Later this afternoon I’ll once again have the honor of participating as an expert panelist at one of the most anticipated events on the hospitality industry’s event calendar – The Lodging Conference 2016.  This year marks my 13th consecutive year attending the event, and my third year as a speaker and panelist at the conference.  Given AXIS’ notability as one of America’s most active hotel renovation architectural firms, it wasn’t entirely surprising to discover that I had been invited to participate in the “Reposition Your Hotel for Success” panel (session T-9 in the program, scheduled for Thursday, September 27 at 1:45 pm).  To quote the session abstract: “Take a fresh look at your hotel as experts help you re-evaluate a property’s position and implement the most productive and cost effective changes.”  Given the number of hotel repositioning projects in AXIS’ portfolio, particularly our recent delivery of the updated Aloft El Segundo (renovating that property from a sprawling several-hundred-room full service hotel into its new select service profile), and San Francisco’s Axiom Hotel (renovating a 110 year old boarding hotel into a chic and modern boutique property), I couldn’t have hoped for a more fitting topic to address.

Russell C. Savrann, Partner at Sandman Savrann PLLC, will moderate the panel.  I recently had the opportunity to get to know Russel earlier this year at Sandman Savrann’s Powder Summit, an intimate and fun hospitality networking event annually hosted by Russel’s firm on Vail’s powder slopes.  Having an appreciation for Russel’s and Sandman Savrann’s reputation for advising hotel developers and investors in financing, franchising, and labor relations matters, Russel’s moderating of the “Reposition Your Hotel for Success” panel is sure to pack the session with actionable insight.

In the lead-up to the conference I started to think about what sorts of discussion would be the most valuable for someone attending the session.  Given all of the hotel repositioning projects AXIS has been able to advise clients on, what were some of the most valuable lessons learned in our experience?  What were the questions that builders, developers, owners, and operators should ask to ensure the right properties are selected for repositioning, and following that, what were the questions they should ask to ensure a repositioning project has the best chance of success?  With that in mind, and for our On The AXIS blog readers attending the “Reposition Your Hotel for Success” session, here’s my short-list of questions most commonly asked by AXIS’ hotel repositioning clients, and as such, my prediction for the themes we’ll discuss at today’s Lodging Conference panel:

Beforehand – Identifying the most successful hotel repositioning candidates

  1. When looking at a property, what are the key factors that indicate if a hotel is a prime candidate for repositioning?
  2. What factors in the external local marketplace affect a repositioning project?
  3. Are recently renovated hotels better candidates for repositioning?
  4. Is an older hotel that is in obvious need of renovation a better candidate for repositioning as opposed to a newer hotel?
  5. Does an adaptive re-use project – taking a property formerly used for a different purpose and repositioning it – automatically disqualify a property as a potential repositioning candidate?
  6. When are brand refresh and brand update projects a better idea than repositioning projects?
  7. On a cost per room basis, where is the breakpoint where there’s likely to be a net positive increase in resale value? In RevPar?
  8. What’s a reasonable amount of time to pass to expect to profit from a hotel repositioning project?
  9. What profile of hotel – budget, select service, full service, or luxury – make the most successful hotel repositioning projects?

During the reposition – Ensuring a hotel repositioning project is a success

  1. How do you ensure the new brand is successfully communicated to the guest?
  2. From a guest experience perspective, what are the most important elements to renovate and refresh?
  3. From a cost efficiency point of view, what are the elements of a repositioning (i.e. finishes, case goods, etc.) that deliver the most impact for the lowest cost in a repositioning?
  4. Energy is 6% of the average cost per room; are guests responding by booking hotels that position themselves as energy efficient destinations? Should a hotel repositioning project make energy efficiency a key focus?
  5. When it comes to applying hotel brand standards, are soft brands easier to reposition given the suggestion soft brands are more flexible with their standards?

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