Opening a hotel - a delight or a pain?

For my perspective, the most exciting and complexed time for any hotel general manager is when receiving the opportunity to open its own hotel and lead the pre-opening team.

It all starts normally around one year prior to the set opening date. 

What it appears to be long time, very quickly turn out to be a battle against time. 

In my career I had the pleasure to be involved in several hotel opening, as a junior manager up to a hotel manager. Regardless the position I had, and the stress involved, it was always a great experience, that helped me to develop my personal skills and progress in my career. 

Not all the openings were a success though, the key take always from the negative experience was that without a team of skilled and engaged participants, and a thoroughly prepared critical path checklist, the chance of success are significantly reduced.

When now as a consultant I am involved in hotel pre-opening I refer to my experience to prepare the critical path checklist. 

No matter the size of the hotel, there are certain phases and procedures that must be respected and followed. It is crucial to gain the best score at each phase. 

Since this is a project that involves many stakeholders, it is highly important to plan all steps carefully, to fulfil all the demands of the stakeholders. It is a very complexed and time-consuming task, where time required to complete the task and deadlines must match precisely. To make the whole even more complicated are the delays caused by the supply of materials and equipment, and lack of workforce in the building sector.

There isn’t for the checklist a standard format, as every hotel has its own specifics. 

Typically, I divide the plan into two parallel running parts: administrative and operational:

The first part takes into account all sales and marketing activities that include – set up of webpage, set up of the reservation department, revenue management, marketing plan. Then the administrative tasks, that include the stipulation or review of agreements, brand agreements, brand requirements and standards and operating budget. 

The second part includes all the task related to the preparation of the hotel operation, including order and delivery of operating supply and equipment, menu planning, operational training and setting standards of operation.

Author: Emanuele Dalnodar