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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Eco-Friendly Practices: The Greening of Your Bottom Line

There are strong moral and ethical reasons why a hotel should incorporate eco-friendly practices into their business but it is also becoming abundantly clear that “going green” can dramatically improve a hotel's bottom line. When energy-saving measures are introduced - fluorescent bulbs, ceiling fans, linen cards, lights out cards, motion sensors for all public spaces, and energy management systems - energy bills are substantially reduced. When water-saving equipment is introduced - low-flow showerheads, low-flow toilets, waterless urinals, and serving water only on request in restaurants - water bills are also considerably reduced. Waste hauling is another major expense which can be lowered through recycling efforts and by avoiding wastefully-packaged products. Vendors can be asked to deliver products in minimal wrapping, and to deliver products one day, and pick up the packaging materials the next day - generating substantial savings. In addition, renewable sources of energy (solar, geothermal, wind, etc.) have substantially improved the economics of using alternative energies at the property level. There are other compelling reasons to initiate sustainability practices in their operation. Being green means guests and staff are healthier, which can lead to an increase in staff retention, as well as increased business from health conscious guests. Also, sooner or later, all properties will be sold, and green hotels will command a higher price due to its energy efficiencies. Finally, some hotels qualify for tax credits, subsidies and rebates from local, regional and federal governments for the eco-friendly investments they've made in their hotels. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document how some hotels are integrating sustainable practices into their operations and how their hotels are benefiting from them.