February, 2021 - Sachse Construction

San Francisco Nonprofits Collaborate on VR-based Construction Training

The program, which employs Oculus headsets for a real-world experience, is aimed at attracting young adults to construction careers.

Groups of young adults stand outside in the San Francisco sun. They’re lined up behind two students wearing virtual reality headsets, looking around and interacting with their surroundings. After a few minutes, they remove the headsets, and volunteers sanitize them. The next students step up for their turn.

VR is not a new concept for recruiting or training potential construction workers. At a time when VR is becoming more common and contractors face a shortage of skilled labor, several nonprofit organizations in San Francisco are coordinating to teach young people basic construction skills to get them interested in construction careers.

Brightline Defense, an environmental justice nonprofit, recently announced its collaboration with San Francisco jobs training program CityBuild Academy and virtual training startup TRANSFR VR, to make construction job training more accessible to low-income youth in a free, citywide program.

The students

The focus of the collaboration is to educate young adults aged 18 to 21, but specifically high school seniors, to get them interested in enrolling in CityBuild for certification, said Eddie Ahn, executive director of Brightline Defense. The program’s intent is to provide an introduction to the industry and help students see it as an option for a career path, aside from college.

“There’s been an educational trend to put every student who graduates into college, and clearly that has its drawbacks,” Ahn said. “It’s not a bad thing necessarily … but it’s not the only method either.”

The first six-week course, made up of 28 students, took place late last year, Ahn said. Social distancing outside, and using the TRANSFR app inside their Oculus headsets, students took turns before the volunteers would sanitize and swap them.

“Students are excited, especially the ones who have not used VR before,” Ahn said, adding that the outdoor VR allows students to experience the training in a way they wouldn’t have been able to during the pandemic, while also allowing both students and instructors to feel safe and distanced.

The app

TRANSFR’s goal is to “bridge the gap” between education in the classroom and work-based jobs, said CEO and founder Bharani Rajakumar. The specific app developed for the San Francisco program teaches baseline skills like workplace safety, tool identification and the use of PPE.

When donning the Oculus headsets, students see the 360-degree view of a construction jobsite. There, they view construction equipment, materials and machinery. In the gamified system, students identify hazards — such as a wire near a puddle of water — or tools for specific jobs, before a narrator details the proper information. The module is designed for students with little to no experience on a construction jobsite.

“Immersive learning through virtual and augmented reality will definitely become more commonplace as a teaching tool in construction and other technical occupations,” Rajakumar said.

The hands-on training gives students the experience they need to know if they’re a good fit for construction, manufacturing or other skilled trades, he said.

“A key objective of our work is to provide a realistic on-the-job experience so that when trainees find themselves on the actual job they are already comfortable in the setting and are prepared to be productive from Day 1,” Rajakumar said. “Trainees who take jobs following our training know exactly what to expect before they start the job, so when they get there, they are not surprised.”

U.S. Manufacturing Output Rose More Than Forecast in December

Production at U.S. manufacturers increased in December by more than projected, marking an eighth straight month of gains as steady yet more moderate demand growth and lean inventories continue to power the sector’s recovery.

Output at factories rose 0.9 percent from the prior month after a 0.8percent gain in November, Federal Reserve data showed Friday. Total industrial production, which also includes mines and utilities, jumped 1.6 percent in December, the most in five months, after an upwardly revised 0.5percent gain.

The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for 0.5 percent gains in both manufacturing output and industrial production.

An annualized 11.2 percent increase in fourth-quarter manufacturing production shows factory activity continues to steadily rebound. A slowly improving economy, still-lean inventories and prospects for stronger growth this year should continue to support the industry this year after the pandemic caused factory output to decline 6.9percent for all of 2020.

Still, hurdles remain, including labor constraints at factories and surging COVID-19 infections that could limit the pace of recovery.

A separate Commerce Department report released Friday showed disappointing retail sales for December.

Other manufacturing measures point to resilience in the sector. The Institute for Supply Management’s measure of factory activity expanded in December at the fastest pace in more than two years, bolstered by an acceleration in new orders and the strongest production growth since 2011.

Meanwhile, beneath the hood of a disappointing December jobs report, manufacturing payrolls increased by a solid 38,000.

