Capex and PIPs – What We Learned From Industry Experts at the Hunter Hotel Investment Conference 2024

Charis Atwood

By Charis Atwood

Apr 24, 2024

Embarking on a hotel renovation? Armed with a Property Improvement Plan (PIP) but unsure where to start? We’ve got you covered with insights learned at the recent Hunter Hotel Investment Conference in Atlanta where industry experts spoke from a diverse range of experience on one of our favorite topics – PIPs and Capex investments.  


Set the stage for success for your next renovation, PIP or refresh project by steering clear of these five common pitfalls. 

1. Lack Of Team Communication

Every panel member of the PIP & Capex discussion at the conference agreed that effective communication is the cornerstone of a successful renovation. From Ownership and Operations to the Brand, General Contractors, Consultants, and Install Teams – unify your vision from Day 1. Transparent budget and schedule discussions are crucial, and we recommend daily huddles to keep everyone informed. This not only fosters teamwork but ensures a seamless guest experience amid the renovation chaos. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, as knowledge is your greatest asset in navigating the renovation process.

2. Not Assembling the Right Team (Or Waiting Too Long to Do So!)

Crafting the right team is more than just a checklist. And as Sarah Churchill reiterated during the conference, please don’t select consultants based on fee alone! Select your consultants early to avoid scrambling to find a team to execute your project efficiently. When it comes to FF&E, rely on reputable vendors with proven track records. Your renovation is not the time for trial and error- choose experience and reliability over untested alternatives. 

Clearly define expectations to avoid potential scope gaps and potential `         added service requests down the line by developing and implementing a responsibility matrix (also called a differentiation document) before drafting contracts. 

Even small renovations demand meticulous planning, and all aspects of the renovation must be considered for a clear picture of the project costs and duration.


The sooner you assemble your team and assess costs and schedule, the more successful your outcome will be. Don’t push your PIP aside thinking you’ll “get to it next week.”  The longer you procrastinate the more difficult it will be to obtain qualified consultants and contractors as well as to achieve the timeline in which you are required to complete the renovations. 

3. Assuming All Renovations Are Equal

Every property is unique, and client expectations vary. Tailor your approach to meet the specific needs, whether it an enhanced art program that goes beyond what Brand requires, or timeline and budget, projects should not be viewed with a one size fits all approach. 

4. Setting an Unrealistic Budget or Not Considering Value Engineering

Harness your consultant’s expertise to establish a realistic budget aligned with the project scope. Overlooking key budget items like warehousing, installation and freight leads to significant cost overruns. Embrace Value Engineering (VE) as a collaborative tool between consultants, Ownership, and the Brand to optimize your bottom line while staying true to the standards and design intent. 

5. Assuming All Will Go Perfectly

Be prepared to pivot and think outside the box. 

While seasoned consultants can streamline the process, surprises are inevitable. Be flexible, anticipate the unknows the best you can and rely on your experienced project team to foresee potential pitfalls and offer innovative solutions. 

Embarking on a hotel renovation is a substantial investment. By sidestepping these common mistakes, you’ll pave the way for a successful project that not only meets but exceeds expectations, delivering a substantial return on investment for hotel owners and investors.

About the author

Charis Atwood

Charis Atwood is an expert in project management, from project programming, budgeting, scheduling, managing RFP’s, quality control, and installation to operational turnover and opening. She is an invaluable asset to all projects she manages. Charis focuses on FF&E (Furniture, Fixtures & Equipment) and works closely with owners, purchasing agents, vendors, and interior designers to coordinate budget requirements and to assure deadlines are maintained. This includes but is not limited to, thorough reviews of architectural drawings to ensure interior design elements are represented as required, bid and contract negotiations for purchasing, warehousing, and installation of FF&E. She has been instrumental in the FF&E/OS&E Management of many timely and budget-driven projects such as resorts, hotels, casinos, country clubs and schools. She is an active member of Cayuga Hospitality Consultants.

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