What We Liked
It is evident from the data quoted by Gert Noordzij that the opening of new hotel facilities, especially in China, and likely in other Asian countries, is a significant area of potential application for project management. The essential goal of new-hotel opening processes is, obviously, to have everything ready for the first guests to arrive and have a comfortable stay supported by excellent, incident-free service. However, according to Gert's information, this special industry is riven with problems that together result in major delays in arriving at opening day.
As Gert says:
"In view of the anticipated phenomenal growth in China, I asked the question: 'How can hotel operators open new properties (under executed management and franchise agreements) on this scale effectively, efficiently, and in a consistent and predictable manner?' In my view, the traditional approach alone cannot meet the challenges and dynamics of new-hotel development on a large scale and will contribute to delays in the technical, operational, and commercial readiness of hotel projects.
It is interesting to note that there is no conventional literature on new hotel opening processes. Very few independent articles and reviews on the subject are up to speed. This fact contributed to the decision to publish this book, which explores better ways of managing new-hotel opening processes, issues and opportunities for improvement."
To answer Gert's question, a "root cause analysis" was conducted on the results of a survey in 2009. In this survey well over 100 hospitality professionals were asked a set of identical questions on what they perceived as the causes of new-hotel opening delays in Greater China. According to the survey, the top five perceived causes (i.e. most frequently mentioned in the responses) were:
- Construction delays
- Facility licensing delays
- Complying with fire safety requirements
- An unrealistic opening date, and
- Delays in the procurement of fixtures, fittings and hotel operating equipment.
In Root Cause Analysis it is typical to trace an adverse outcome back up the ladder, so to speak, to its root cause, though it is often difficult to tell at what point you have actually reached the real root cause. Gert presents one such example shown in Figure 1 below.
Figure 1: Intermediate causes of new-hotel opening delays
Note: "D" box = consequence; Rounded box = result; and Hexagonal box = root cause
Then there were a variety of other perceived causes, such as: Cash flow interruptions; staffing; last minute changes; lack of staff training, and so on. In addition a number of other problems were identified that do not necessarily result directly in delays, but are serious enough to affect the subsequent running of the hotel. These include: lack of market research into potential demand; corruption; and poor construction quality.
All of these will no doubt be familiar to those already working in the new-hotel opening industry. Note, however, that the chain illustrated goes back to the absence of a project management culture that, as already noted, is the most difficult to fix.
12. Ibid, p2
13. Ibid, p7
14. Ibid, p9
15. Ibid, Figure 3 on p12