Other details
  • The gain in factory output was broad, reflecting improvement in production of consumer goods, business equipment and construction supplies
  • Manufacturing capacity utilization rose to 73.4 percent from 72.7 percent
  • Total industrial capacity utilization, including factories, mines and utilities, increased to 74.5 percent from 73.4 percent. The industrial plant-use rate has improved but remains below the 76.9 percent seen last February
  • Production of motor vehicles and parts fell 1.6 percent in December. Factory output excluding auto production increased 1.1percent
  • Utility output climbed 6.2 percent. Mining output rose 1.6 percent

Top 7 Trends in Retail Digital Transformation and Innovation for 2021

As a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, digital transformation is accelerating at unprecedented speeds across the global retail industry, requiring retailers to build adaptable, composable business models to scale in disruptive environments. The crisis has also made clear the importance of technology to the industry: According to the Gartner 2021 CIO Survey, nearly two-thirds of retail CIOs believe their relationships with their CEOs have been strengthened during the past year, as CIOs have helped guide their businesses through significant disruption.

This year, capitalizing on the momentum of transformational activities — especially in physical locations — will be critical to building and maintaining the flexibility that is demanded of doing business today. For the foreseeable future, changes in consumer behavior will have a greater impact on value in retail than any other single factor.

To provide excellent customer experiences and, in turn, solidify customer trust, here are seven key trends that Gartner has identified to inform retail technology investments and other strategic decisions moving forward.

1. Touchless interactions

“Touchless” experiences are “safe,” physical-contact-free interactions across the customer’s entire shopping process. It is now an embedded expectation among consumers for retailers to include sanitization processes in their operations along with convenient and hygienic ways to research, purchase and consume goods. Touchless interactions extend beyond contactless payments to include touchless capabilities across all major customer processes, for instance scan and go, virtual experiences and more.

Touchless experiences must deliver a level of personalization that makes customers feel that retailers are really being loyal to them through taking the trouble to understand their needs and desires to deliver satisfying customer experiences.

2. Fulfillment execution

Fulfillment execution enables excellence in fulfillment operations across the retailer’s physical and digital assets through real-time analysis and reconfiguration of inventory, labor and processes. In turn, optimized inventory, unified commerce experiences and increased customer satisfaction are all made possible, which then contribute to profitability for the business.

This trend has become a top retailer priority, driven by the significant rise in e-commerce and increasing consumer demand for unified commerce experiences. Retailers are already working to remodel physical locations by reducing selling footprints and increasing on-site fulfillment and curbside capabilities. This is to prepare for the post-pandemic demands of greater online purchasing with the timely acquisition of goods.

3. Algorithmic merchandising optimization

Inventory is typically a retailer’s largest single expense. Escalating operational costs driven by shifting customer expectations are driving a renewed focus on merchandise assortment and pricing accuracy. No longer can retailers afford to spread inventory evenly across all store locations. Retailers must leverage algorithmic approaches to increase precision when planning assortments, pricing and promotions, and the resulting inventory investments across all touchpoints.

Algorithmic merchandising optimization enables retailers to more precisely determine items that need to be displayed and stocked, as well as how they should be priced and promoted to maximize sales, margin, inventory and customer satisfaction across touchpoints. A key element of improved merchandising performance and intelligent decision-making is the use of sophisticated data and analytics tools. In fact, the 2021 Gartner CIO Survey shows that 63% of retailers expect to spend more on business intelligence/data analytics, and 35% on artificial intelligence.

4. Associated enablement and effectiveness

A great customer experience hinges on a great associate experience, and this makes retail store associates key competitive differentiators. To that end, frontline workers must become one of a retailer’s most significant investments.

After years of underinvestment, many retailers are now playing catch-up by placing associate efficiency and enablement at the top of retail strategies in 2021. A third of retail respondents to Gartner’s 2021 CIO Survey indicate plans to increase spending on digital workplaces.

The ability to flexibly perform work duties, optimize costs and deliver excellent customer experience is now more critical than ever. Investments in retail digital workplaces — particularly those in physical store environments — have been shown to grow sales and increase profits, creating significant competitive advantage over time.

5. Collaborative ecosystems

Significant changes in customer behavior and purchase patterns driven by the COVID-19 crisis have exposed weaknesses in traditional retail business models. Engaging in a collaborative ecosystem through partnerships with other retailers, technology platforms, marketplaces or other innovative partners will enable retailers to extend existing business capabilities, support new business models, offer new products and services, and ultimately satisfy evolving customer needs.

