The Case for Hotel Casegoods
Pre-Production Site Visits & Surveys
Consider this scenario:
It’s the middle of winter where you live. Temperatures are the lowest they’ve been all season and there’s a deep blanket of snow on the ground. What’s more, another cold front – complete with a few storms – is headed your way. But one night, your furnace breaks for good.
A call to a local furnace repair technician the next morning is anything but normal. Rather than coming out to take a look at your malfunctioning heater or showing you replacement options, the technician orders you a new furnace, sight unseen.
Any number of things could go wrong as a result of this approach and it leaves room for plenty of questions:
- Is the heater sufficient to warm your home?
- Will it match up with your existing utilities?
- Physically, is the furnace the right size?
Suffice to say, some facetime with the technician at your home would go a long way.
While purchasing hospitality casegoods is a much different scenario than an emergency furnace repair, there are indeed parallels to the world of hotel FF&E (fixtures, furniture & equipment) procurement.
Regardless of order size, custom hotel casegoods represent a major investment. And whether they’re for a hotel design refresh or a brand new facility, they’re intended to have a long, useful life.
The last thing any hotelier or project manager wants is to receive an order of hotel furniture that doesn’t meet a design vision or – even worse – fit through the front door. Both faux pas are costly mistakes and easily drive up a budget or push back a project schedule.
A site visit by a hospitality contract furniture manufacturer heads off many potential issues in receiving an order and all but guarantees your casegoods meet your exact specifications.
Unfortunately, not all hospitality furniture companies offer site visits. In our view, that puts a project at a disadvantage and opens the doors to delays and budget overages. To that end, we offer all clients site visits to ensure the best possible outcomes for a casegoods furniture project with Artone.
In this guide, we’ll lay out the case for why a pre-production site visit and survey is a must for your hotel casegoods project. We cover:
Why site visits and surveys matter
How a site visit and survey impact the FF&E procurement process
Preparing for a site visit and survey
What happens during a site visit and survey
Site visits surveys vs. your bottom line
Protecting the integrity of a site visit after it’s completed
Site Visit & survey: a must for all hotel casegoods projects
Why Site Visits & Surveys Matter
Think of the last time you stayed at a hotel. Even if you were already familiar with the brand, chances are you did still some homework ahead of time online, looking at pictures and customer reviews before booking a room.
Images and testimonials only go so far. It isn’t until you set foot in your guest room that you get a true sense of what the hotel is actually like.
The same goes for a hotel casegoods vendor manufacturing your order. Seeing your facility gives the first-hand experience necessary to provide the best advisement and produce finished pieces that exceed expectations. In other words, they’re able to really get to know your hotel and protect the integrity of your order.
A site visit & survey – typically one of the first things that happen in the order fulfillment process – gets everyone on the same page from the beginning. In addition to becoming extremely familiar with your hotel and its nuances, a manufacturer becomes better acquainted with your casegoods expectations. They’re also able to identify areas for efficiency or ways to overcome impediments (think: using a wider elevator toward the back of your hotel as opposed to the smaller one near the front door).
Ultimately, a site visit and survey pay dividends in the long run, serving as an early intervention against wasted time, effort, and budget – as well as the headaches to contend with all three.
How a Site Visit & Survey Impacts the Hotel
FF&E Procurement Process
A site visit and survey impact all phases of the custom hospitality FF&E procurement process. The information gathered while going through your hotel is critical to effectively conceptualizing and designing, manufacturing, and completing a casegoods project.
1. Conceptualization & Design
During an initial engagement with a casegoods manufacturer, undoubtedly discussions will involve what you’re looking to get out of your new hotel guest room furniture – from utility to effect.
A site visit is a good opportunity for your assigned project manager (PM) to get an impression of a hotel’s ambiance and atmosphere. With a visual of a hotel, a commercial hotel furniture supplier provides better recommendations for your casegoods design – maybe the darker color palate or furnishing style you’ve envisioned will look out of place. Or maybe your material selection isn’t up to the rigors of long-term everyday use. For instance, low-pressure laminate might not be the best choice for exposed surfaces.
An experienced casegoods manufacturer gives expert advice on custom FF&E that’s built for function and longevity while complementing your hotel’s aesthetic.
With detailed measurements and other key observations about your hotel, a manufacturer can create casegoods that not only deliver on appearance and function but also literally fit in your hotel.
Manufacturing casegoods with the end in mind ensures that you won’t get a shipment that needs to be sent back.
Get the Most From Your Casegoods Investment
Learn how value engineering optimizes a hotel casegoods project:
3. FF&E Delivery & Installation
The last part of a hotel casegoods project is receiving and placing your order. With a completed site visit, your manufacturer streamlines both.
Delivery crews won’t spend time wandering through your hotel looking around for where your order’s components should end up. They show up and efficiently place your order where it needs to be.
