Hotel Lobby Renovations: How to Minimize Guest Disruption

By Rollin Bell Founder / CEO, PCM Construction | October 28, 2008

Hotel renovations are on the rise. According to a report issued by accounting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers, U.S. Hotels spent a total of $3 billion renovating and upgrading guest rooms and public spaces in 2004. Of this spending, a large percentage was devoted to major structural renovation activities. In its biannual Lodging Survey which includes responses from more than 2,150 hotel managers and owners, the American Hotel and Lodging Association reported that nearly 90 percent of participants said to be planning major structural renovations in the coming year.

Certainly there are many benefits to a hotel renovation. The design and construction of a new lobby or common area can help reposition an aging property or create interest among a new segment of guests. For other properties, a renovation could simply be a way of reinforcing an existing brand with a more contemporary look. Regardless of the strategic goals, a renovation can create long term value for a hotel and its shareholders.

By focusing too much about the future benefits of a renovation and not enough about the guest experience during the process itself, hotel executives risk undermining the customer goodwill they are working hard to create. Dust, noise, and even the unsightly aesthetics of exposed building materials will have a negative impact on the way guests perceive your hotel - and more importantly - how they will communicate their experience to friends, family or even hotel rating Web sites where their comments will live indefinitely.

Communication and Planning

Critical to the success of your hotel renovation project is communicating with guests about the timing and nature of the construction work. One way of accomplishing this goal is to keep your staff informed about the progress of the renovation efforts and encouraging them to share information with guests. Clear signage should also be used on the job site to highlight areas under construction and restrict access to parts of the hotel that may present a danger to your guests. By keeping your guests in the know about project milestones and other activities that could be potentially disruptive ahead of time, hotel executives can better manage expectations and reduce potential complaints down the road.

In addition to a strong communications strategy, it is important for hotel executives to become actively involved in the construction planning process. I was recently reading through a series of comments posted on a popular hotel rating Web site and was shocked to learn about one particular lobby renovation that happened in late December. The timing of the renovation wasn't what surprised me but rather the fact that more wasn't done to manage the climate of the lobby during construction. Apparently, the contractor insisted that the doors to the outside had to remain open while the renovation was in progress.

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.