Congratulations! You’ve decided to renovate your hotel. Now it may be brand mandated or it may be time to refresh your tired product but either way, it’s important to minimize the impact of hotel renovations on daily operations and by extension, your bottom line. Ideally, you’ve been maintaining at minimum an industry standard 4% of total revenue capital expenditures (capex) reserve to pay for the work. If not, financing your renovation is a topic for a separate post.
Planning is key and the process cannot start too early. If you’re doing an entire hotel renovation, mapping out the schedule and coordinating with the regular ebbs and flows of your high and low occupancy periods is essential. For example, if your peak season is in summer and your lowest occupancy period is in winter, you should coordinate your renovation so that you will be displacing the least amount of business possible. Climate permitting, roof work should be done in low occupancy periods when you can keep guests out of top floor rooms. Although any work should be done during standard business hours, we must remember that each of our guests have unique sleeping patterns and there’s no more surefire way of getting a negative guest review than to have their sleep experience impeded.
Minimizing the physical exposure of guests to a renovation’s impact is also crucial. Signs such as “pardon our dust,” professional wayfinding signage to redirect guests around impacted areas, or schematics of the post-renovation hotel posted near the front desk provide guests with more information so they are aware that their stay could be slightly impeded. If there are areas of the property that will be unsightly throughout construction, pipe and drape for internal areas or high, elegant fencing for external areas will diminish concerns from guests about how their stay will be impacted. And of course, it is also helpful to notify guests upon booking via phone, on your hotel website, and through pre-arrival emails that the hotel is going through a renovation. Most guests will be understanding so long as they have information prior to their stay that there is a renovation in progress.
Another important aspect of the renovation is getting to know the actual workers. Many contractors work across real estate assets and they may not be familiar with the nuances of working in a hotel. The sooner you can get to know each worker and ensure that he or she has an understanding of how important the guest experience is to the bottom line, the more likely these workers will be your allies throughout the renovation process. Be sure to coordinate with the construction manager or on-site supervisor, especially as some contractors may be subject to union restrictions, but don’t forget that we work in the hospitality industry and there’s no reason we shouldn’t be hospitable with all workers on site.
Renovating your hotel can be stressful enough, the last thing you want is to see a significant dip in revenue and profit when that is the exact opposite of why you are going through a renovation in the first place! Proper planning, financing, and team member training throughout the process will allow you to maintain hotel operations to the fullest extent possible. And when the process is done, you’ll be able to reap the rewards of your renovated product be it in increased profit, increased asset value, or the ability to refinance based on a higher value and pull out equity to expand your business.