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.