By Amir Anders
There is no secret recipe to maximizing guest occupancy during a hotel renovation. Minimizing the interference in your guests’ experience and minimizing the downtime is the obvious goal. Taking the time to sufficiently prepare for the renovation and partnering with an experienced general contractor will allow for a successful renovation.
We always tell our clients that they can’t spend too much time on planning for the renovation and asking all the important questions before the work begins. Experience, efficiency and speed are a few of the main ingredients. After all, the quicker the area is renovated, the quicker it can go back into inventory and return to generating revenue.
Review your sales data: It’s best to renovate during a lower occupancy period when you will be displacing fewer guests. By having a larger area of the property available for renovation at one time, it allows the general contractor to be more efficient, lowering your costs and property area downtimes. It is also essential to limit work to daytime hours — in this way the trades will be working during the times that most guests are not physically in the hotel.
Build a ‘mock-up room’ before starting the renovations. Doing this will uncover problems early on and answer 90 per cent of potential questions. It will enable your design team to fine-tune their processes before the renovations get into full swing. This will also go a long way to keep the renovation on-schedule once it kicks off.
Renovate floor by floor: Start from the top downward and remove two floors at a time out of inventory, always keeping a buffer floor between the occupied and the under-construction floors. Stopping the flow of the construction is both costly and detrimental to the schedule. Once the top floor is completed and put back into inventory, release another floor to the trades.
Have a plan B and C for materials. While the designers may have chosen some sleek finishes, it is important to have a few options to choose from in case some are not immediately available. While Asia is often the default market from which to purchase, sourcing domestically will ensure that items won’t get stuck in customs or experience shipping delays that will ultimately delay the entire project.
Make every effort to ensure that your property doesn’t look like it’s under renovation. One of the main goals for owners during a renovation should be to minimize disruption to guests and to prevent them from feeling as if they’re staying in a construction zone. It is critical to diligently separate areas under renovation from the rest of the hotel. Allocate funds to an interim reception area that doesn’t look sparse or slapped together. Ensure temporary areas are well decorated and don’t look “temporary.” Have a plan for how long various areas will be out of revenue and identify areas that can be expedited so they resume contributing to revenues as soon as possible. Keep workmen out of sight of guests by ensuring that all guest areas are off limits to the trades. Above all, have areas adjacent to those under renovation cleaned constantly; this is imperative for both appearance and for safety.
Work with the best and the most experienced architects, interior designers, engineers and procurement agents. Cooperation amongst the team of professionals is one of the most important components of a successful project. The expertise of each one of them will positively affect the renovation schedule and reduce the overall renovation timeline. Ensure that the plans are clearly understood by all the stakeholders involved.
One cannot overemphasize the importance of proper pre-planning. By following these suggestions, you will make the overall process run smoothly and allow for maximum occupancy during the renovations.
Amir Anders is president of Jemlor Construction Inc., a general contracting firm specializing in the construction & renovation of commercial, industrial and hotel projects across Canada. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org