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How to renovate your hotel and why this is key in 2022

As time marches on, an older hotel can easily fade. Its appearance can become dated and its paint a victim to wear and tear. The tired carpeting in the hallways may have been walked on a few too many times and the room decor hasn’t budged in decades. At some point, age starts to show in every hotel.

While renovating a hotel can be costly, so is doing nothing. Older hotels that haven’t been renovated in more than ten years have to significantly cut rates just to compete with modernised nearby properties. Additionally, the longer a hotelier waits to refurbish, the costlier it will be.

"With the current increase in material and labour cost, hoteliers are looking at around a 35% increase in total spend compared to a couple of years ago."

In order for a hotel to effectively compete in today’s market, it has to be trendy and have that “wow”-factor. An investment in the right renovations can elevate a two-star hotel up to a four-star property that attracts guests willing to pay market rates and above for available rooms.  

What really is hotel renovation?

At present, we are noticing an increasing number of hotels renovating in order to attract guests – is this necessary or is there a quick remedy? Nowadays, hotel renovation does not only mean replacing worn-out furniture and mattresses, but changing the definition of competition in the hotel industry. A hotel needs to be up-to-standard, fresh, technologically-aligned and able to cater to the latest generation of guests. 

According to hoteliers, there are three basic cycles in a hotel’s life: refurbishment, basic renovation and complete renovation:

Refurbishment: A refurbishment or redecoration of soft goods, equipment, fixtures and furniture, which can occur on a three-year to six-year cycle. 
Basic Renovation: A basic renovation is more extensive than a refurbishment. It can mean upgrading features and systems to enhance experience.
Complete Renovation: This tends to take place every 25 to 50 years and includes major reconstruction: remodelling the whole hotel for a new set of customers and trends.

Why give your hotel a facelift?

There’s no better time than now to give your hotel the renovation it deserves, but why should you go out of your way to do it?

  • Take advantage of high demand: If you have low vacancy rates and sell out every night, you may want to expand your property to accommodate more guests. This may cause you to move up your basic or complete renovation cycle.
  • Shiny new competition: If a new competitor hotel opens near you, you might experience a vacancy rate increase. One reason for this may be that the new hotel is significantly more modernised than yours. Get on their level.
  • Going “green”: Factors like high utility costs and inefficient design can be corrected with a basic renovation. Being “green” is a huge trend within the current market place, and an effective one! It leads towards an environmentally-friendly hotel that is ecologically responsible, and a great selling point too. Replacing energy-guzzling amenities with environmentally-friendly alternatives should definitely be a part of a renovation agenda.
  • Joining the digital age: Installing integrated hotel software, mobile check-in kiosks and expanding digital experience in rooms must be at the forefront of the next generation of hotels.

    "Millennial and Gen-Z clients expect digital touches in the hotel they choose to stay in, and going forward with digitalisation should be a major part of any renovation plan."

How to renovate your hotel

The main question that any hotel owner needs to ask is ‘are we going to renovate or reinvent?’. You must think about each change that needs to be made to improve guest experience, and then think about how. The first area you want to renovate is the bedrooms, because they are the core of the guest journey and your profit centre on any type of hotel.

After that, it’s time for the lobby. The lobby is the first impression, and that matters! Lobbies are the first thing guests will really notice and remember when they check in, so it needs to be fresh and welcoming.

"Importantly, you mustn’t forget to create a cohesion between the various areas of your hotel. "

Renovation should focus on more than just the hotel’s aesthetic. It also requires a careful assessment of the overall guest experience. This may uncover functional problems with your hotel’s operation and design that you need to address. Your initial study should evaluate all aspects of your hotel’s operations, including staffing and ease of service.

"During the planning stage, it is best to involve your staff, as well to get their opinions on solving functional aspects."

Planning the concept

Once you understand your current situation, it’s time to specify your renovation concept, because  good renovation can distinguish a property from its competitors. It should include your requirements for new facilities and opportunities to increase revenues.

Below details each area of the hotel that is important when considering hotel renovation:

Guest rooms

Renovating guest rooms is a smart way to increase revenue per room and occupancy. From the moment the guest walks through the door, the room needs to resonate with a “wow”-factor.

"This is the one area of the hotel where hoteliers should pay careful attention to the details."

The guest rooms should not only be functional, but comfortable and secure with a just-like-home feeling.

Guest rooms should also include modern bathrooms, luxurious pillows, quality beds and mattresses, a HD television display and Wi-Fi. Power sockets in the right positions is something that needs planning.

Hotel exterior

Since the exterior of a hotel is the first thing a guest will experience when they arrive at the property, it is one of the most important renovations a hotelier can make. Renovating the hotel grounds should include custom landscaping with well-manicured lawns, trees, shrubs and colourful flowers that create a warm, inviting environment. In addition, renovating parking areas and walkways, installing LED exterior lighting and modern signage and windows will also serve to enhance the guest experience.

Lobby and common areas

Once a guest arrives at a hotel, they will enter the lobby to check-in and make a mental note of their surroundings. This is often the point where a guest will decide whether or not they like what they see. When renovating the lobby and common areas, it should all feel inviting. There should be generous multi-purpose open spaces, which use natural lighting and materials, with coordinated walls and flooring. There should be plenty of comfortable seating, well-appointed furnishings and artwork that highlights the local area.

Restaurant and bar

Unfortunately for many hotels, a restaurant and bar is a cost centre rather than a revenue generator. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. With a smart and appealing renovation, a hotel restaurant and bar not only serves as an attractive dining and entertainment spot for guests, but it will also attract patrons from the local community. Having a modern look is the key to quickly turning around any under-performing hotel restaurant and bar, along with having an adequate amount of seating.
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