After 10 years in hotel management, having worked for Marriott International in a range of different properties, Melissa Green has now taken up the position of General Manager of Hyatt Regency Boston / Cambridge in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The iconic hotel is the largest in Cambridge and features 479 guest rooms and suites, 25,000 square feet of meeting and event spaces including rooms with unobstructed views of the Boston skyline, and a 24-hour fitness club. The renovation currently underway includes a brand-new entrance, lobby and atrium design, a revamp to the meeting and event spaces, and the overhaul of social spaces including the debut of new dining outlets: Paperback Tavern, a full-service bar & restaurant, and Paperback Provisions, a market-style carryout outlet located in the lobby, offers guests quick meal options.
As an industry that relies so heavily on face-to-face transactions and a smooth-running supply chain, it is no secret that hospitality has taken a serious blow since COVID. However, embracing these times of change and uncertainty, Melissa has taken on the renovation challenge, one which is due to be finalized this winter.
hertelier reached out to Melissa to get an insight and some advice on how to navigate such a large project from end to end in a post-pandemic world where communications and operations continue to be a challenge. Here's her advice:
Renovations are difficult no matter the magnitude. Renovations during COVID have challenged my leadership skills in ways I never would have imagined! During the last six months, I have learned to be more flexible, more outspoken, and that I need to increase my levels of organization at home by FAR.
Make sure you have daily meetings with on-site project managers from construction and your engineering team. This will be imperative to the ever-changing environment that we live in.
Over-communicate to your teams on all relevant changes to ensure understanding via multiple communication methods (i.e. on calls AND via email).
Add more time to your completion date. As a general rule prior to COVID, general managers would always add in a buffer of around 30-60 days between the planned completion date and the actual completion date to account for any snags or changes to the timings. Now that COVID has severely affected the supply chain, I would recommend adding at least 90+ days between the planned and actual completion date as we frequently need to adjust timings and move spaces around.
Use storage (if you have access). Speaking of supply chain issues, something that directly profited our hotel was keeping in place (when possible), or simply moving to storage our existing lobby and public area furnishings. This is a great practice, and if you have the storage space to do it, do it. It will save a lot of headache and planning when timings get shifted as you always have a backup.
Make time for the calls. Sometimes it seems overwhelming, between the construction calls, vendor calls, training, and your day-to-day meetings of actually running a successful hotel, but maintaining your presence on all of these calls will ensure that you are there to help continue to push for your priorities, make timely decisions on equipment, or help pick out accessories. This is a key part to ensure that you are proud of the end product.
Involve your team in key operational decisions. As a leader, it is imperative for your department leaders to be comfortable with the new design of their front desk or restaurant space, too. Having them involved will make the spaces feel more their own which creates a positive atmosphere and will help them take pride and ownership in taking care of the property.
Last question, how did the renovation change your daily routine?
For my daily routine, it is really hard to pinpoint my exact day-to-day. As a General Manager or any leader within the hospitality world, each day is very different. Here is a general overview:
As we are carrying the renovation over the finish line, I make my to-do lists the night prior, but I put the top three, most crucial things to complete the next day at the top. Those three always get done.
During this unknown time in our industry, we have to focus on what is the most important and what will make the biggest impact.
My morning routine is usually as follows:
4:45 am - Wake up & read MOD report/any pass-ons so I can gauge the structure of my day.
5:00 am - Work out - I love to run and kickbox. I learned that kickboxing is probably the healthiest way to relieve some stress and tension.
5:45 am - Make coffee & head to work
One thing I do not miss (with the exception of any travel or conferences); I am home every single night in time to put my daughter, Cora, who is two and a half years old, to bed. That time with her is my favorite and the most important of the entire day. I think that is what helps me to reset and refocus and carry on through the next one. We read stories together, cuddle, sing the same songs each night, and then I tuck her in and make sure I also tuck in her favorite stuffed animals every single night.