Please welcome new author and GSB attorney, Julia Holden-Davis, to the Duff on Hospitality blog! She has over 15 years of experience in the legal aspects of design and construction and works out of our new office in Anchorage, Alaska. Welcome, Julia, and thank you for today’s recommendations on selecting an appropriate contractor. – Greg
Selecting the “right” contractor is one of several key steps in ensuring a hotel project has a strong likelihood of success. At times, the selection of the contractor might seem obvious – for example, a developer entering a new geographical market might bring with it a contractor with whom it already has extensive experience in other markets. However, contractor selection should consider a broader number of criteria, tailored to the particular needs of the project, to maximize the likelihood of success.
1) Pick the right people to make the selection
Consider first with whom to place the responsibility of making the selection, recognizing that within the typical hotel ownership and management structure, not to mention other project participants such as an architect or designer, not everyone has the same priorities, experience, or end goals. For example, one person (e.g. franchisor) might care the most for the aesthetic-related capabilities of a contractor. Another might prioritize timely performance (e.g. operator), yet another lowest cost (e.g. owner/developer). An outside architect may have a relationship (be it good or bad) with certain contractors. Selecting an individual or a team who understands the needs of the facility, the critical points, and the overall goals can lead to a much better evaluation process – and ultimately, identification of the most suitable contractor.
Consider discussing the project or portions of the project with a variety of contractors or other industry professionals before actually evaluating or selecting a contractor. The information gleaned in early discussions can play a significant role in defining realistic expectations, developing innovative ideas, selecting new products, and improving the overall quality of the project. For example, a franchised property whose intended aesthetic is cutting edge, top of the line, with new and fresh ideas may want to carefully consider the use of new materials which may not yet have a proven service record. Similarly, contractors with a depth of building experience with the chosen brand may have good suggestions to the design, phasing, or to other aspects of the project that could improve the overall quality or decrease the time or cost of construction.
Greg Duff founded and chairs Foster Garvey’s national Hospitality, Travel & Tourism group. His practice largely focuses on operations-oriented matters faced by hospitality industry members, including sales and marketing, distribution and e-commerce, procurement and technology. Greg also serves as counsel and legal advisor to many of the hospitality industry’s associations and trade groups, including AH&LA, HFTP and HSMAI.