6. Cost optimization

Cost optimization is a business-focused, continuous discipline that works to drive spending and cost reduction while maximizing business value. It has become an increasingly important imperative to manage the extreme economic uncertainty that the pandemic brought and is now a major pillar in many retailers’ “reopening playbooks” and operating models.

When developing cost optimization strategies, Gartner recommends considering these four critical elements: fulfillment execution, merchandising optimization, labor efficiency and organizational transparency. Short and medium-term fixed cost measures will prove unsustainable in the long-run.

7. Values-driven consumption

Customers expect retailers to act with honesty, integrity and transparency, delivering products, services and experiences based on consumers’ values. Today, the coronavirus pandemic has forced an anxious society – including businesses – to reevaluate and reprioritize their values.

Meeting value-based demands will require tight alignment among the internal players in the various functions and channels as well as building and maintaining solid relationships with the external stakeholders. Retailers will need to invest in constant vigilance to understand their customers’ changing expectations and adjust their sourcing and governance policies accordingly.

Tips to Improve Ventilation on Indoor Jobsites and Cut COVID Risks

CPWR – The Center for Construction Research & Training has developed a list of quick tips to improve ventilation on indoor construction sites in order help construction firms mitigate COVID-19 exposure risks.

As the CPWR points out, COVID-19 is airborne and spreads faster and further in enclosed areas than outdoors. Since ventilation guidance issued by OSHA, the CDC and other organizations largely focuses on workplaces with working HVAC systems, the organization is offering suggestions on how to improve ventilation on enclosed construction sites where HVAC systems are not in operation.

To access these tips to improve ventilation on your projects, click here.

6 Key Takeaways From the U.S. Chamber’s Q4 Commercial Construction Index

More contractors are facing a shortage of building materials as the pandemic continues, according to fourth quarter data from the United States Chamber of Commerce Commercial Construction Index (Index). In Q4 2020, 41% of contractors said less availability of building products and materials is a severe consequence of the pandemic, up from just 15% saying the same in Q3.

Most (71%) contractors said they face at least one material shortage, up 17 points from 54% in Q3. The most reported material shortage is wood/lumber, which has seen higher demand from a boom in residential construction during the pandemic. Now, 31% of commercial construction contractors report a shortage of lumber, up 20 points from 11% last quarter. Of those contractors experiencing shortages, 89% said it is having a moderate to high level of impact on their business, up from 75% saying so last quarter.

Despite growing concern over materials shortages, the overall Index score this quarter rose slightly to 60, up from 57 in Q3. All three of the Index’s main indicators rose: Contractors’ confidence in new business opportunities over the next year inched up one point to 57, revenue expectations increased four points to 52, and backlog rose two points to 70. Despite the gains, the Index remains significantly below the score of 74 from the first quarter of 2020 before the pandemic.

“The pandemic has exacerbated issues contractors were already facing in availability and cost of materials from tariffs and a shortage of skilled workers,” said U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley. “But there’s reason for optimism. More than 1 in 3 contractors plan to hire more workers in the next 6 months, and most see sufficient new business in the coming year.”

“The industry is a positive indicator of where the rest of the economy is going, but it’s likely confidence won’t fully return until companies and workers have the confidence to get back to work safely,” Bradley said. “That’s why the U.S. Chamber is urging lawmakers to come together before the end of the year on additional pandemic relief.”

  1. Contractor confidence rises—Despite ongoing uncertainty over the future of commercial construction, contractors signal that they are cautiously optimistic about their medium to long term prospects. Most (85%) reported a moderate to high level of confidence in the construction market to provide enough new business in the next 12 months, up from 83% in Q3, and up 10 points from 75% in Q2. While the majority (61%) of contractors expect their revenue to remain about the same over the next year, more (25%) expect an increase, up from 22% in Q3, and fewer (14%) expect a decrease, down from 19% in Q3. Additionally, 20% of contractors expect to see profit margins increase over the next year, compared to 17% last quarter.
  2. Material costs concerns remain high—More contractors (36%) plan to spend more on tools and equipment in the next 6 months, up from 30% in Q3, but concern about fluctuations in the cost of building materials remains high. Most (74%) contractors indicate cost fluctuations have a moderate to high impact on their business, up 11 points from 63% in Q3. Of those who said the fluctuations have a considerable impact, 61% said wood/lumber is the product of most concern, up from 21% in Q3, followed by steel (30%). Meanwhile, a quarter (24%) of contractors say steel and aluminum tariffs will have a high degree of impact on their business in the next three years, although this is down from 29% in Q1, and from 40% in Q4 2019.
  3. A shortage of skilled labor is creating challenges—Most (83%) contractors report moderate to high levels of difficulty finding skilled workers. Of those, 83% are asking skilled workers to do more work, 71% report struggling to meet schedule requirements, and 39% are turning down work.
  4. Contractors are more decisive on hiring plans—More contractors (37%) indicate they plan to employ more people over the next 6 months, up five points from 32% in Q3. Meanwhile, 12% expect to reduce their staffing, also up five points from 7% in Q3.
  5. Project delays are prevalent during the pandemic—83% of contractors are experiencing project delays due to COVID-19—Contractors report the average share of delayed projects is 26%. Looking ahead six months, that drops to 18%.
  6. Worker health and safety is a top concern—64% say worker health and safety remains a concern for their business, followed by more project shutdowns/delays (53%), and less availability of building products and materials (41%).

