Hotel renovation experts share their insights on property-improvement plans and offer some advice on how to make them more palatable.
REPORT FROM THE U.S.—The key to branded hotel renovation projects is the property-improvement plan, which lists upgrades for a hotel to maintain market share and keep up with brand standards. Since this process can be a moving target, Hotel News Now asked renovation pros to share their insights on PIPs in 2018.
1. Don’t expect much leeway
There has never been a less negotiable PIP environment than right now, according to Bjorn Hanson, clinical professor at the New York University Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism. What’s worse, many of the newer brand standards are hard for owners to understand, he said.
“Some of the PIPs may have more to do with differentiation among brands than some obvious benefit to the owner or guests,” Hanson said.
2. Keep an eye on your budget
When reviewing a PIP, owners must fully understand the scope of the work to establish a reasonable budget, experts said. If the process appears too expensive or complicated, it may be necessary to negotiate the PIP and get clarity from the brand on what is acceptable, they said.
“You need to spend the time and effort prior to the execution of the PIP to understand where the brand’s intent is and make sure it fits within your budget,” said Dermot Ryan, managing director of hospitality at MGAC. “If it doesn’t, negotiate the PIP so it does work for you.”
3. Use the right people
Stephen Siegel, principal at H-CPM, suggests hiring professionals who are knowledgeable about the hospitality industry and specific requirements of the brand.
“Don’t get your uncle or aunt to be the interior designer, and don’t use your contractor brother-in-law to do the work,” he said.
4. Dig for good research
Many of the new, trendy additions to brand PIPs are driven by market research, but that research may make some questionable conclusions about the wants and needs of travelers, sources said. This is especially true with the recent surge in millennial-focused branding, they said.
“Research about millennials is plentiful, but the understanding of it is less plentiful,” Hanson said. “Millennials are not of one mind as a generation, nor even of one mind for a day. There can be different interests and desires at different times of the day involved in different activities.”
5. Go above and beyond
Some owners and developers believe the PIP is just the skeleton of the renovation process, and to truly capture market share requires maximizing every stage of the lodging experience.
“Rethinking these pool areas, for example, can be a great experience if you just put a little more thought into it,” said Mark LeBlanc, EVP of development and acquisitions at Interstate Hotels & Resorts. “It doesn’t have to be an obligatory, boring pool. Or if the brand’s requiring 49- or 59-inch TVs, maybe go 65 inches. Those aren’t huge expenses.”