Hotel development and renovation experts weigh in on the traits that separate truly great project managers from the rest of the pack.
REPORT FROM THE U.S.—Hotel News Now asked executives from hotel construction companies, ownership companies, management companies and more to share what they think sets great project managers apart.
“A good project manager is one who has passion for what they do. They understand the trades, but also the value of human capital. You almost have to have a psychology degree to deal with anyone in the business world today, to try to understand what the objective is and how you lead to where you’re going.”
—Bill Wilhelm, president, R.D. Olson Construction
“The No. 1 thing is responsiveness. Nothing goes the way it’s supposed to, especially on renovations. They’re just organized chaos, but if your PM is responsive to keeping everybody up to date with what’s going on, it’s going to make everybody a lot happier and make things go a lot smoother.”
—Mark LeBlanc, EVP of development and acquisitions, Interstate Hotels & Resorts
“You need to have people who understand a lot more phases of the project; someone who doesn’t just do what they do, but also understands what comes before and after them. Understanding even just the bare bones of how technology infrastructure incorporates into the building is hugely beneficial. I’m looking for backgrounds in interior design, IT and general real estate. I don’t look for construction management degrees.”
—Mike Zimmerman, VP of development, The Olympia Companies
“You’ve got to have somebody who really understands the business. I don’t want somebody who’s never done this before, and they start constructing or beating on things in the rooms at 6 a.m. and waking up my guests. You need to have someone who’s sensitive and understands that you’re in an operating hotel, and they know what they can do to minimize the poor guest experience.”
—Rick Takach, chairman and CEO, Vesta Hospitality
“The most important attribute is a positive attitude. Unlike any other sector, you are trying to service many, many masters in hospitality. As a project manager, you’re engaged by the owner of the asset, but you have to execute in conjunction with many other people, such as an asset manager, an operator, designers, architects, interior designers and ownership groups, who all bring different objectives to the table.”
—Dermot Ryan, managing director, Hospitality, MGAC
“You need to make sure your PM understands the brand’s requirements. The relationship with the brand is important. The project manager should know the different design teams or design players in the brand, which helps quite a bit. It makes the approval process a lot easier, too.”
—Stephen Siegel, principal, H-CPM
“Other than day-to-day tasks, the biggest thing a PM can do is help share, or go above the call of duty, and look at the owner’s vision and help steer the project correctly, because it has to start with that. With a lot of employees, they only do what they’re being asked to do, or what they’re tasked with. Nobody looks big picture. So from a project manager standpoint, I think it’s important to not only see the fine details of your day-to-day job, but also the big picture. Otherwise, your project’s going to run into chaos, quickly.”
—Winston Kong, partner, Champalimaud Design