The research was developed with Dodge Data & Analytics

Five Ways to Mitigate Construction Supplier Failure

Due to the large-scale, complex nature of most construction projects, supplier failure is an inevitability. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen new and more critical examples of supplier failure and, more than ever, we understand the need to be prepared for the inevitable situation of when a supplier is no longer able to deliver on its original commitments.

Supplier failure is unavoidable, but it is also possible to create a healthy supply chain that will provide contractors with a safety net. This way, when suppliers fail, contractors can quickly and strategically pivot so that projects continue in the most efficient way. To prepare for success in the face of a supplier failure, here are five things contractors should know.

1. SOME PROJECT DETAILS CAN BE COMPROMISED, BUT QUALITY CANNOT

Quality is the most critical deliverable for construction projects, so when searching for new suppliers in the middle of a project, contractors must find someone who can do the job just as well as the current vendor, or even better.

However, searching for and onboarding suppliers can take a huge amount of time and resources, and adjustments to budget or other details will likely be needed. It is important to understand that these concessions are being made in the name of quality; however, contractors can decrease onboarding time and preserve their budget by assessing a catalogue of suppliers that is created using accurate, updated and trusted supplier data. Because contractors are working from a complete data picture, they can make decisions confidently and be assured that they have all the information needed to make the best possible choices.

2. CLEAN DATA WILL ENABLE OPTIMAL DECISION-MAKING

In addition to helping contractors navigate changing project details, clean and accurate supplier data can help them understand more about their current network of suppliers, so they can ensure that every supplier is being used appropriately.

For example, a contractors may have a long-standing relationship with a supplier who is contracted for one specific function. However, in the time since the contractor started working with the supplier, the supplier may have expanded its offering, and could very well be the perfect solution for an urgent need. However, if the contractor’s supplier data is stagnant and doesn’t reflect a supplier’s most updated offerings, the contractor may never know this, and could waste time and money searching for a new supplier.

Keeping supplier data updated is a full-time job, and doing it manually can be a hassle and leave room for human error. There are data solutions on the market that solve this problem, and constantly refresh and refine supplier data into a searchable database, so contractors can easily assess the capabilities of their current supplier base and quickly find new additions that fit their exact needs.

3. LEVERAGE NETWORK RELATIONSHIPS

The search for a new supplier should start with relationships. Because search engines and online listings are often pay-to-play spaces, the best way to evaluate the true quality of a supplier is to understand their reputation. Who is this supplier currently working with? How are they performing in RFIs?

However, when searching for endorsements, be mindful of bias or irrelevant information. Contractors should look for qualitative reviews that reflect the needs of their situation. Many current data solutions offer space in a supplier profile for reviews, and can provide actionable insights into how the supplier performs in different areas. Many of these reviews might be from members of the contractor’s network, and it’s best to look for recommendations from these trusted sources.

4. SUPPLIER DIVERSITY MEANS ACCESS TO MORE OPPORTUNITIES

Diverse suppliers can often be an untapped resource, but the importance and substantial benefit of working with small and diverse suppliers is becoming increasingly apparent. A supplier failure is a good opportunity to introduce more diverse spend into a contractor’s procurement strategy, which may be a requirement of a government or public project.

By widening your search to include small and diverse suppliers, contractors will open the door to new opportunities and the ability to share that opportunity up and down the supply chain. Especially in the case of adding more diverse suppliers to the list, pivoting after a supplier failure can have effects on a contractor’s entire supplier ecosystem. The contractor’s new supplier network could introduce benefits that trickle down to all stakeholders.

