Beyond Reconstruction - Tips for Keeping Guests Happy During Renovation

By Michael Goldstein President & CEO, Packard Hospitality Group | October 28, 2008

As the hospitality industry continues to evolve, offering new and exciting properties and products, hotel guests inherently expect more of the hotels at which they stay. They are consistently looking for better accommodations, enhanced amenities and a more comfortable hotel environment. This often leads to either occasional large-scale renovations or smaller, more frequent renovation projects to enhance a property's offerings.

Many properties can not afford the luxury of closing down operations during renovation. As such, one of the biggest challenges that hoteliers across the country face is how to effectively complete either type of renovation while staying profitable and keeping the hotel property open to guests. A quick Internet search shows many disgruntled guests who were unhappy with the quality of service provided to them at various hotels where they stayed while construction took place. They have posted their unflattering experiences and reviews on popular sites where other potential guests are likely to read and be dissuaded from staying at that particular property. Many of the guests' complaints could have been easily resolved, or altogether avoided, had the property adequately planned or known how to deal with guests during a renovation.

The following steps and actions can be taken by an hotelier to maintain order, lessen the impact of construction on the guests, and create a more positive environment for everyone involved, including hotel staff.

Plan Accordingly

The most critical step to any renovation project where guests are involved is creating a detailed plan to follow. The general manager, general contractor, property manager and possibly even the owner, should be involved in the planning process, working to determine how to properly plan for the renovation and how the various construction projects will be scheduled as to not interfere with a guest's stay.

The overall goal of the plan should be presenting guests with a satisfactory product in an atmosphere that is virtually untouched by construction. Because every event, setback, and group booking can't be predicted at the beginning of the construction process, the schedule/plan will need to be flexible enough to be modified multiple times throughout the construction process, if not each day.

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Social Media: Getting Personal

There Social media platforms have revolutionized the hotel industry. Popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Tumblr now account for 2.3 billion active users, and this phenomenon has forever transformed how businesses interact with consumers. Given that social media allows for two-way communication between businesses and consumers, the emphasis of any marketing strategy must be to positively and personally engage the customer, and there are innumerable ways to accomplish that goal. One popular strategy is to encourage hotel guests to create their own personal content - typically videos and photos -which can be shared via their personal social media networks, reaching a sizeable audience. In addition, geo-locational tags and brand hashtags can be embedded in such posts which allow them to be found via metadata searches, substantially enlarging their scope. Influencer marketing is another prevalent social media strategy. Some hotels are paying popular social media stars and bloggers to endorse their brand on social media platforms. These kinds of endorsements generally elicit a strong response because the influencers are perceived as being trustworthy by their followers, and because an influencer's followers are likely to share similar psychographic and demographic traits. Travel review sites have also become vitally important in reputation management. Travelers consistently use social media to express pleasure or frustration about their guest experiences, so it is essential that every review be attended to personally. Assuming the responsibility to address and correct customer service concerns quickly is a way to mitigate complaints and to build brand loyalty. Plus, whether reviews are favorable or unfavorable, they are a vital source of information to managers about a hotel's operational performance.  The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to effectively incorporate social media strategies into their businesses.