Insights from contractors who have been there before
When it is time to refurbish a hotel good planning and employing the knowledge of a reputable hotel refurbishment contractor is essential. As a commercial flooring contractor and supplier (we are in the unbiased position of NOT being a complete hotel and hospitality refurbishment company), we feel we are in a position to offer independent opinion, having worked on hotel projects in collaboration with other specialist refurbishment companies.
Our experience supplying and fitting flooring in high profile hotels has proven to us the importance of good planning.
Cutting corners – Don’t fall into the false-economy trap
Choosing to work with an experienced refurbishment contractor who understands the sector, the market you wish to serve and experience you wish to create can make the entire process less stressful and ensure quality work is finished on time.
Who is overseeing and carrying out the work?
Experienced refurbishment companies are likely to only work with a sub-contractor whose work they know very well and regard as being ‘one of their own’. This affords them some flexibility but they will only work with companies who take the work as seriously as they do – giving them the ability to draw on very specialist skills such as intricate carpentry or highly decorative flooring services.
Give yourself the necessary number of months to get everything right prior to your target date for building work to commence. This will allow you time to evaluate potential architects and designers, refurbishment companies, suppliers and contractors. It also means you have allowed time for surveys, planning permission, consent for listed buildings etc.
Calculate based on experience when your quietest period is and aim for most of the work to be completed during this period of lowest occupancy rates. This can make a large difference to the financial impact of such work.
Factor in any ad-hoc events in the area that could make a difference to occupancy rates. Closing and refurbishing when the Commonwealth Games, large business exhibition or major theatre run is being held around the corner could leave you seriously out of pocket.
Know what you are paying, know your progress
Be engaged and involved. You are paying for an expert and that should give you some comfort but an iterative approach can lead to features and benefits for your guests that were not originally considered.
Likewise any unforeseen structural challenges will probably want need to be discussed between yourself and project manager. Of course, these should be at a minimum due to the aforementioned good planning, but nevertheless they can happen, especially if things are uncovered in old buildings which were not foreseeable or subject to initial survey.
An in-depth breakdown of costings and building timeframes should also be available from the start so you can see where you are against projected progress.
Timely payments benefit everyone
Ensure that you agree a payment plan both you and the refurbishment company are comfortable with and stick to it. This could be fortnightly or monthly releases of funds and makes for a confident and successful working relationship.
If the company you work with can trust and rely on you to pay on time the likelihood is that you will end up with the best possible service and finish – as precious time and concentration is not occupied discussing other financial matters. Besides, as highly experienced and professional as they are likely to be, the people you are working with are human – we all produce our best work for people who treat us with respect and value our input.
A negotiated retention fee can give you additional peace of mind when the building work is completed – so any defects in electrical or other pre-agreed defects can be acted on by the contractor.
Get the right people involved
Staff who work in the hotel on a day to day basis will have experienced things that you as an owner/operator might not have. Getting management, housekeeping and other personnel involved at an early planning stage may lead to some extremely valuable insights and practical suggestions.
It is easy to set up a secure online suggestion box that will enable employees to submit suggestions from smartphones or desktops as they go about their work. A reward and recognition scheme for any ideas implemented can also really bpost staff morale at the same time.
There are a number of such tools available online which offer a free trial period such as https://www.getvetter.com/ Others are apps that can be combined with a collaboration tool like Slack, https://www.aventr.com/happster/slack a suggestion made by one colleague can be voted up or down and commented on/improved on by those who work with them – so you can gauge other valued staff members opinions too.
Longevity and return on investment
Fashions come and go and so an ethos or underlying feel to the hotels decor is important, but fads can be costly. Working with contractors who understand that you may wish to improve certain aspects of the hotel cosmetically over the coming years – such as wall coverings and flooring – rather than raise finance for an entire refurbishment is important and can be planned for.
For example, we have fitted flooring before with a high quality finish that is perfect for the current look and feel required. Nevertheless the installation has been carried out in such a way that the floor covering can be lifted at low cost in coming years, whilst the original floor underneath is left undamaged and perfectly usable – should a change of heart (or ownership) occur.