Small and diverse suppliers are often more difficult to find, and may not have been given the opportunity to achieve the same level of visibility as large suppliers—even if their offerings are similar, or even more innovative. In fact, data solutions that offer the ability for a supplier to self-certify as small and diverse are helping to solve this visibility problem.

5. THE BEST AND THE BRIGHTEST ARE OUT THERE

Sometimes, when a supplier fails, it can feel like contractors will have to settle for second-best to complete a project. However, having to recover from a supplier failure does not mean contractors need to compromise or lower their standards. There are countless suppliers out there who can exceed contractors’ expectations, and by working with them, contractors build new relationships that will strengthen the health of their supply chain and safeguard them from future supplier failures.

Creating the process for tapping into that network will require flexibility and a willingness to employ new strategies, and, most importantly, it will need to be powered by accurate supplier data. But by leveraging relationships and having confidence in data, contractors can create a safety net of suppliers that are the best of the best, and work with them to their fullest potential.

By keeping these five things in mind, contractors will be able to pivot quickly and prevent operational inefficiencies in the face of a supplier failure. By relying on high-quality supplier data, prioritizing relationship management, and considering small and diverse suppliers, contractors will build a solid base of trusted suppliers that can rise to the challenge when contractors face an urgent need.

State and Municipal Agencies Expand Use of Cloud Construction Oversight

As state agencies wait on a possible infrastructure bill from the Biden administration, many are better prepared than they were a decade ago to manage hundreds of billions of dollars in new work.

The Federal Highway Administration incentivized state DOTs to incorporate digital construction technology in 2012 when it established the Center for Accelerating Innovation. The Virginia Dept. of Transportation partnered with the University of Virginia to create the Virginia Transportation Research Council, a centralized research arm with its own budget that allows VDOT to allocate funds and better prioritize projects. In 2017, VDOT, through the VTRC, identified 50 projects with 75 contractor participants statewide that could benefit from tablet-based inspections and standardized PlanGrid, a part of the Autodesk Construction Cloud, as its cloud inspection program on all of them. Success on the inspections pilot encouraged the agency to expand its use of PlanGrid.

“Our use of PlanGrid on most projects remains primarily in the construction section programmatically, however, several of our design-build projects have made use of it for field document management and team collaboration between design, project management, and construction personnel,” says Robert Ridgell, district mega projects engineer at VDOT’s Fredericksburg district. “This has enabled all users to work collaboratively from one conformed set of plans and documents.”

Other platforms in VDOT’s suite of technology tools include Bentley ProjectWise, applications from Office 365, Sharepoint and AASHTOWare. VDOT is also moving toward cloud-based infrastructure to allow further collaboration with external stakeholders including contractors and designers.

“Several of our design-build projects have made use of PlanGrid for field document management and team collaboration between design, project management, and construction personnel,” Ridgell says. “This, combined with our use of Bentley ProjectWise, has proven to be an effective combination evolving our technology strategy into an efficient, comprehensive, and synchronized information flow that is a key cornerstone to our mission to deliver projects on-time and on-budget. Next key steps for us include utilizing application programming interfaces [APIs] to link these systems. Cross-vendor compatibility remains a key consideration for our roadmap.”

Ridgell added that VDOT  is planning to segue into model-based design, construction and maintenance to  share information between project lifecycle phases through model metadata. VDOT’s aim is to have systems that can identify specific assets and their locations across their project network. The processes currently in use with mobile inspection and project information management are planned to be cornerstones in the development of VDOT’s model-based processes.

The City of Sacramento, Calif., is using PlanGrid in its role as regulator of permitting and inspections of private developments. “The efficiency [is in] the approved plans and revisions being in the cloud, so our inspectors can access them in real time as they are approved by the city,” says Jason Hone, development project manager for the City of Sacramento.

Standardizing on PlanGrid was part of an effort that Sacramento’s development department began five years ago to get its processes off of paper and into the cloud.

“We wouldn’t be able to do our inspections today [with COVID restrictions] without those changes,” adds Hone.

So You Want to Open a Hotel? Now?

Before the pandemic began, the second location of The June Motel, a 24-room boutique hotel in Sauble Beach, Ontario, was set to open late last spring. To be fully ramped up for Lake Huron’s 2020 beach season was the goal.

