5 questions for GS Associates' Brenda Wheatley

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The Hotec Global conference will be held online on Nov. 9-10.(HOTEC Operations)

Ahead of the upcoming Hotec Global conference, sponsored by Questex Hospitality (parent company of Hotel Management), several industry insiders will be sharing their insights on how the hotel sector is adjusting to new normals. Brenda Wheatley, senior project director at procurement firm GS Associates, talked about luxury development, remote working and how to adjust in a crisis.

How has your segment of the industry changed since March? 

We are involved in various segments including hospitality ... senior living and timeshare segments. We have seen that hospitality is a mixed bag with the luxury segment moving forward for resorts and business hotels pausing to get a better understanding of COVID-19 control. 

New projects have been awarded to us at the luxury level for some renovations and reflags positioning openings for post COVID-19. The majority of projects that moved forward had some speed bumps with the opening and closing of construction sites.   

What are some trends you have seen in recent months? Do you think these trends will last? How are you adjusting to those trends? 

Remote working has quickly moved to a norm and we do anticipate a paradigm shift with rethink on central office attendance and more web collaborative meetings. We also see the obvious of the priority in hygienic practices in all aspects of hospitality, work, travel and meeting space that will continue to impact design and implementation. We have had to become knowledgeable in many aspects of maximizing disinfectant materials and means to help our clients promote a safe guest stay.   

How has your businesses adapted to the new normal? 

GS was adept at remote working prior to COVID and with web meetings we have adjusted to a nearly full-time remoteness and having become nearly paperless in the process. With main offices in Massachusetts and satellite offices in India, Saudi Arabia, Canada and the West Coast of the U.S., we have sharpened our web contact and collaboration with our own team, clients and project team members. We are still trying to figure out model room reviews and site visits considering the challenges and risks with travel.    

Have you used this time to develop new strategies for the future? If so, what have you developed? 

We have been in development of a new web based, collaborative software and have used this time and a new vision of the future to become proficient (and paperless). We have taken this time to reimagine the entire project and procurement process to develop this exciting technology.  

What are some ways technology is helping you through this crisis?   

We were quite fortunate to have remote processes and technology in place before the crisis. Our office has stayed connected utilizing Teams for meetings and planning, share file for access to project files and downloads directly into our web-based procurement software for work. All of this is accessible when internet is available. Teams, Zoom and other conferencing software has also assisted our team to maintain a healthy social connection during these challenging times.