Hotel Business Executive Roundtable Series
I came in this morning to Hotel Business magazine July 15, 2013 issue and I read the Executive Roundtable Series on New Construction vs. Conversions. The article was very centric about how financially right now it seems to be more cost effective to purchase and rebrand hotels versus building new hotels. What I found disturbing as a hotel designer and purchasing agent is that the article lent little importance to design and product selection and purchasing. It did however have one comment that stuck with me …..”there’s a fine line between what addresses the needs of your customers today and what addresses the needs of an egotistical designer…”
I wrote an article recently that addresses this same issue very specifically. Large flag companies make the “standards” so expensive and so cumbersome, that it ties the hands of the hotel owners in such a way that it makes completing a PIP insurmountable. This is very unfortunate. Good design can be done at many price points. There are firms such as mine, Alternate Resources, which believes every project should be driven to find the best aesthetic for the least cost. I run a small business, I understand that projects can be cost prohibitive. I want to work with the hotel owners, I want to find the way to make the hotel stunningly beautiful and then I want to knock myself out to find vendors that can make what I want less expensively or value engineered. There are so many ways to be creative.
I still believe hotel companies should set the idea in place of what they want and then allow more freedom of design at better price points. On the other hand, I have been in many properties, in the olden days, when managers were allowed to cut corners, or have a family member do the “design” and that was a disaster. The hotel chains suffered by lowering their standards. But there is an answer…standards in quality or specification….not necessarily cookie cutter requirements. The costs to renovate a property are staggering, the designs have to last, and clients have to be satisfied.
There are many talented designers and purchasing companies out there. My company happens to be one in the same, only because I think I can do it better by getting to know the client and the needs better. I can save more money if I follow it through, more than if I turn it over to someone else.
This roundtable has many smart, capable people on it, but I don’t think you can decide the best route for rebranding a hotel and renovating unless designers (good and talented and cost conscious ones) are involved in the discussion! It is surprising what can happen with creativity when it is driven by price before aesthetic. I have never met an owner who is not driven by cost and cost first. I have met many designers who only want to make their mark, and have not run a business. As they say….it takes two to tango (at least to tango well)!