In less than two months, the much-anticipated Hilton Des Moines Downtown will open its doors to the city and to the nation. For over two years, many project stakeholders in the Des Moines metro have been working to promote the convention hotel to groups in the Midwest and nationwide in an effort to increase Des Moines’ presence worldwide. The design and construction team collaborated diligently with all parties to help sell and deliver a first-class hotel to the people of the Des Moines metro and beyond. So, what does it take to help sell the hotel to those who will potentially hold a conference in Des Moines?
An Iowan Approach
It was important to project stakeholders that the hotel makes a strong connection to Iowa in its design and amenities.
“One of my key selling points is telling people that our lobby is the city’s living room, with its high ceiling, floor-to-ceiling windows, interior finishes and artwork that make the Iowa connection. It brings the city into the hotel,” said Tamara Chubb, director of sales and marketing for the Hilton Des Moines Downtown.
Des Moines is a growing technology hub and several elements of the hotel incorporate patterns following the technology theme. For example, the hotel’s windows are arranged in a random binary pattern, to add visual interest to the façade, similar to barcodes, and the carpet in the hotel was custom-designed to emulate electrical circuits. The artwork connects to Iowa’s agrarian roots; everyone locally, in particular, can connect to the artwork in the hotel. Even the restaurant, named the Park Street Kitchen & Bar, will feature local ingredients and products. The menu is anchored in the abundance of regional foods with wholesome and hearty fare.
The design and construction teams collaborated to create a virtual reality video of the building interiors to help sell the project. The visuals in the video are exact replicas of what the space will look like when it is finished, and the video will be used beyond construction completion as a sales tool for the hotel.
“The virtual reality video builds excitement in everyone that we’ve been talking to about the hotel. It is much more revealing than simply showing 2D renderings of the building,” Chubb said.
Early in project construction, two model rooms were designed and built adjacent to the new Hilton’s temporary office as another tool to showcase the hotel to potential customers. The replica hotel rooms allowed people to tactilely experience the future hotel rooms and were built to help market and book events.
“It’s hard to have half of the business without the model rooms to help us sell,” said Matt Felling, general manager for the hotel. “The rooms really add a ‘wow’ factor. Because a replica hallway was also built outside of the rooms, a lot of the people we took through said they felt like they were actually in the hotel.”
Weitz directed and produced videos of the prefabricated bathroom PODs installed in the hotel. The videos not only made the sales process easier, they also helped to educate potential customers.
“Everything that Weitz has done has helped to market the hotel. The PODs, in particular, are unique. Instead of just saying, ‘here is a typical bathroom,’ they gave our sales team a story to tell our potential clients,” Felling said.
The latest, most advanced technology will operate the hotel. Patrons will be able to check-in digitally with their phones prior to the check-in time. Further personalization for hotel guests will be the ability to set room thermostats with their phones, as well as customize room TVs and other technology with guests’ Netflix and Spotify accounts, for example. The hotel has state-of-the-art sound systems and LED lighting that hooks up to the internet to allow for future updates.
Construction Team Collaboration
Because of the amount of technology in the building, it was essential for the construction team to hold daily standup meetings, which is part of the Lean construction process, to help organize and coordinate the installation of all of the components and systems.
“From the beginning, our intent has been to finish the project in style,” said The Weitz Company Senior Vice President Jim McCulloh. “It has taken a long list of experts to successfully design and build this project, and Weitz has taken the most advanced measures to get the project done efficiently.”
“Engaging Weitz’s project manager as our tour guide for potential clients personalized the tours and instilled confidence in the groups we toured,” Felling said.
Felling also noted that being ahead of schedule in construction positively impacted sales.
“Everyone expects construction to be behind. Be early to build team chemistry and support the community. We could not be happier with the level of service that Weitz has provided.”