How Smart Design Changes Can Help Maximize a Hotel’s Operating Efficiency

By Kyle Rogg President & COO, Value Place | March 16, 2014

Three years ago Value Place’s executive management team decided to take a critical look at our building designs and see how we could make each hotel as efficient as possible. Terms like “green”, “smart buildings”, and “sustainable design” came to mind that guided parts of our quest. Like other hospitality brands, business owners, and corporate citizens, we value green certification and sustainability initiatives. But the recurring mantra that dominated our executive board room conversation “operating efficiency” – making a building that, as a whole, enhances operational performance and opportunity. Our goal was to design a building, top to bottom, that would result in real savings to help provide our guests quality, comfortable rooms at competitive rates. We needed to honor our core values – being clean, safe, simple, and affordable but still raise the bar on return on investment. It was not easy but we did it. Smart design, as we call it, has proven to be the driver behind cost reduction, staff efficiency, and maximum return on investment for our franchisees and investors. The following are just some of the many examples of how focusing on decisions and execution in the early stages of design and construction, make a positive impact in the eventual bottom line later in the process.

LED Lighting Saves on Energy and More

We have 600 ceiling lights in the average Value Place property. Our traditional design used compact fluorescent light fixtures. That meant staff members periodically had to climb ladders to remove glass coverings and clean out debris including insects. Certainly not a job any one likes to do and not something that is attractive to our guests. Perhaps as importantly, it is not a good or efficient use of our staff’s time. Our change to LED (light-emitting diode) lighting made the difference. LEDs use 80 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs, last five times as long as fluorescents, do not require special disposal due to hazardous chemicals (like neon, lead powder, mercury, etc.), and without glass coverings, there are no trapped insects to clean.

There were added benefits, we found, to LED conversion in the construction process. The slim height profile of the light, with about one inch of protrusion verses the six to eight inches of allowance required for fluorescent fixtures, makes the hallways feel taller, more spacious, and more inviting for guests.

LEDs represent a smart design choice that saves our franchisees during construction, operations, and incur on average just 20 percent of the electricity costs associated with traditional lighting. We install them in every new build and are even retrofitting some of our existing properties.

Smart Design Tip

Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.