Top 10 Lessons Learned from Successful Hotel Developments

January 27, 2021

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1. Analyze the market

• Know what your market is and establish a solid program

• Hire a feasibility consultant familiar with your market and locale

• Invest in your own research and combine it with a strong vision based on facts

• Make initial contact with hotel operators that you might want for the development to find out their interest in the location and which of their brands they suggest

2. Create a realistic timeframe

• Hotel projects are complex and demand additional time for coordination of the various disciplines involved

• Allow strategic buffer zones for unexpected delays

• Do your due diligence to strengthen your timeframe

3. Establish a balanced budget

• Thorough planning and coordination at the beginning with the right team is only a small fraction of the overall development cost and will avoid costly shortcomings later on

• Understand the scope of work in consultants’ proposals: most consultants have very similar fee structures and less expensive fees typically mean that less scope was included

4. Have multiple finance strategies

• Establish finance options in case one option is no longer available

• Think of a plan ‘B’ for the unforeseen to be not completely caught off-guard when it happens

5. Scrutinize the entitlement process

• Do your due diligence of what will be required by government and local customs, how you will get the approvals and how long the process will take

• Have a plan to get key decision makers on board with your ideas and how they will support your development

6. Be vigilant of the particularities of the site

• Check potential limiting factors and their consequences: soil conditions, archaeological considerations, environmental requirements

• Use the special features of the site to your advantage for planning and design. Hotels benefit from integrating special features of the site for authentic experiences for the guest

7. Assemble a well-working team

• Engage key team members from the early beginning

• Consider individual consultants for the major disciplines with expertise in hospitality

• Choose consultants based on who fits best for your specific project. Big brand names do not design your project but individual people do. Make sure you know who will be your constant contact for any questions and what their dedication and availability for your project are

8. Embrace strong, suitable design

Impressive does not mean successful. The design needs to be based on the guest experience and the environment hotel employees want to work in. Create a storyline with your design team that will weave like a red line through your project and will be read by your future guests as a unique and memorable experience that also the employees can identify with

• Start with multiple design options and ‘test’ the site with different ideas; narrow the best options down to a strong direction that addresses your identified market, timeframe, budget and characteristics of the project

9. Focus on holistic sustainability

• Sustainable projects not only mean that the building and its operation are sustainable but that they are fully integrated in the location where they are built. Lasting projects include the neighborhood and reflect local “traditions” which will in return bring the support of the local community for the development.

Give back to the local community and the planet as it will not only create a higher acceptance of your development, it will also attract a high number of future guests that are choosing a hotel based on this principle

10. Make decisions through a logical thought process

• It is important to remember why you made certain decisions. The complexity of hotel developments requires a strong direction with constant adjustments. The team can easily get off-track when small details take over and the reasons for previous decisions are not remembered and get lost.

Indecisiveness and dragging decisions out to the last minute can quickly extend timeframes unnecessarily while team members are spinning their wheels waiting to move forward with an agreed direction.

• Each phase has its appropriate scale. Staying within the magnitude of details required for a phase that need to be decided will keep the right focus. Zooming in too far at an inappropriate stage will divert the team from the really important questions.

FSC Architects is an international resort design firm focused on creating bespoke authentic guest experiences they believe most memorable for enriching life. They specialize in hotel architecture, resort design, resort master planning, integrated resorts, boutique resorts, mixed-use and residential projects that require their excellent place-making skills and transcendent adaptation of culture, climate, place and natural environment.