The world of hospitality has seen remarkable changes over the past few decades, driven by advancements in technology. As a hotel project director with decades of experience, overseeing over 20 hotel openings and renovations, integrating artificial intelligence into the field raises significant questions and opportunities.

With a deep understanding of hotel operational procedures, food and beverage concepts, technical and architectural knowledge, and a keen interest in interior design, could AI impact my input in project management, and could it transform the role of a hotel project director?

Although readymade AI tools are tailored for project management, it slips through like a new habit: enhancing presentations, generating content in Photoshop, and streamlining meeting agendas, for example.

These tweaks are just that. Tweaks. It would instead be interesting to know what leaps AI could see us take, to employ the technology in a novel and innovative way to effect real change.

Being a hotel project director, my responsibilities encompass a wide range of tasks that involve coordinating with owners, operators, contractors, and consultants, in-depth knowledge of hotel operational practices, food and beverage concepts, as well as technical and architectural aspects positions, and course current trends, while keeping overall profitability in mind.

Being a key player in the successful execution of hotel projects often means a hands-on approach, advisory role, and bringing to the table extensive experience. Areas where I must deploy this include:

  • Cost Estimation and Budgeting / Value Engineering: Utilizing AI to calculate expenses, make financial projections, and optimize resources to maximize project efficiency and minimize costs.
  • Interior Design: Generate innovative interior design concepts, ensuring they align with customer preferences, industry trends, and brand identity and possibly creating a new trend.
  • Food and Beverage Concepts: Identify and refine unique dining concepts that cater to the target audience’s tastes and preferences.
  • Project Scheduling: AI-based project management tools to create, optimize, and regularly update project schedules, ensuring efficient coordination and adherence to timelines with alerts and reminders.
  • Risk Management: Incorporate AI tools for risk detection and predictive analysis and prevent project setbacks and delays with financial consequences.

Costing and budgeting seem like obvious choices to deploy AI, which has the capacity for more advanced calculation than a human can do quickly, stepping in to save time. My role remains in setting the parameters for those estimates and considering which add the most value. I can look back at the history of a property and decide what needs to be done now, what could be delayed and what would most benefit a property.

As asset managers, it is our job to put the property first and consider the owner’s investment. The brand may be pushing for a number of updates, which may be driven by new brand standards the owner feels are not necessary. They may wish to pause investment in light of high interest rates. Or they may have other plans for improvements which are not in the brand’s schedule. The asset manager must advise according to their experience and what they feel is the correct decision for the property.

While the integration of AI offers numerous advantages, there are also potential challenges and considerations to keep in mind:

  • Implementation Costs
  • Data Privacy and Security / Intellectual Property

As we have seen with some early implementations of AI, there are issues around hallucinations – where the technology makes things up – and around scraping the intellectual property of others. There are moves underway, most notably in the US and the EU, to manage these problems and ensure that the technology can develop in a responsible way.

While AI can assist in many tasks, human decision-making and creativity in hotel project management remain essential. It is crucial to find the right balance between AI and human input.

Just as the advent of photography didn’t end figurative painting but led to its evolution, the integration of AI and automation is likely to transform the job landscape instead of vanishing completely. Adapting to these changes and acquiring new skills will be crucial for individuals and industries to thrive in this evolving landscape.