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WASHINGTON (July 29, 2020)As Congress debates a new round of COVID-19 recovery legislation, a new survey of American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) members shows that the pandemic continues to have a devastating effect on the hotel industry and its employees. Results show nearly nine in ten hotels have been forced to lay off or furlough employees due to COVID-19 and the resulting drop in travel. Four months into the crisis, only 37 percent of survey respondents report that they have been able to bring back at least half their full-time employees.

To raise awareness for hotel industry priorities, AHLA is declaring Wednesday, July 29 “Save Hotel Jobs,” a National Day of Action for hoteliers across the country to urge lawmakers to swiftly pass additional stimulus relief.  Among hotel owner respondents, more than half are in danger of foreclosure by commercial real estate lenders.

AHLA conducted the survey of hotel industry owners, operators, and employees from July 23-27, 2020, with more than 1,200 respondents. Key findings include the following:

  • 87% of hotels report being forced to lay off or furlough staff because of COVID-19
  • 36% have been unable to bring ANY of their furloughed or laid off workers back to full-time employment
  • Just 37% of hotels have been able to bring back at least half their full-time employees
  • Only one in four hotels (24%) is back to a minimum of 60% of their pre-COVID staffing levels, while less than one in three (29%) is still at or below 20% staffing
  • Of the more than 600 hotel owner respondents, more than half stated that are in danger of losing their property to foreclosure by commercial real estate lenders due to COVID-19

“It’s hard to overstate just how devastating the pandemic has been for the hotel industry. We have never seen a crisis of this magnitude,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association. “We are encouraged to see many of AHLA’s industry priorities included in the Senate package released this week. We urge Congress to direct help to the industries and employees that need it the most, and to move swiftly to support them.”

Rogers urged hoteliers to immediately contact the offices of Members of Congress with calls, letters, and social media posts to ensure the industry’s top priorities are included in the next relief package passed by Congress. The most pressing concerns for the industry right now include access to increased liquidity, tax relief, and limited liability protection.

“It is critical that Congress hear directly from hoteliers so that you get the help you need,” said Rogers. “Hotels have a presence in every congressional district in America, building strong local economies and supporting millions of jobs. Every Member of Congress needs to hear from us about the urgent need for additional support so that we can keep our doors open and bring back our employees.”

Hoteliers can visit www.ahla.com/hotelsact to connect to their elected officials.

 
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PLAINFIELD, IL, JULY 16, 2020 - Renovating a hotel can be a daunting task, one fraught with financial risks. However, by carefully determining the Scope of Work, the sticky issues that might derail a renovation project can be addressed effectively and strategically before the first day of construction.

First
off, what is a scope of work? A scope of work is a detailed document explaining exactly what is expected of a team completing a construction contract. It contains information that gives direction and purpose to every facet of a renovation—information hotel owners and contractors need to budget accurately. It will be referenced constantly for details concerning any and all parts of a project, from milestones to payment schedules, to unique requirements. Because of the valuable information in the scope, it is extremely important that it be created with the intent of being as accurate, crystal clear and thorough as it can be.

HOTEL RENOVATION SCOPE
If the hotel is flagged, the brand partner will provide a corporate-specific set of renovation guidelines, referre
d to as a Property Improvement Plan (PIP). A PIP and a scope of work are not the same thing. No matter how complete, PIP guidelines do not provide everything required for an accurate scope of work. PIPs give owners many variables and the leeway to negotiate things like finishes, surface materials and other elements on the basis of value engineering, as well as the renovation's timelines, methods of execution, division of responsibilities, and reporting and payment schedules. In short, a PIP only outlines expected outcomes. It doesn't provide the elements that must come together to get to those desired outcomes. That is the job of the scope.

On the
other hand, if the hotel is independent, the designer will have greater freedom with the scope but may come under pressure from the owner to make alterations during construction both minor and major, a phenomenon sometimes referred to as "scope creep". Changing the vision midway can result in serious cost overruns and time delays that the hotel can ill afford, whether branded or independent. 

SURPRISE, SURPRISE!
"In a poorly defined scope of work, there are always surprises. Most of these surprises could have been eliminated, or at least better managed, if the scope of work took them into account," explained Sam Cicero, Jr., president of Cicero's Development Corp., a General Contractor specializing in hospitality renovations. "For that reason, it is recommended that the owner do a complete survey of the property in the early stages of pre-construction, recruiting the help of third-party engineers or a general contractor. The survey will identify any problems and quantify the costs to fix them."

Cicero said that analysis of the survey will uncover aspects of the project that require special considerations or instructions that must be incorporated into the scope of work, so that costly, last minute change orders are not needed in the field. Surveys are especially important if the property is an older building that needs to be brought up to current standards. 

