Monday, November 10, 2008

H&MM visits relaunched Holiday Inn

After attending the InterContinental Hotels Group conference in September in Los Angeles, where the Holiday Inn brands and their relaunch efforts took center stage, I wanted an additional perspective.
At the conference, John Merkin, SVP of brand management for Holiday Inn, said there was a real sense of optimism from owners and employees about upgrading their properties. Merkin said he understood some concerns, most notably the cost of items (up to $120,000 for Holiday Inn Express signs and $150,000 for Holiday Inn signs alone), but everyone promised big returns on investment.
But what was the buzz at the properties themselves? How much of a difference did the upgrades really make, and how inconvenient was the renovation process?
Luckily, a Holiday Inn Select in Strongsville, Ohio -- about 20 minutes from Hotel & Motel Management's editorial offices in Cleveland -- had recently went through the transition. Joe Isernia, GM at the property, took a few minutes of his time to show me around and answer some questions. Below you'll find a slideshow of images from the Strongsville Holiday Inn and a Q&A with Mr. Isernia:

Holiday Inn Strongsville :: Owner Lodgian
General Manager
Joe Isernia :: No. of rooms 303

H&MM: When did the renovations take place?
Isernia: August 25 to August 29, 2008.

H&MM: What have you done and what is left to be done?
Isernia: We replaced both of our exterior signs and added exterior lighting onto the building. We added green ashtrays and garbage receptacles, new potted plants, new exterior benches, added window tinting to the front lobby doors, a lobby scent machine, and a new digital sound machine in the lobby. We installed new Holiday Inn lights and a scripted sign behind the front desk. In the rooms, we installed a curved shower rod with a new, white shower curtain, new bath amenities with a display. We added completely new bed linens with four pillows (two soft and two firm) with pillow tags and upgraded terry products in the bathroom. We are all done with the new hallmarks.

H&MM: Approximately how much did the renovations cost?
Isernia: $330,000.

H&MM: How long was the IHG team at the property?
Isernia: Six days.

H&MM: What were the easiest and most difficult parts of the upgrade?
Isernia: The easiest was the lobby scent machine; the hardest was the bed linens -- that part was time consuming.

H&MM: In your opinion, what upgraded area makes the biggest difference to the guest?
Isernia: The bed and bath linen; they can feel the upgraded product.

H&MM: How will the improvements help you stand out among your competitive set?
Isernia: Keeps us more competitive with our new logo and upgraded guestroom standards.

H&MM: Describe the QA training process, and how did your employees respond?
Isernia: The employees went through a service training workshop from our human resource manager -- five components on service training for the new hallmarks.

H&MM: Will the renovations allow you to increase rates?
Isernia: It will make us more competitive with our competition.

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