The views expressed in this article are strictly those of Max Wideman.
The contents of the book under review are the copyright property of the author.
Published here December 2015

Introduction | Book Structure | What We Liked
Downside | Conclusion


In his introduction to this First Edition of Project Management of Hotel Opening Processes, Gert Noordzij makes it clear that "this book is a working document".[1] Nevertheless, it has been translated into multiple languages. For example, simplified Chinese and Spanish are done; proof reading of Japanese, Korean, and Indonesian is ongoing. Translation into Portuguese is work in progress.[2]

In fact the copy we reviewed was not complete by virtue of missing the contents of the Index.[3] Indeed, one of his very first comments is that "The author welcomes corrections and comments on this book."[4]

So here goes.

As a backdrop to the contents of the book, the back cover boldly claims:[5]

"The Chinese hotel industry has started the steepest new hotel development curve the world has ever experienced. By 2039 China is expected to reach 9.1 million hotel rooms, four times its current number."

This book was first published in 2014 and certainly there is no harm in being optimistic. That's good news for project managers and their associates in the hotel development industry or who are aspiring to join it. However, since then the Chinese economy has slowed down considerably in 2015 so one must wonder just how realistic that forecast can be.[6] Nevertheless, author Gert Noordzij presents compelling evidence from his experience that the Chinese hospitality industry faces serious difficulties in achieving its rate of expansion at whatever level that might be.

In his introduction, Gert observes:[7]

"This book was triggered by a research project to benchmark what is perceived to cause new-hotel opening delays against outcomes of a root-cause analysis. The results revealed that what the hospitality industry perceives to be the cause of new-hotel opening delays are actually symptoms of more deep-seated systemic problems. The causal chain analysis clearly demonstrates that the origins of the problem lie in the absence of a project-management culture in the hospitality industry. This logically leads to two questions: Can this be fixed? If so, how do you go about it? These questions are answered in this book."

Well, maybe.

The reality is that if the main obstacle to better performance is the prevailing culture, in whatever form, then culture change in an organization, let alone a whole industry, is the most difficult to achieve. Serious organizational culture change often requires layoffs on a significant scale and the rehiring of young minds that are amenable to adapting to a new attitude. Doing so on such a large scale simply makes it worse. Indeed, as the author notes: "Culture itself is extremely difficult to change and requires a long term strategy and time frame."[8]

Having recognized this, Gert narrows the problem down by identifying the most obvious adverse outcome, i.e., seriously delayed opening of newly built hotels. He then tackles the intermediate or direct causes and their corresponding impacts, of which there seem to be many.[9] Having identified the problem, Gert briefly considers published plans for future new-hotel openings in Greater China to explain the scale of the problem. He analyzes why traditional approaches to opening new hotels do not work efficiently and cannot be scaled and hence why project management methodologies are the best way forward.[10]

Thus, Gert concludes that introducing project management is the answer, and cites a variety of references to demonstrate that this path is a viable route to take. It is not quite clear at what point project management should be introduced, but to reduce the delays in construction completion in the first place, most likely at least at the start of construction. However, for purposes this book, Gert sees the effort involved in opening a new hotel is, in fact, a project in itself, quite distinct from the work of construction and hand over.

This approach is a good idea because the completion, acceptance and transfer of ownership of the building is one thing, while the furnishing, staffing and marketing of the facility and services ready for "go live" is quite another. It involves a different set of stakeholders, a different style of management, greater coordination, and typically a tighter schedule.

However, Gert's solution is to take the Project Management Institute's Project Management Body of Knowledge Guide ("PMBOK") and customize it as an official extension to the PMBOK. This would make future versions officially available as "a working document for senior hotel executives involved in new-hotel opening projects (who may be new to a high-growth region, new to a hotel opening project-related position, and new to project management.)"[11]

About the author

Gert Noordzij, MBA, CAPM, FAIQ, is an international hotelier and Organizational Project Management subject matter expert. He has over 20 years of professional experience in Greater China and South East Asia and has been involved in opening over 30 new hotels. Gert first started researching hotel opening processes in 2008. His personal objective is to help the hotel industry transform itself and embrace project management as a strategic competence. All of that is a vital background to the proposal we shall put forward at the end of this review.


1. Noordzij, Gert, MBA, CAPM, FAIQ, Project Management of Hotel Opening Processes, published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, North Charleston, South Carolina, USA, 2014, p xxiii
2. Additional information sent by Email 11/13/15
3. Project Management of Hotel Opening Processes: As identified on p159.
4. Ibid, p ii. The author may be contacted at
5. Ibid, see back cover.
6. According to Investopedia: "For the past 30 years, China has grown at a rate of 10% per year, with annual peaks of 13%. A large part of China's rapid growth is owed to its 1970s economic reform ... . However, it seems that even China's rapid growth couldn't last forever. Over the past five years, its growth has slowed to 7%. Still, to put this in perspective, the U.S. economy grew 3.7% in second-quarter 2015 while the IMF projects global growth at 3.1% over the course of 2015." See accessed 11/5/2015.
7. Project Management of Hotel Opening Processes, Introduction to the First Edition, p xxiii
8. Ibid, p15
9. Ibid, see extensive discussion in Chapter 2.
10. Ibid, p xxiii
11. Ibid.
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