A splendid view of the construction site

05Sep12

Between the city digging up half the street for no apparent reason, and a number of unrelated private construction projects ranging from refurbishing a patio to putting up new buildings, my block has been under construction for several years straight. Living nearby, I’ve gotten used to it. But as I spent a few hours last weekend in the hotel next door, it was pretty clear that the construction situation would be a real drag for the folks staying there.

For example, the hotel lobby is basically glass on all sides. One of those sides has a lovely view of a torn-up outdoor area, with various construction vehicles and debris strewn out all over the place. During the daytime, the ugly view is complemented by the loud drilling and clanging of the construction process. And to add insult to injury, this has been going on during the summer, when room prices are usually the highest.

I don’t know what sort of effort the hotel made to warn guests about the construction situation, but I doubt it was anything more than some fine print on their website — if they even bothered with that. That’s a shame, since if I were paying summertime prices for a hotel room, I would expect it to have at least decent views and be reasonably quiet. Instead, everyone staying on that side of the hotel or visiting the lobby was greeted with a visual and auditory assault from a messy construction site.

What’s the solution here? At a minimum, the hotel should make an effort to block off the construction area with a temporary wall, tent or other material. I saw another nearby hotel take that approach, and it seemed to help a bit. Next, they should identify the rooms most likely to be impacted by the sights and noise, and only offer those for booking once everything else is taken. Finally, they should make a better effort to inform the guests who would be assigned those rooms that there is major construction taking place nearby, discount those rooms accordingly, and get an affirmative consent from those guests so they know what they’re in for.

While staying near a construction site will always be annoying, people will be much less upset about it if they feel that they were given sufficient warning ahead of time. By setting realistic expectations, hotels can mitigate any loss in brand equity and repeat business that might otherwise arise in these situations, and keep customers as happy as reasonably possible during those periods when construction projects are in full swing.



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