The Benefits and Challenges of Modular Hospitality Construction

By Scott Parisi President, EcoGreen Energy Solutions | May 20, 2018

There is no doubt a significant buzz within the hospitality industry regarding modular construction. The modular trend crosses most sectors of the industry including luxury, select serve and economy hospitality brands. Likewise, the modular construction industry has also seen adoption across regions - within suburban and urban areas, as well as, cold and warm climates.

Modular building is not a new strategy. This strategy has intrigued me since 1984 when our family home was erected in a few days and finished within a four-month window. As a fourteen year old growing up in the Finger Lakes Region of upstate New York this left a lasting impression in my mind. Harsh winters meant construction was a seasonal industry.

Time saving benefits of modular construction are what immediately come to mind. Beyond this, some other benefits include enhanced quality, budget control, safer working environments, and sustainability components. Having guaranteed good weather and committed volume of work at modular construction facilities have attracted quality skilled trade labor.

Whenever looking at sustainability I always like to bring to attention the people and the social element. A construction tradesman specializing in large commercial construction may have to travel hours to a jobsite for months at a time or even relocate from jobsite to jobsite. The quality of life for these individuals to be working at the same location all the time is a major benefit. Manufacturers have the opportunity to build a culture focused on retention of tradesman reducing turnover and benefiting the overall quality of their builds.

The completeness of modular hotels is also a true benefit and often include finished bathrooms, bed frames and mattresses being set and even appliances being installed. The thoroughness of the details and finishes being included in the latest modular hospitality projects is further reducing time and amount of work being completed onsite.

Marriott International (NASDAQ: MAR) has been investigating and implementing modular construction strategies in the United States since 2014 officially announcing their pilot at their 2015 CONNECT conference.

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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.