Two of M&R Hotel Management’s New York City airport hotels are currently undergoing very different renovations. Our Holiday Inn Express LaGuardia Airport is in the midst of ground-up construction that will add 36 new guest rooms and expanded public space, while the Best Western JFK Airport is undergoing a more modest upgrade that will add new soft goods to guest rooms and create a brighter, more contemporary look to the lobby and breakfast area.
Yet as work proceeds on both projects, one concern remains top-of-mind: with both hotels remaining open, how do we ensure that guests aren’t inconvenienced, no less disturbed by noise or construction debris? And in the case of the LaGuardia property, our concern extends beyond our guests to our neighbors in that the new wing is being built in shouting distance of people’s homes.
Once plans for the projects were finalized, managers at the Holiday Inn Express sat down with their construction team, while managers at the Best Western met with their interior design team, to discuss scheduling. Work wouldn’t begin each day until guests were up, having breakfast or had already checked out to catch their flight or left the hotel for their first business appointment. Similarly, work would stop in the afternoon with time to spare before guests started returning.
To minimize any disruption, hotels undergoing renovations will go so far as to create a temporary wall to mask construction noise and contain dust and other debris. When one floor of rooms is being renovated, it’s possible to leave rooms on the floor below vacant, thereby creating an additional buffer zone.
Most important perhaps are the proactive steps you take to communicate the situation with your guests. Let them know—through easel signs in the lobby, a letter from the general manager on check-in, posters in the elevator and so on—the nature of the work, how long they can expect it to continue, the steps being taken to prevent any inconvenience and, of course, how much better the guest experience will be once the upgrades are completed.
By being transparent, you’ll find—much to your surprise—that guests buy in to the project. Not only don’t they push back, you just may find they’ve become your biggest supporters.