Construction stopped in mid-April, however, leaving the property’s restaurant with half-installed floor tiles and guest rooms that hadn’t yet been coated in cheery blush-colored paint. April Brown and Sarah Sklash, the June’s co-owners, weighed three scenarios: not open at all; open as a rooms-for-rent Airbnb model without amenities; or push the opening until Labor Day.

“A lot of it came down to: Can we financially wait three months to open?” Ms. Brown said of their decision to delay. “The reason we were able to do that is that we got a lot of subsidies. We got grants; we kept several employees on payroll. There was a lot of support from the Canadian government for the tourism and hospitality sector.”

Over the past decade, tourism destinations around the world saw record hotel development. In 2019 alone, a global construction binge increased the number of hotel rooms by 8 percent compared to the year before. But in 2020 — and, now, 2021 — the lodging industry has faced almost unbelievable challenges: increasingly complicated restrictions on domestic and international travel, virus safety protocols that require resources and training, and strict testing mandates and quarantine requirements for travelers.

Which leads any rational person to wonder: Is it wise to open a new hotel during a pandemic? According to a recent report by Lodging Econometrics, which tracks the lodging industry, more than 900 hotels opened in the United States last year — more than 100,000 new rooms. This year, another 960 new hotels are expected to open.

The owners and operators fueling these projects are going beyond hiring bartenders and housekeepers, ordering linens and signage, and establishing booking systems and marketing plans. They must also implement disinfection protocols, enforce distancing and mask wearing, and figure out how to make the numbers work in a climate that isn’t all that favorable to travel.

For Ms. Sklash and Ms. Brown, the government support was a game-changer, but their success during the pandemic also relied on a slate of virus-safety measures, a doubled-down approach to attracting locals and a cool, escapist atmosphere. Others in the industry have echoed similar tactics — and have even found some unexpected perks during these unprecedented times.

“When you open a new place during Covid, you get to say, ‘This is the experience you get,’” Ms. Brown said. “You’re not saying, ‘This is the new experience.’ It’s just the experience. There was nothing comparable to what we used to do, which can be a benefit.”

Delaying the opening gave Ms. Brown and Ms. Sklash time to create new policies and determine their new priorities. They implemented a shift-coverage system, should a staffer awaken with a fever, and tinkered with personal touches — in-room canned wine, for example, served as a good stand-in for a glass that would have otherwise been poured for a guest at check-in.

When reservations opened in July, Ms. Brown and Ms. Sklash hit their fall financial target in a day, thanks, in part, to organic marketing efforts on Instagram, where the June’s page is a frothy expression of beaches and pastel hues. Within 30 minutes of releasing rooms for Labor Day Weekend, the entire hotel sold out for the three-night minimum.

“The independents aren’t going to be backed up by an extensive brand and marketing program and an enormous customer database,” said Kate Walsh, the dean at Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration, contrasting the opening of smaller hotels to that of larger chains. “So they’re going to have to really double down on how they convey what that experience might be and why.”

Ms. Brown and Ms. Sklash also shifted funds earmarked for the restaurant to the patio, which they kitted out with string lights, stylish furniture and greenery. But two weeks before opening, another outdoor space — the pool deck — was only partially finished.

“Home construction projects were up — everyone wanted to renovate,” Ms. Brown said. “Our contractor went to the hardware store twice a day for at least 10 days before we had the wood we needed. It was down to the bitter end.”

Procurement was also an early issue at The Marriott Virginia Beach Oceanfront, a 305-room hotel that opened in May.

At first, the housekeeping team serviced rooms upon request only and left newly vacated rooms empty for at least a day before cleaning them. That strategy worked fine until peak season hit in June, driving occupancy above 50 percent.

“No problem; we’ll buy commercial electrostatic sprayers and sanitize the room,” said Glenn E. Tuckman, the chief operating officer and managing director of the Cavalier Resort Complex, the $350 million, mixed-use complex that includes the new Marriott. “Problem was: No one had them. The airlines bought them all before the hotel industry realized their value. We found ours on eBay, but we paid for it.”

As hotel owners and operators have confronted the challenges of the pandemic, Dr. Walsh said, safety has emerged as the biggest priority.

“Safety is paramount — it’s the essential part of bringing the guests back,” she said. “And the challenge for hotels is showing that they are safe and secure.”

