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By Nick Marston, Director, Project Management | 25 May, 2020

The story is the same around the world. Cafés and restaurants are shuttered, hotel occupancy is down by as much as 95% and the tourism industry is facing an existential threat. While Covid-19 storm clouds are clearly overhead, there is one silver lining that savvy hoteliers and hospitality operators have spotted.

If you have the financial capacity to do so, now could be the best time to take on a refurbishment that sets your business up for the ‘next normal’ and prepares you for the bounce back.

While avoiding operational disruptions are an obvious plus, a slowing pipeline of new construction work will place downward pressure on tenders, making it a perfect time to negotiate a competitive price for work. Hotel and hospitality outlets that start now could make significant savings on renovation costs – and that’s the silver lining in the Covid-19 cloud.

In the pre-Covid world, business owners faced a difficult dilemma: to shut up shop, cut your losses and renovate in one swift stage, or stagger building work and trade through a long renovation. With most establishments now empty, that dilemma is decided.

How do you secure a strong comeback for your hospitality asset once the industry restarts? Now is the time to:

  1. Rethink your point of difference: How will you differentiate your business from the competition in a post-Covid world? Expect the first people to venture out and overseas to be the fearless Millennials – the same demographic most attracted to authentic brands and personalised experiences. How will you redesign your product to meet this demand?


  1. Reprioritise your projects: Make a list of all the projects that you would never otherwise have the capacity to complete. Hotel and hospitality refurbishments which usually require a host of trade-offs – buffer floors and a range of costly techniques to mitigate noise for example – can now be carried out with relative ease. What projects can you no longer afford to put off?


  1. Reassess your design: If social distancing is now the new normal, then we can say goodbye to breakfast buffets, bench seating, self-serve salad bars and crowded dining rooms. How we use space will transform hospitality design, translating into larger lobbies and dining outlets, seating spaced 1.5 metres apart and strategies to eliminate congregating and queues. How will your space shift to meet the market?


  1. Reconsider your cleaning regimes: The classic refrain of “location, location, location” is making way for a new mantra: “cleanliness, cleanliness, cleanliness”. Sure, hand sanitiser stations will become business as usual. But tired fit outs and dated décor are also in the firing line. We are already seeing a surge in requests for materials – from flooring to furniture – that can be easily cleaned and sanitised. How will a refurb help you ramp up your cleaning regime?


  1. Re-invent your technology: Hotels and hospitality venues are exploring ways to reduce high-touch points that can spread infection. Solutions from automated taps and toilets, destination lifts, virtual check-ins and digital keys are good examples. How will you upgrade your tech to suit the times?


Typically, most hotels and restaurants undergo a major overhaul every seven years. So, if you’re hovering at the five-year mark, now is the time to roll up your sleeves and start planning.

Altus Group has extensive experience working hospitality projects. From hotels to restaurants, cafes and bars, our team understands the mission critical challenges for any hospitality project. Find out more about how Altus Group can help you.

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