AVOIDING DELAYS
Every well-planned scope of work includes an accurate timeline for construction and deliveries. When you have an obligation to honor existing reservations, you cannot afford to have delays. In establishing a timeline, the hotel owner must decide whether the hotel will close down so that all renovation work can be completed as quickly as possible... or if the renovation work will be phased in on a floor-by-floor basis while the hotel stays in operation to maintain cash flow. This is a delicate balancing act: the longer a room is out of service, the more it costs the hotel’s bottom line.

"If the choise is to keep the hotel open the selection of a General Contractor takes on special importance," notes Cicero. "Only a GC with extensive experience in hotel renovations will know how to work without interrupting business, maintaining safety and cleanliness, and most importantly, not annoy guests with undue noise and inconveniences."

CREATING A SCOPE OF WORK
Below is a suggested if not simplified path towards avoiding the uncertainty, confusion, delays, and cost overruns notoriously produced by improperly defined or insufficient project scopes.

Start with a Workshop
Begin the process by getting the key sponsors and team members together by running a one-day workshop. Together, the attendees can identify what the requirements of the renovation are and what the ideal solution looks like. A workshop makes it much easier to set an over-aching vision for the renovation so that all stakeholders have a clear direction going forward in creating the scope of work.

First Draft
Following the workshop, develop a first draft of the scope of work with a generic schedule that must be adhered to. In your schedule, include all high-level activities as well as any key tasks that are critical to success. Then add due dates to the activities and tasks so that you know roughly what must be completed and when. This is a high level roadmap, not a detailed project scope.

Deliverables
Break down what was agreed upon in the workshop into discrete deliverables based on the theory that when all of the deliverables have been produced, your renovation will be complete. Having well defined deliverables will help you manage the scope of the project, as well as introduce change control along the way.

Resources and Budget
Next, identify the resources and budget needed to produce the identified deliverables. List the people, equipment and materials required. Once identified, add the costs of these resources to calculate the renovation "budget".

Reporting and Ownership
It's critical the status of the project is clearly communicated in a timely fashion once it kicks off, so describe in detail how that will be done. Will you have regular team meetings? Customer presentations and status reports manually? Will you rely on using an online system for your reporting needs? Finally, list the key criteria for the project so that everyone knows how success will be measured once every phase of the project is complete. An effective project manager should be named to respond to potential issues prior to construction – and carefully monitor the project as it moves forward – to ensure that it is completed according to the scope's specified quality, allocated resources, schedule, and budget.

Once the scope is defined, meet with stakeholders from the initial workshop to mutually agree on all details of the scope including addressing any existing conditions upfront. Now is the time to
 expand on details that will affect the execution of the contract. In a flagged hotel submit to the brand your scope, design documents, and other project initiatives. Procure brand approvals in advance of the renovation to help prevent wasted efforts and possible added expense. Neglecting to get agreements from all stakeholders can negatively impact the scope by placing undue pressure on manpower and resources, and add weeks or months to the schedule.

For more information, visit www.cicerosdev.com.

 
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Toronto, ON (July 6, 2020) – Choice Hotels Canada is thrilled to announce that one of its hotels, the Quality Inn & Suites Val d’Or has been named the 2020 International Quality Hotel of the Year by Choice Hotels International, based in Rockville, Maryland. This is the second time this hotel has been awarded this prestigious international distinction.

The hotel also received a 2020 Platinum Guest Satisfaction Award, given to Choice Hotels Canada properties in the top three per cent of its more than 330 hotels. This is the eighth consecutive year the hotel has been honoured with a Platinum Award, having been recognized each year since 2013. 

In 2014, the Quality Inn & Suites Val-d’Or was recognized not only as Canadian Hotel of the Year, but also the International Quality Hotel of the Year. In 2018, the hotel won the Canadian Hotel of the Year award again. The hotel has also been awarded six Canadian APEX awards, which recognize stellar performance, sales and revenue growth and ongoing commitment to guest service. In 2018, the hotel’s general manager, Alexandre Audet, was awarded Leader of the Year by Choice Hotels Canada. The award recognized outstanding leadership, with Audet’s focus on employee recognition leading to a reduction in the turnover rate and outstanding customer satisfaction ratings.

"Quality Inn & Suites Val-d’Or is undoubtably a stand-out star in our system and is frequently recognized for its excellence,” said Brian Leon, president, Choice Hotels Canada. “The ownership, general manager and hotel team has consistently gone above and beyond and their exceptional efforts have not gone unnoticed by guests.”

