5 renovation tips from a pro

The LBA Hospitality-managed Homewood Suites Chattanooga lobby post-renovation. The hotel went through a renovation in 2009.

Renovations are a critical part of a hotel’s life cycle. And in the towers of hotel business power, executives are accustomed to the process. But there are many folks at the property level who’ve never been exposed to a sweeping renovation.

That can cause operational and customer complications if not managed properly. Since I have never been through a hotel renovation either, I became curious about the strategies that should be in place to minimize disruptions and boost business once the last coat of paint dries.

Judy Cluck, VP of Sales and Marketing with management company LBA Hospitality, demystified the process for me. 

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1. Communicate

A management company is the likely intermediary between ownership, contractors, property level employees and regional sales and marketing folks. Even an e-commerce director should be involved, too. Cluck suggests setting up a pre-renovation conference call 60 days prior to the renovation start date.

“You need to have regular calls to ensure all different disciplines are aligned. This helps keep people in the loop and aligned, especially when inevitable challenges come in to play,” said Cluck, noting LBA will complete nine renovations this year and have more scheduled for 2017. “You want to regularly discuss project progress and work closely with Director of Sales (DoS) to communicate with the community the hotel will be under renovation.”

She adds the more organized and structured the process is, combined with constant communication, the more successful a renovation will be. “It allows everyone to get educated and stay focused on challenges and get through to success,” she said.

The Homewood Suites Chattanooga lobby prior to renovation.

2. Limit Inconvenience

Cluck says they typically lock off an entire guestroom floor at a time to minimize disruption to hotel guests. But it’s the lobby that could potentially cause the most trouble—naturally.

“We try to get in and out as quickly as possible,” said Cluck. “We work with the contractor to minimize disruption and ensure that generally work starts after breakfast and is over before heavy check-ins starts in the afternoon."

And because they renovate guestrooms before the lobby, upset guests are typically mollified when they get to check into a renovated room. But she suggests training hotel staff to show empathy when guests are disgruntled and accommodate them as much as possible.

3. Cultivate Excitement

Get people visiting the hotel excited by posting design boards where guests can see them. And be sure all applicable sales folks have them, too. This is an integral part of the sales process that allows sales associates to shift the conversation with potential customers to a positive.

When the renovation is a few weeks away from nearing completion, schedule a pre-grand opening sales blitz. Have your local and regional sales team visit the property to better understand the renovation and then share the news with the community. Bring a fun giveaway to give to potential clients and be sure to invite them to a grand re-opening party

A guestroom at the Homewood Suites Chattanooga prior to being renovated.

 

Guestroom after the renovation.

4. Party Time

Cluck says LBA partners with the local chamber of commerce or CVB to have key community leaders, such as the mayor and other influencers, attend the hotel opening. This will drive recognition of the hotel within the community and get the local people in power to support your efforts.

Also, invite existing accounts and target accounts to celebrate the renovations. Then let the world know about the grand reopening via social media channels.

5. Spread the Word

Be sure you get professional photographs of the new look. Don’t do it yourself as they most likely won’t be as good. If that’s the case, you’ll lose opportunity to raise those rates! Then update sales collateral to have new images and renovation information.

Also, work with the director of e-commerce to put packages together. Cluck says she usually ties this to some type of rewards points giveaway to drive trial of the refreshed product. And get those photos uploaded to the brand.com website, your website and wherever your hotel is seen on the internet. Depending on the location of the hotel, an advertising campaign may be needed as well.

Follow these tips and you’re sure to make it through the process not only easier, but find it easier to sell rooms to more people at a higher rate. Congrats on your new-look hotel!

What tips would you add to ease the renovation process and find higher success once it’s complete? Let me know with an email me at mailto:[email protected] or on Twitter and Instagram @TravelingGlenn and share your opinions with me.

Glenn Haussman is editor-at-large for HOTEL MANAGEMENT. His views expressed are not necessarily those of HOTEL MANAGEMENT, its parent company Questex Media Group, and/or its subsidiaries.

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