Hotel Development: Port Overview

By Andrew Glincher Office Managing Partner, Nixon Peabody LLP | October 28, 2008

Developers are increasingly finding alternative uses for ports. Through the years, port development has been the focus of many big cities from San Francisco to Boston and most recently, in Washington, D.C. as the nation's capital develops its Southwest Waterfront.

Ports can be an economic boom for cities. A lot of wharf property in many big cities originated because of industrial uses related to goods and the shipping industry. Over time, this eventually gravitated to office use and now has expanded to commercial and residential uses. In some cities, ports have become a tourist attraction. Port development in Boston, for example, was expedited by the Big Dig and the redevelopment that followed which drew more attention to Boston's waterfront property such as the Seaport District and the Fort Point Channel.

In Washington, D.C., currently there is more than $2 billion dollars in revitalization projects under construction along the city's rivers. On the Southeast and Southwest D.C. shores, about 2 1/2 square miles of land which were once just parking lots are now being transformed into a maritime-based mixed-use neighborhood with housing, restaurants, shops, offices and cultural attractions.

As ports generate more higher-income uses, this is good news for the real estate industry as the property values rise resulting in many redeveloped high-end apartments, condos, offices, restaurants, and of course, hotels.

What challenges do hotel developers face when building near ports or on waterfront property?

Space is always a challenge when developing along the waterfront. Lots are irregularly shaped or narrow strips. Often port areas are separated from other development by infrastructure (i.e., rail lines and highway systems that were developed to bring materials from the port inland), and are obviously limited by the water on at least one side.

Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.