Top Challenges of Developing New Hotels in Historic Zones

By Fred B. Roedel, III Partner & Managing Member, Roedel Companies, LLC | October 28, 2008

Developing a new hotel property in a historic area presents an exciting opportunity to develop a unique property. It, however, also presents significant challenges that if not kept in mind can become roadblocks to success.

Why would anyone in their right mind choose to take on the extra headaches commonly associated with developing a hotel in a historic zone? The answer is that a properly planned and well-thought out hotel development in a historic zone leads to the creation of a truly unique property that often becomes an important focal point for the surrounding community. Both factors result is a positive economic return for investors.

The development of the Hilton Garden Inn in Manchester, NH, which is located in the historic millyard district of the city, is an example of the successful development of a new hotel in a historic zone. If you are considering developing a property in a historic zone, be sure to address the following.

1. Location

Locating a hotel in the middle of a historically significant area may be interesting, but if your guests cannot easily get there, or the neighborhood is dark and unwelcoming at night, it will not matter how nice you make it, they will not stay there. Never lose focus of the fact that hotel guests must be able to get to your hotel with relative ease and must feel comfortable being at your hotel when they are there.

2. Positive Market Analysis

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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.