Five Effective Ways to Make the Most of a Hotel Renovation

By John Ely Senior Vice President of Marketing, Signature Worldwide | June 17, 2012

I occasionally suffer from migraine headaches. They're brutal, with pain beyond most anything I've experienced, including many broken bones and bumps and bruises from playing sports. Why do I tell you this? Well, my migraines are sometimes brought on by stress, smells, or lack of sleep - of which I experienced all three during a recent stay at a hotel undergoing renovations.

I arrived two days early for my conference because I had a series of big presentations due that week, and I wanted to review them to ensure I was on track. I was told upon arrival that the entire hotel was undergoing a massive renovation. I had my choice of either being awakened early by demolition noise or I could stay in an area of the property that had recently been painted. I opted for the new paint, as noise was not a great option since I was trying to concentrate.

I got to my room and could certainly smell the distinct odor of fresh paint, but there was something else in the air too. With a trip down the hallway, I concluded that there was fresh carpet laid and the overwhelming aroma of glue permeated the place. I tried to stick it out in that room but by 3 a.m., the migraine had taken hold. In the morning, I asked to be moved to the "noisy" section.

Well, as you can imagine, that section was no better. During the first evening, I felt I had made a smart decision, but at 6 a.m., all positive thoughts were shattered when it sounded like someone was breaking through my wall! A bit of detective work uncovered workers removing old wall dividers in the room adjacent to mine. On my short trip back to my door, I wondered why I couldn't be residing in one of the other rooms at the end of the hallway.

At this point, I'm not sure if I was more frustrated and stressed out by the lack of sleep, the killer migraine, or the total lack of knowledge that I was staying at a construction site prior to my checking in. Had I known about the renovation, would I have still stayed? Yes, probably. But not knowing until the moment I arrived set my mood for the entire week.

This begs the question, "Can a hotel maintain the guest experience during a renovation?" Probably not at the same level as without the renovation, but it is possible to manage it much better than the example shared above! Let's face it - part of the customer's experience is the property and amenities. If they are not all available or exist in a state of disrepair, then the guest's tangible experiences will be lessened. However, there are ways to make the experience much more tolerable.

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Mobile Technology: The Future is Now

Mobile Technology continues to advance at a relentless pace and the hotel industry continues to adapt. Hotel guests have shown a strong preference for mobile self-service - from checking-in/out at a hotel kiosk, to ordering room service, making dinner reservations, booking spa treatments, and managing laundry/dry cleaning services. And they also enjoy the convenience of paying for these services with smart phone mobile payments. In addition, some hotels have adopted a “concierge in your pocket” concept. Through a proprietary hotel app, guests can access useful information such as local entertainment venues, tourist attractions, event calendars, and medical facilities and services. In-room entertainment continues to be a key factor, as guests insist on the capacity to plug in their own mobile devices to customize their entertainment choices. Mobile technology also allows for greater marketing opportunities. For example, many hotels have adopted the use of “push notifications” - sending promotions, discounts and special event messages to guests based on their property location, purchase history, profiles, etc. Near field communication (NFC) technology is also being utilized to support applications such as opening room doors, earning loyalty points, renting a bike, accessing a rental car, and more. Finally, some hotels have adopted more futuristic technology. Robots are in use that have the ability to move between floors to deliver room service requests for all kinds of items - food, beverages, towels, toothbrushes, chargers and snacks. And infrared scanners are being used by housekeeping staff that can detect body heat within a room, alerting staff that the room is occupied and they should come back at a later time. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in this exciting mobile technology space.