Communicate Your PIP Plights and Progress - or Perish

By Steve Van President & CEO, Prism Hotels | December 08, 2013

After reading my last column, you've come to accept that Property Improvement Plans (PIPs) are essential for remaining competitive in today's market and keeping your brand flag. Renovating a hotel while keeping it open and keeping guests happy is one of the most difficult tasks in our business. It's as tricky as operating on a battlefield or taking the SAT with the flu. But in today's economic environment it is absolutely necessary.

Now on to the next step: learning how to keep customers happy during these renovations. How can you protect your guest service scores, maintain your Trip Advisor rankings and keep your customers booking while executing your renovation on time and on budget? Here is a run down of how to properly manage expectations and mitigate loses.

A smart owner or manager can stem guest loss with a commitment to connect with all parties involved-before, during and after the project-without harming the goal of getting the work done as quickly and correctly as possible. In my team's experience as project management consultants, we've found that no matter the scale of the project, success always stems from effective communication.

Hotel managers and owners can conjure amazing magic in planning the logistics of a renovation, but more than a few drop the ball on effective communication. This failure isn't surprising. However, it is important to note if the communication planning is lax, there will be just as much-if not more-cash lost during a PIP.

Regarding the messaging of the communication and the audience, there are three different "customers" that should be kept happy during a renovation: the owner, the staff and the guests. It is necessary to consider what each of these "customers" wants and needs regarding the PIP. The owner, of course, wants a quick project turnaround with minimal distractions and no money lost. The hotel staff-an important audience that is often undervalued in this process-want to be kept in the know so they can inform guests with the best information possible. While, guests want to be privy to any information that might impact their experience during their stay.

Long before a renovation begins, a communication plan should be built that addresses all parties involved, from the owner and staff to the brand and even the vendors. This plan should include a method to inform these customers, in addition to future guests, of what work will be done, when it will be done and why. Also, with ownership changing hands frequently due to consolidations or foreclosures, keeping all new faces involved in the communication of the renovation plans is critical.

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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.