During installation, the results of the survey ensure your casegoods aren’t blocking en-suite utilities (power outlets or access to plumbing) or restricting access to entry and exit points.
Preparing for a Hotel Casegoods Site Visit & Survey
A fruitful site visit and survey starts long before a project manager sets foot on your property.
To set the stage for a successful visit:
- Have relevant materials (blueprints, floor plans) available – anything that the surveyor can review to help during the design & planning phases. It’s best to send these materials – if possible – ahead of time.
- Have spaces where casegoods are going open and accessible – while a picture goes a long way, there’s nothing like seeing the casegoods’ final destination.
- Block off time to accompany your project manager during their visit. The same goes for any colleagues who can provide key insights on your facility.
What Happens During a Site Visit & Survey
A site visit and survey isn’t simply a building tour or a chance to look over blueprints. They’re a comprehensive inspection of your facility.
While on-site, your manufacturer’s project manager will go through the hotel, taking note of the building’s general layout and seeing exactly where your finished casegoods will end up. They’ll ask plenty of questions, such as:
- Delivery location – will there be a staging area or will pieces be placed at their final destination?
- Delivery routes – are there specific pathways delivery crews should take while moving your order’s components?
- Project schedule – what’s your timeline and when do you target receiving your order
- On-site presence – who will be at your facility during delivery? Work crews? Hotel staff? Guests?
- Installation – who is handling installing your casegoods and do they require training?
- Important considerations – is there anything else they should be aware of with your hotel or order?
During the survey portion of the visit, a PM takes a more granular look at your facility and the rooms where your casegoods will end up. They’ll work through a hotel site visit checklist, carefully measuring each space and noting where utilities are, such as:
To make sure the hotel casegoods get to where they’re intended, they’ll also measure where casegoods pass through en route to their final destination, such as:
All the information taken during the site visit and survey is later compared against approved product specifications (or drawings) to create a detailed set of field measurements. The plans also include elevations and floorplans for each room where the casegoods end up.
What Happens Next in a Casegoods Project?
Download our Production Timeline e-Book to find out:
The Tools Needed for a Site Visit & Survey
Thorough site visits and surveys aren’t taken using a tape measure and a sharp eye. Given the nature of measurements and other details captured during the inspection, a PM should come equipped to get to work, bringing with them:
Site Visits & Surveys Vs. Your Bottom Line
Hotel casegoods are a major investment.
According to Cushman & Wakefield's most recent Hospitality & Gaming Report on Hotel Construction Costs, FF&E is the third-highest expenditure of a hotel project. During the last two years, hospitality FF&E costs have increased, driven largely by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on labor and supply chains.
A site visit and survey helps control costs.
From a design standpoint, seeing your hotel and where your casegoods are intended to go helps a manufacturer make better-educated recommendations to preserve your FF&E budget, such as:
- Material selection
- Finishing options
Across manufacturing, delivery, and installation, the information gathered during a site visit and survey helps guide all three phases along to an efficient conclusion. With no second guesses about making your casegoods to the correct specification or getting them from point A to point B, your casegoods project doesn’t waste its two most-precious resources – time and money.
Protecting the Integrity of Your Site Visit After it’s Completed
After a site visit and survey are completed, work with your manufacturer shouldn’t
That’s one of the worst things that can happen.
Even with the best measurements, familiarity with hotel layout, and understanding of your design vision, there’s always room for a slip-up or error to occur.
The best way to stave off any post-visit issues is to remain in regular communication with your manufacturer. And that goes both ways. A lapse in communication opens the doors wide to potential issues that hold up your schedule or cost you more money.
There’s plenty to work to do before your casegoods are ready for guest use as much happens to make them a reality, such as:
- Approving final designs
- Reviewing prototypes
- Creating a delivery-day schedule
- Aligning logistics for installation
- Addressing any other issues that arise
By remaining involved in your casegoods project in the interim from when your manufacturer completes a site visit to when your order arrives, you increase the odds of receiving casegoods you – and your guests – will love.
Site Visit & Survey: A Must for All Hotel Casegoods Projects
Back to our original scenario – your home’s heater breaking down at the worst possible time and an unorthodox approach to its replacement.
Furnaces aren’t cheap. Nor are they one-size-fits-all. Getting a suitable new heater requires a home heating professional to at least set foot in your house and see what they’re working with. This ensures that when your new furnace arrives it goes in without a hitch and fires up on cue.
The principles of this situation apply to ordering hotel casegoods and the importance of a pre-production site visit and survey. Without a first-hand view of your hotel, the chances of a manufacturer creating casegoods that meet and exceed all your expectations during their useful life drastically decreases. Fixing issues that come up on delivery day – such as pieces that can’t fit down a hallway or through a door, or that stick out in a bad way – are costly and take another investment to rectify.
Put simply, a site visit and survey before production starts on your order is an insurance policy of sorts for your investment.