It was almost midnight as everyone raised yet another toast to the successful completion of the project. Celebrations were in full swing. The renovation had been completed ahead of the scheduled re-opening date, giving the General Manager an additional two months of opportunity to welcome the guests. The before-time opening of the hotel ensured additional profit, savings on project staff payroll and freeing up manpower for the next assignment. This is the story of a luxury business hotel in downtown Mumbai when a major renovation was completed in 16 months including the design, tendering and execution.

Meticulous planning at every stage of a project can ensure cost control and efficiency. This is especially important in a renovation when an already revenue-generating hotel must shut its doors in order to re-open to provide a better experience. Every single day’s delay in the opening of a hotel is a loss of potential revenue making opportunities.

Let us look at some ways to bring efficiency in the whole process of planning and execution of a hotel project:

  1. Provide a crystal clear brief to the designer about the brand standards and budgets to avoid value engineering as much as possible. Should any value engineering be necessary, it should be carried out at the start of the project rather than at the end. Re-considering a design or a material at the eleventh hour derails the schedule.
  2. Avoid making changes after a design has been finalized. Revisions and afterthoughts in design often cause delays and demoralise the project execution team.
  3. Make a mock-up room early on in the project in order to finalize and testify all design and MEP elements. This will ensure that there are no surprises related to budgets, detailing and functionality at a more crucial stage. Guestrooms constitute a significant proportion of work involved in the whole project. Getting them right early on is extremely important for the health of a project.
  4. Architects and designers are busier than ever. Discuss your schedule in detail before engaging a designer otherwise he/she may take longer to complete the assigned tasks. At Oberoi Hotels, we have long been following a policy of not engaging overly busy consultants in the interest of the project.
  5. Chart out a clear roadmap along with dates for all stages of project planning and ensure that all stakeholders stick to the agreed dates and timelines.
  6. Ensure that all consultants are on board ahead of time. There are numerous examples where getting a particular consultant on board at a relatively later stage has caused delays. For example, getting an acoustic consultant when the execution has started may make him suggest changes in the implementation process or material specifications, ending up wasting precious time and money.
  7. Be mindful of the delays caused by fee negotiations and contract finalisation. It can take months at times to finalise the fine print of the contract from a technical and legal standpoint.
  8. Resource management is an important aspect of completing a project within the stipulated time frame. Manpower shortage, be it in the design or execution teams, can cause delays.
  9. Civil works are usually the quickest in any project as there is only one agency at work leaving little need for coordination. The key lies in completing the MEP works flawlessly. Delays usually happen during the MEP or finishing stages. The battle is half won if the MEP works are completed within the stipulated timeframe.
  10. Don’t fall into the trap of starting execution on all fronts. BOH & MEP areas take far less time to complete than public areas and guestrooms. Employ your resources wisely and put more focus on the zones which take the longest to complete.
  11. Going pre-fab is another key aspect to save time. Make use of the technological advancements to use pre-fabricated elements and construct as many elements off-site as possible. This not only ensures a better speed but also ensures quality.
  12. Don’t sweat over parallel activities but be extra cautious about the sequential activities. Derailment of any such activity has a cascading effect and is extremely difficult to recover from such a situation.
  13. All purchase orders should be in place well in advance to ensure timely delivery of items. Be extra cautious of the long lead imported items. Purchase teams generally take a lot of time to negotiate and to complete the paperwork. Ensure ‘full kitting’ prior to the start of a project. It is advisable to give an extra few weeks to the purchasing team to exploit their negotiation skills in order to save substantial cost for the investors.

In endeavouring to fast track a project, quality should never be overlooked. Completing a project within the scheduled timeline and budget while at the same time achieving top-notch quality to create value for the investors is the ultimate triumph.

About Himank Goswami

Himank Goswami is an architect & luxury hospitality design professional and is presently associated with Emaar Hospitality Group, Dubai. Himank leads the group’s part portfolio of luxury and boutique hotels worldwide. Emaar Hospitality Group is a wholly owned subsidiary of Emaar Properties, a global property developer with a market cap of US$ 14.6 billion and revenue of US$ 4.32 billion. Previously, he spent 10 years with Oberoi Hotels & Resorts and lead the award-winning chain’s global part portfolio of luxury hotels. Himank has been actively writing and speaking on hospitality design matters. He can be reached at himank.goswami@yahoo.com.