November 10, 2010
By Andrew Sheivachman
Hotel and Motel Management

Dallas is a city known for being larger than life. Scott Blakeslee, the new general manager of the InterContinental Dallas, is ready to bring the property back into the limelight with a bold renovation set to modernize the enormous 528-room hotel.

“The first thing I want to do here is reestablish our place in the market,” said Blakeslee. “The property has gone through a hibernation over past three or four years, doing incredible things with increased revenue but telling nobody about it. We’re not going to make the mistake again of doing something so big and not telling anybody about it.”

“It takes a very brave ownership and operator to go through a substantial renovation during a recession, so the timing is almost psychic on their part,” said Blakeslee. “We’re finally completing as the market sees some growth again. We can ask for more rate and showcase the renovation.”

“A big mistake that many hotels and resorts make is to sit back and wait for people to ‘just know’ about a major renovation, or even think that that alone would create extra rate or revenues when they finally did,” said Blakeslee.

“First, we need use our renovations and the beautiful physical changes it brings as just part of an overall marketing strategy and programming of heightened personalized services with unique and compelling touch points, events and experiences,” said Blakeslee. “Second, you need to talk about all of these things to the world – or at the very least, the world you are targeting – through every vehicle from grassroots, traditional print, to tomorrow’s next big social site.

“To that point, as important as it was to secure the right General Contractor for the physical property renovations, we also brought on board a web designer for developing a proprietary site for greater content push, an e-commerce manager for SMO initiatives and messaging, and most importantly, a strong and well suited public relations firm.

“Finally, work all of these elements together with the right invitation timelines and start throwing parties and providing the guest and patron experience you have been bragging about. In other words, execute the hype and show you increased value to them.”

Blakeslee says the InterContinental Dallas’ new renovations will help the property raise its profile and draw first-time visitors to Dallas. Newly refurbished common areas including the lobby, restaurant and lounge will feature unique art by local artists and a design that accentuates the large open spaces that are one of the hotel’s main attractions.

“So much space is hard to find in new hotels,” said Blakeslee. “Our lobby and this space is just massive, you don’t walk into spaces anymore and see something so spectacular, an amazing space to explore.”

He thinks IHG is looking for a new breed of GM who can sell rooms and drive up rate in addition to overseeing everyday operations.

“This is kind of a new face of GMs because throughout the recession it was great to get an operator in chair,” said Blakeslee. “But its better to get a marketing specialist if you know how to operate and motivate; you’re still a salesman and you know where the top line is, that’s why they choose you.”

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