Hotel developers think of sustainability when it’s too late: Gert Noordzy [Video]

by | May 26, 2019 | People

Either vector in sustainability early into your hotel project lifecycle or prepare for a pointless exercise in changing light bulbs, says international hotelier and project management expert Gert Noordzy

International hotelier and project management expert Gert Noordzy has a pet peeve. It’s that sustainability is often an afterthought during the pre-opening stage of a hotel.

By then, he laments, it’s way too late in the game and sustainability just becomes about changing light bulbs.

Noordzy, the managing director of Northside Consulting, specializes in implementing a forward-thinking approach to opening new properties, providing strategy and comprehensive solutions for hospitality projects. He is also the author of the book on Project Management of Hotel Opening Processes.

On the sidelines of TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR Singapore, Noordzy spoke to TOPHOTELNEWS on how hotel owners and operators have different motivations and hence different views on sustainability, and how to vector in sustainability in the early stage of the hotel project life cycle.

On the different motivations of hotel owners & operators

Noordzy: There’s a big challenge in the hotel industry and we see it when we open hotels. Owner objectives or investor objectives, and operator objectives are not aligned. An owner or investor wants to have a return on investment upon the sale of an asset. An operator, their objective is to grow the system size, because that translates into an increased share price. And as long as these are not aligned we are not talking about the same projects. We’re doing it for different motivations.

Why vector sustainability early in the hotel project life cycle?

Noordzy: We are taking steps in the right direction. There is a greater level of awareness, but the changes that are needed are too slow in terms of what the planet needs. I was Wyndham Green champion. It was about at that time for 500 hotels roughly. And indeed it was about water saving, energy saving, and changing the light bulbs.

I looked at it from a different angle. The growth markets: South-East Asia, India, and China, they don’t have 500 hotels in the pipeline but 5,000 in the pipeline for Wyndham alone. So hence I take a very practical approach: vector sustainability into your project life cycle to avoid a whole range of challenges after the hotel has opened.

Owners in Asia cost centric vs opportunity cost centric

Noordzy: Owners in Asia are cost centric and not opportunity cost centric. They just think about the investment now rather than in terms of what would it cost if we need to retrofit. What is the damage, reputational or financial, if we are not sustainable and people pick up on it on social media. And there is a direct correlation between negative comments on social media, on TripAdvisor and the price that people are willing to pay.

The irreplaceable role of a project manager in hotel development

Noordzy: In a hotel opening project, the operator will tell you that the key success factor is the timely onboarding of a qualified and experienced GM. In a new hotel project, I would highly recommend an owner to use a project life cycle and have a project manager as the first person on the effort in order to select all of the stakeholders across all of the phases. A project manager is someone who manages the process, is not an expert in every single phase, but manages the interdependencies between those phases and makes sure that nothing is overlooked.


Noordzy: The good thing about this conference is that it doesn’t center around one phase, let’s say design or hotel operations. We have basically experts from across all phases of the project life cycle, and that is impeccable for networking.

Gert Noordzy was a delegate at TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR Singapore 2019. To attend, address or sponsor future TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR events around the world, contact TOPHOTELPROJECTS Head of Global Events & Conferences Kayley van der Velde.


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