Choice’s Real Guest Reviews rank the property a 4.8 out of 5 and 98 per cent of guests would recommend the hotel. As of June 30, TripAdvisor ranks the property as number one of eight hotels in Val-d’Or, with an overall rating of 4.5 out of 5.

“We are delighted that our hard work and commitment to the guest experience has once again been recognized,” said Alexandre Audet, general manager of the Quality Inn & Suites Val-d’Or. “The collective efforts of our entire team enable us to provide every guest with a welcoming, comfortable stay. I am forever grateful for everything they do – day in and day out.”

The 82-room hotel is owned and managed by the Cree Regional Economic Entreprises Company (CREECO) of Eeyou Istchee and Trahan Holdings of Val-d’Or. For business travellers, the hotel boasts a full business centre with conference facilities. The hotel also operates a hot breakfast service that is free to guests.

Reservations at the Quality Inn & Suites Val-d’Or can be made by calling the hotel directly at (819) 874-8888 or by visiting www.choicehotels.com.

 
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July 3, 2020

Elite and young independent travelers are crucial to the recovery of the travel sector as they are likely to be the first tourists to embark on international travel, however according to a survey by GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, *35% of Gen Z and *48% of Gen Y are still extremely concerned about COVID-19.

Many travel and tourism influencers are drawn from this traveler group, and what they think of and write about in their travel experiences can be highly useful to travel marketing and so they will be indispensable for destination recovery if utilized effectively.

Johanna Bonhill-Smith, Travel & Tourism Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Amid the pandemic, consumer habits have changed and the importance of having an effective social media presence has been heightened. Destination Management Organizations (DMOs) should engage with influencers and operate across multi-channel platforms to ensure a stronger position for recovery.”

Rather than an induced image brought by a TV ad or campaign, an authentic perception of a destination brought on by another traveler will likely be more credible.

According to GlobalData’s Destination Influencer Dashboard, both VisitGreece and FailteIreland are two of the top ranking on the network. Both DMOs have utilized influencers in marketing campaigns in the past to captivate travelers’ interests bringing real-time engagement worldwide.

Bonhill-Smith continues: "DMOs should recognize the overriding power of an influencer to promote new activities, experiences or even to gain traction within a new market."

Twitter and YouTube have been the most widely used platforms for travel campaigning during COVID-19, but it is clear that platforms such as TikTok also have untapped marketing potential. Some campaigns released by DMOs, such as #DreamNowVisitLater (VisitNorway), have gained considerable interest on TikTok and this is likely to reflect positively on the perception of the destination among younger demographics.

Bonhill-Smith adds: “Social media traffic has dramatically increased as consumers have utilized this as a tool to escape stringent lockdown restrictions. Certain changes are likely to become long-standing as individuals will be more dependent on this to alleviate anxieties and influencers should be a key consideration in travel recovery strategies.”

 
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Coast Salish Territories / Vancouver, BC (July 2, 2020): As British Columbia enters Phase 3 of the Province’s Restart Plan, Indigenous Tourism BC (ITBC) is encouraging residents to safely visit Indigenous tourism businesses using their new Trip Planner mobile app. The app is an intuitive planning resource with educational tools that immerses travellers in the culture, history and raw beauty of BC’s Indigenous territories. Now live, the app features enhanced travel and safety information, including up-to-date operating hours, booking requirements and new community protocols.  

After successfully flattening the curve of COVID-19 infections in BC, the Province has unveiled the next phase of economic recovery. Under Phase 3 of the BC Restart Plan, residents can resume non-essential travel within the province, ensuring to tour safely; travel in smaller groups and adhere to physical distancing measures; and respect newly introduced community guidelines and protocols. Residents who feel comfortable travelling are encouraged to spend their summer holidays in BC, supporting local businesses while exploring the Province’s distinctive regions with care.

ITBC is proud to launch this enhanced version of its Trip Planner App to support responsible provincial explorations while sharing key information about Indigenous activities and attractions that are open for business. The educational platform makes it easy for users to find up-to-date information about Indigenous accommodations, attractions and cultural experiences that are open and operating this summer season, and provides free access to an evolving library of traditional songs, legends and languages to enhance travel experiences. Travellers may also use the interactive map to find nearby Indigenous venues and adventures, or follow suggested itineraries to embark on comprehensive cultural experiences. New operating hours and reopening information will feature prominently, allowing travellers to browse safety protocols and make advance bookings as required.

ITBC’s Trip Planner Mobile App is now available for download. Users are encouraged to read through regional offerings before making travel plans, and to book in advance where possible. Download the app here and to learn more about Indigenous tourism in BC, visit Indigenousbc.com or follow ITBC on social media.

 

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