It used to be that hot water, a comfortable bed, and a great breakfast were what guests wanted most from their hotel stay experience. But today’s traveler is now looking to stay connected seamlessly to our online world. This means they expect high-quality internet access both for pleasure and for business use.
Whether you are a seasoned IT expert building the world’s most technologically advanced property or a first-time developer who just wants basic infrastructure to support your guests needs, the principles of technology management stay the same. Systems have grown in complexity and your team may not have the resources to manage technology infrastructure construction while keeping up with daily responsibilities. Here five important considerations to keep in mind to help make your technology roll out as smooth as possible.
- Communication is Key
If you want to have a good relationship with anyone, you need to communicate. Constant communication between the design team, operations, owners, vendors, and contractors is imperative throughout the entire process. A high percentage of all change orders and cost overruns come from a lack of communication and coordination among the team. If any changes are needed during the project, all parties involved must be sure to validate each change, not matter how small. A good project manager will monitor each change and update the teams regularly. Make sure to involve the operations team early to make sure the product will meet business needs. Clearly communicate the end needs to all partners to keep the plans accurate. Establish a single meeting with everyone in attendance to coordinate logistics. Use a single punch list for updates and have a unified verification process.
- Knowledge & Experience
Work with people that are fully qualified for each specific project and have the time to dedicate to the project so you can benefit from their knowledge. Designers and architects should be educated on each system. Contractors and vendors must be qualified in installing all components. Validate subcontractor resumes, check references, and ask if they have adequate work experience for the size of the job. The project manager should have the same experience as the rest of the team and experience in managing projects of the same scope. A project manager with experience in design and construction will be helpful in pinpointing operational issues before the system is installed.
- One Set of Plans
Use one set of plans throughout the entirety of the project. This rule is really just a practical application of good communication. We all need to be singing from the same song book. Use the architectural plans as a base and coordinate CAD programs. Working from a single set of design drawings will ensure coherent planning and make communication more efficient. Similarly, if you’re working from an existing project, document as-built drawings on the same drawing set as the design drawings. If one team is off, the entire project could be delayed months or send costs soaring way over budget.
- Minimize Changes
Changes during construction impact multiple trades which means the costs multiply quickly. For example, a data port move might impact framing, electrical subs, interior finishes, and other departments. It’s crucial that teams do their homework up front to minimize changes needed during construction. There are several ways to prevent unforeseen changes. Schedule meetings early in the design process to involve all necessary vendors. Establish plan review meetings to check the accuracy of drawings as early as possible. Allow for some possible changes in the design. For example, add spare cabling in the initial design in case it is needed later; this will help avoid expensive changes later since it is already built in. Plan for future capacity needs during the design. Most contractors work hard to complete a job. Additional changes may not get completed if they are issued late and the contractors have no capacity for them. Review plans early in design with the operations team, and communicate their changes and feedback to the design consultants early in the project to lock in costs and avoid budget overruns.
- Pay Attention to Details
The minor details are not always as “minor” as they might seem. Ensure that you have detailed shop drawings in each place that you have multiple systems coming together. Review shops early and ensure that everyone involved is aware of the details so they can have input and understand the requirements. This will outline how each piece works together in a way that every team will understand. Make a list of every system you use, and be sure to include team leaders for each system in the early design process.
These principles can apply to many parts of the development process but are particularly crucial when looking at technology systems in any property.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Garrett Mathieu is a Partner and VP, Development & Technical Services for Wellengood Partners. His experience ranges from systems development and implementation, to operations, design and construction and technology consulting for new builds and expansions of all types and scales. Garrett started with the company in 2005. He is responsible for project development, program management, renovations, and capital improvements, as well as design and construction of new hospitality venues. Mathieu’s first job in the hospitality industry was bussing tables in high school, which quickly evolved into a position as a cook. Before Wellengood, Mathieu worked in development and design and construction positions with Gaylord Entertainment Company and served as the chairman of the Hotel Technology Next Generation Point of Sale workgroup. He also supported systems implementations for the openings of Treasure Island, Mirage, Caesar’s Palace, Holiday Riverboat, Royal Caribbean cruise ships, Six Flags, Opryland and numerous other resort and casino properties across the nation.