By Javier Coll

With increased vaccine rollout, travel passports and easing restrictions, there is great opportunity for hospitality companies to seize the coming wave of travelers. The Caribbean sector is already experiencing a steady increase in occupancy rates comparable to 2019 numbers (Caribbean Invest). American travelers will look to the proximity of Mexico and the Caribbean as travel resumes, encouraging owners to focus on creating environments with newer, flexible and customizable experiences to fit their needs.

Meaningful renovations and conversions that are both time and budget-conscious can push a hotel or resort brand the extra mile to create differentiation and meet demand for years to come. Even strategic renovations during shoulder seasons will bring older properties more in line with new builds in a few months.

Owners should assess and improve properties to optimize cost, convenience, comfort and customization:

1.  Cost: Brands that underwent conversions and found strong alignment with their new partner saw improved occupancy, revenue and profit (Hotel Management). Smaller, strategic renovations can bring the same positive inflow into a brand after a lean year. Keeping both guests and resort staff safe is another cost-effective measure essential to a successful resort. Smart renovations that factor in safety protocols help prevent injuries and prioritize guest wellbeing while protecting the bottom line and brand reputation from damage.

2.  Convenience: For hotel owners to remain competitive it is not a matter of if they need to act boldly but when is the best and most convenient time to do so. New construction coming down the pipeline in 2020 was halted, so the market is prime for conversions in popular destinations that will open sooner.

3.  Comfort: Resorts that experience the most success remark that comfort of the guest is integral to longevity. Guests trust a hospitality brand’s reputation and their ability to deliver the best quality vacation experience. Converting a property to an established brand provides immediate brand equity and lends the consistency that guests are comfortable with. After a year of staying home, travelers will feel a sense of ease returning to their go-to brands.

4.  Customization: Direct feedback from guest commentary, social media and online user reviews allows for owners to direct their renovations to necessary areas for improvement. For properties looking to convert or renovate, creating an experience to meet guest expectations is key to choosing the right brand partner and renovation styles. Renovations to the lobby, main dining areas and adding amenities to the spa are all good places to begin and create that wow factor that guests look for and share with others.

The decision of when to complete renovations and conversions is unique to each property. Before moving ahead with planning, key questions owners should ask themselves include:

•  Are you following the marketplace and your competition?

•  Does your property meet current needs and best-in-class offerings?

•  Are you listening to your guests and is it reflected in the property?