Miraval Berkshires, the 100-room spa resort in Lenox, Mass. — where this writer spent two nights over Christmas after shelling out tens of thousands of World of Hyatt points — was about 90 percent complete when the pandemic hit. Construction stopped until June 1; the opening was pushed from Memorial Day weekend to mid-July.

Management spent the downtime developing an enhanced slate of cleaning and safety protocols. Pens and ice buckets were removed from guest rooms. Public seating was halved. Extra heat lamps arrived, ready to brave fall and winter in New England. Wellness activities — most of which are included in the room rate — were tweaked for social distancing and vibe; a seminar on resilience was designed with the pandemic in mind.

“There was no playbook for opening a hotel during a pandemic,” said Susan Santiago, the head of lifestyle and Miraval operations at Hyatt, which owns the hotel. “We essentially had to write it and think about how to put it into action at the same time.”

Since the hotel opened, most weeks have sold out at the occupancy limit of around 50 percent, a Miraval spokeswoman said.

The Lytle Park Hotel was on track to open in Cincinnati on March 19. Three days earlier, plans were postponed. Ninety percent of the newly trained staff was furloughed.

The small group that remained established a Covid plan using guidelines from various sources, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When the 106-room hotel, which is part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, opened on June 3, it did so with about 50 percent capacity in the restaurant, bar and rooftop lounge. Even cocktails got a pandemic spin.

“Garnishes were served on the side instead of in the drink,” said Brett Woods, the hotel’s general manager. “We wanted to be very cautious as we opened into this new environment.”

Mr. Woods said that establishing those protocols upfront allowed The Lytle Park to come out of the gate with fully functional, if slimmed-down, dining. That strategy has been good for business: The socially distanced rooftop bar, he said, quickly became a hit with Cinncinatians angling for drinks and views this summer. Weekend wait times sometimes exceeded two hours.

“Most hotels were doing the opposite: not having any food or beverage,” he said. “Since we were a brand-new hotel, we didn’t want to open without having certain services available to people who would be experiencing this hotel the first time.”

After a soft opening in February and nearly immediately shutting down, The Pearl Hotel, in San Diego, reopened in June with COVID-friendly bells and whistles like Zingle, a real-time texting service that allows guests to correspond with hotel management before and during their stay.

“Guests are able to limit physical contact while checking in, but they also get personalized service and they feel they’re being taken care of,” said Carolyn Schneider, president and partner of Casetta Group, the hospitality management group that operates the 23-room boutique hotel.

After procuring hand sanitizer in bulk this spring, Ms. Schneider worked with Casetta’s creative director to design custom refillable glass bottles that matched the bath amenities.

Rooms also feature sealed boxes of sanitized high-touch items, including hairdryers — a detail not lost on Jessica Bender, 51, who has visited The Pearl nine times since July.

“Everything’s clean; there’s sanitizer everywhere,” said Ms. Bender, who works in the film industry in Los Angeles. “They even figured out how to have movies by the pool — I’ve watched ‘Dirty Dancing’ out there.”

As the Casetta Group gears up to open Casa Cody, a 30-room boutique hotel in Palm Springs, Calif., in early March, Ms. Schneider is reflecting on what she calls a “silver lining” at The Pearl: “It’s been exciting to connect with locals we wouldn’t necessarily meet otherwise,” she said.

“A new independent hotel has the opportunity to build a customer base from scratch,” Dr. Walsh, of Cornell University, said. “It might’ve been harder to attract locals before, when people would have gotten on a plane.”

The luxury market segment, meanwhile, has reckoned with how to extend hospitality and high-end flourishes in the absence of, say, the ability to shake guests’ hands.

At the new Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok at Chao Phraya River, a kids’ club is off-limits for now, but children can play with individually sanitized toys that have been arranged in their rooms. The private setup might also include a personalized play tent bearing the child’s name.

“The expectations from guests when they come to a luxury hotel has not changed,” said Lubosh Barta, the hotel’s general manager. “They expect the highest possible level of service. Despite what is happening around us, they expect it even more.”

The opening of the 299-room Four Seasons was delayed from May to December; during those months, management live-streamed trainings to keep staff engaged from home. Mr. Barta said his team adapted in ways that would have been inconceivable in the Before Times — say, positioning lights based on the recommendations of a consultant working from more than a thousand miles away.

“No one knows how long this will go on, and we’ve learned to operate in an environment that has been unseen, untested in our life span,” Mr. Barta said. “But as a positive, when we come out of this, we will be far more agile and lighter in the way we do business.”

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