status report completed, it serves two purposes. The first is to identify existing conditions, which enables the designers and constructor to address and mitigate their potential impact on the project. The second is to identify outstanding building code issues that may require action.

If a building engineering and status report is not prepared prior to starting the design phase, it is unlikely that the final design will work when unknown existing conditions arise, a very common occurrence during renovations.

The Project Team needs to be actively involved in the design process. Design consultants should present progress reports at regular intervals to its members so the project is evaluated on an ongoing basis against the time, cost and quality parameters.** **

Construction

Three of the most demanding elements of a renovation are bidding the job, scheduling and the actual work.

Bidding:

  • Take the time to qualify all bidders. Renovating a hotel property requires people who are very good at their trade, can handle unexpected surprises efficiently and effectively, are able to work with people and maintain a clean organized process.
  • Never risk your property to an inexperienced contractor. Doing so will result in dissatisfied paying guests and a tainted reputation. Schedule:

  • A well thought out renovation timeline that accounts for the entire scope of a project is critical because it will minimize the impact on guests and operations. It is crucial to incorporate the operations tasks within it. Operations must remove operating elements from rooms before work begins and then re-organize all rooms before they are put back into inventory.

  • Whenever possible, renovate one typical room before starting the entire renovation process. Doing this will answer 90% of potential questions and provide all contractors with a chance to fine-tune their processes. The Work:

Despite qualifying contractors and completing a one-room test, there will always be questions and issues to resolve, especially at the front-end of a project. Make sure you have a team of experienced professionals in place that can quickly answer and address issues during the initial days of a project. Doing so will help ensure that your project will not come to a screeching halt.

  • Make sure the process for ordering and receiving materials is clear and that all necessary materials are readily available prior to starting work. Failure to do so will bring work to a stop and unfinished rooms will be unrentable while everyone waits for the materials to arrive.
  • Finally, have a clear and agreed upon process for reviewing and accepting completed rooms. The more actively involved either the owner and/or manager are, the more efficiently issues can be resolved and rooms put back into service.

Avoid Unpleasant Surprises

In order to keep a renovation project on time and within budget, it is important to be cognizant and on top of the following areas:

  • Work hard on communications: The property manager must have a reliable contact with the workforce that they can go to at anytime. The manager of the project must be prepared to address issues. Proactive communication between operations and construction will bring reliability to the time it takes to renovate and re-activate guestrooms. It is also important to communicate to guests all the positive aspects that a renovation will translate into for them through appropriate signage and by keeping operation's staff in the loop so they can inform curious guests of the wonderful changes.
  • Adhere to the Schedule: Ensure that neither too few nor to many rooms are out of service at any one time. Work crews must be methodical and organized in their work. They cannot be going back to address issues, this will only hinder the entire process. Continually review the schedule, the required tasks and seek opportunities to bring reliability to the time, cost and/or quality of a project.
  • Keep the work zone and guest areas separate and distinct: Design all work processes to avoid interaction between guests and operations. Never allow guests in a work zone or contractors in guest zones.
  • Maintain clean work and staging areas: Work and staging areas, inside and outside, must be cleaned daily. If the potential exists for guests and/or operations to be around a work area, be certain to use that proper signage and barriers to protect everyone. At the same time, take advantage of the opportunity to market the improvements you are making to the property. All workers need to maintain a clean and orderly presence. They are a reflection on your property. While renovating a hotel can be challenging, proper planning and being prepared for the unexpected makes the process smoother and helps maintain positive guest relations.

Mr. Fred Roedel is a Manager of Roedel Companies, LLC along with his brother David. He shares the responsibility of developing and implementing the annual strategic plan of Roedel Companies. He also shares the responsibility of approving the final design, budget and timeline of any asset developed. Mr. Roedel is President of ROK Builders, LLC, the wholly-owned Construction Management subsidiary of Roedel Companies. In this capacity he is responsible for developing the strategic and annual plans of ROK Builders. Mr. Roedel, III can be contacted at 603-654-2040 ext. 105 or FredRoedel@roedelcompanies.com Extended Bio...

HotelExecutive.com retains the copyright to the articles published in the Hotel Business Review. Articles cannot be republished without prior written consent by HotelExecutive.com.

Receive our daily newsletter with the latest breaking news and hotel management best practices.
Hotel Business Review on Facebook
RESOURCE CENTER - SEARCH ARCHIVES
General Search:

APRIL: Cultivating Guest Satisfaction and Retention

Michael McCall

Customer loyalty programs have become a 6 billion dollar a year industry, and yet for many firms they remain an expensive customer benefit that is unconnected to the firms overall marketing strategy. In this brief report a number of mechanisms are proposed that may help firms to retain customers and increase overall satisfaction. READ MORE

Dawn  Wells

Juggling the needs of guests, the personalities of associates and the demands of owners makes the daily life of a general manager anything but routine. As a multi-tasking GM, where do you start? Award-winning GM Dawn Wells, a seasoned professional in Charleston, South Carolina, shares her the insights and experiences working with associates that have resulted in top guest satisfaction scores at her hotel. She notes that showing the staff that you care is an important first step. Giving encouragement and recognition to her team coupled with building and maintaining relationships combined to make a difference with her associates, guests and ultimately the hotel’s bottom line. READ MORE

Sapna Mehta  Mangal

Counterfactual thinking is an overlooked cognitive notion that can adversely or favorably sway a hotel guest’s satisfaction and retention level. Research has shown that counterfactual thinking can magnify customer satisfaction or customer dissatisfaction levels. Counterfactual thinking is a conduit to a range of human emotions like feeling of regret, anger, and relief. These emotions in the context of hotels can be linked to a guest’s post purchase service evaluation. Examples of counterfactual thinking, alongside with guest satisfaction, and retention levels is also laid out. The write up helps to bridge these conceptual gaps, and other related issues to establish pivotal connections among these otherwise unrelated concepts. READ MORE

Tom Conran

A hotel is more than a building. It’s a place. It should not be viewed as a commodity but rather a distinct buying proposition with meaningful benefits. By creating and delivering the right kinds of experiences it can accomplish that mission and be transformed from merely a physical space to a dynamic destination and, as a result, become the preferred spot for guests and travelers. The key to doing this is to develop an “experience framework” that details the proposed positioning of the hotel. Once established, the various contributors and property attributes should individually and collectively align and reinforce the experience proposed. READ MORE

Coming Up In The May Online Hotel Business Review


Feature Focus
Hotel Sustainable Development: Integrating Practices for the Environment and the Bottom Line
The term “sustainable development” was first coined in 1987. In a report entitled, “Our Common Future,” the Brundtland Commission defined sustainable development as follows: “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” This definition immediately caught on. In the business world, it is sometimes referred to as a triple bottom line – capturing the concept that investments are profitable, good for people and protective of the environment. Within the hotel industry, companies have taken an active role in committing themselves to addressing climate change and sustainability. Hotel operations have realized that environmentally sound practices not only help the environment, but can lead to cost reductions, business expansion, and profit growth as consumers increasingly seek environmentally sustainable products and services. In a recent survey by Deloitte, it was noted that 95% of respondents believe that the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives. Additionally, 38% of respondents said they made efforts to identify “green” hotels before traveling, and 40% said they would be willing to pay a premium for the privilege. These results suggest that consumers want and expect sustainability in their travel plans. In response to these trends, many hotel companies and on-line travel agencies have even begun offering their consumers an opportunity to purchase carbon offsets to reduce the environmental impact of their trips. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document how some leading hotels are integrating sustainability practices into their hotels and how their operations, consumers and the environment are profiting from them.