Legal Outlook: Renovation Time!

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

Is it time to add onto the property, constructing new guest rooms, or a conference center, or recreational facilities, or a spa?

Are there relatively minor expenditures, short of new construction, that can add significant value?

As with other aspects of hotel development and management, knowledge of the marketplace, knowledge of your clientele and insight into your own positioning are crucial. For example, upscale isn't always the way to go. What if there is a new convention center? In a large city, with an abundance of luxury hotels within a short distance, perhaps a three-star hotel, offering convenience, accessibility and relatively low cost for business travelers and convention-goers, would be far better. You need to identify your customer and the demands of your location.

The big chains are all moving forward with efforts to make their clients more comfortable, whether through the installation of new beds, better sheets and towels, improved restaurants - many offering menus that accommodate the various diet trends we're seeing - and other aesthetic touches that make the traveler feel at home. Smaller, independent properties are going to have to follow suit if they want to compete and continue to attract loyal clients.

There's another trends hotels can take advantage of at relatively low cost as well. Technology is causing business to be mixed with pleasure more and more often. People traveling to a location mainly for business might extend their stay and invite their families to join them, if they knew there were facilities their families - and they -- could enjoy when not working. And leisure travelers find it easier to get away - more frequently and for longer periods - if they know they can easily stay connected to their office and business affairs.

Properties that are not traditional business hotels are now giving clients the ability to use high-speed wireless Internet connections in their rooms and throughout the hotel. Many are supplementing their business centers with banks of computers, installed at visible, central locations, so that clients passing by on their way to the pool or the restaurant can stop for a minute and check their e-mail.

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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.