By Jeff Hart

Hotel renovations are commonplace in today’s hotel operation landscape. From facelifts to complete overhauls, properties must take the necessary steps to stay up-to-date with current trends and the needs of today’s travelers.

While the impact a redesign has on the hotel guest is often the first area of concern for management, a team should also place emphasis on inspiring and uplifting staff, as it is their overall project knowledge and feelings towards the transformation that ultimately trickles down to the guest.

As a Hotel General Manager, keeping the team motivated is the single most important piece of the job. It is sometimes easy to forget that the guest isn’t the only one impacted by a renovation, and that every single associate is also affected.

Being empathetic to what the team is going through must not be lost amidst the chaos of the day-to-day project mayhem. On the heels of completing our multi-million hotel-wide transformation at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott – a project that in total spanned over the course of two years, our team experienced both the highs and lows of a renovation that permeated every facet of our operation.

Here are four essential factors that made the difference to motivate my own team at all phases, from groundbreaking to ribbon cutting:

Activate Leaders with a Task Force Create several teams through the duration of a transformation that can be soldiers on the ground, and service the needs, thoughts, and feelings of the hotel and its staff. Have senior leaders meet with the design teams, corporate leaders, and hotel ownership to ensure the property’s perspective and insights are accounted for throughout the process, and include key stakeholders from all levels of the organization.

Celebrate All Milestones, Both Large and Small The progress and updates of a transformation should be a daily conversation to all team members. Regardless, of how small or large recent progress is, take time to thank teams and really celebrate key moments throughout the project. Provide tours to associates of new and updated areas, share images via email, and recognize staff for their efforts to help reinforce morale.

Make Information Readily Available There is no such thing as over-communication, and this should happen at all levels of the organization. Throughout a renovation, there will be tremendous disruption and keeping every associate “in the know” is critical. Involving teams in the project creates excitement and positivity, while leaving teams “in the dark,” can lead to less than favorable interactions with guests. Create an Information Hub where all details and transformation news and updates can be found – it can also be helpful to include photos here as well. The associate cafeteria or entrance can both be great locations for the Information Hub.

Expect the Unexpected, and Remain Positive Setbacks are inevitable, and how you position delays to the staff is critical to their continued motivation. As a leadership team, it is important to stay flexible, and always have a back up plan to create a comfortable and uplifting environment. Scheduling a daily meeting with property leaders and the construction team is critical, as it helps lay the plan and keeps lines of conversations open. Integrate leaders in the day-to-day progress of the project that way they can continuously update their associates on changes that may affect them. When the unexpected arises, transparency is key to keeping teams invested.

The Los Angles Airport Marriott has recently completed a $44 million property-wide transformation, which included the redesign of 1,000 guest rooms, launch of a 4,000 square foot M Club Lounge with panoramic views of the LA skyline and LAX Airport runways, the introduction of new restaurants and dining concepts, and a complete overhaul of the property lobby.