citizenM Drives Expansion using OnsiteIQ for Project Controls and Benchmarking to Improve Financial Outcomes and Quality of Construction


CitizenM is a new breed of hotel that offers travelers a unique experience—affordable luxury in central city locations worldwide. More than just a place to sleep, citizenM crafts the entire stay around the modern traveler, who not only needs rest but also requires a space to work, relax, and play. From the signature scent that greets you upon entering a citizenM hotel to the artsy decor and soundproof rooms, everything about citizenM is unique, colorful, and confident. This innovative approach to a long-standing industry has led the fully integrated real estate developer to invest in, develop, and operate a portfolio of over 20 owned hotels spanning Europe, North America, and Asia Pacific. However, such rapid growth inevitably brings its own set of challenges.

The Challenge

As material prices rise and interest rates increase, construction costs grow more unpredictable, threatening citizenM’s bottom line. This complexity intensifies due to citizenM’s expansive global development portfolio, which requires collaboration with various contractors in different markets and the establishment of new key relationships. A significant challenge they face is detecting and addressing delays before they escalate and affect hotel opening dates. While their projects share similar designs, they don’t have the necessary tools to benchmark progress consistently against other projects, such as tracking schedule adherence and projecting completion dates. The most vital determinant for meeting financial return targets is the timely delivery of projects. However, with this multitude of challenges, it becomes ever more difficult to meet or exceed the required financial return targets. CitizenM sought out a tech-enabled solution to monitor global development as their existing monitoring tools and capabilities weren’t feasible or adequate.

  • Remote Monitoring
  • Real Time Verification 
  • Project Benchmarking 
  • As-Built Documentation

The Solution

In early 2019, Harold Reniers and his in-house development team scanned the market for construction monitoring solutions. Their aim was to find the best possible solution to help them have better project control across their development portfolio, meet their financial goals, and limit unforeseen risks—difficult considering the large portfolio of distributed projects where delays can easily occur. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic made traveling to and from sites or accessing the project locations no longer practical. After an exhaustive search, citizenM contracted with OnsiteIQ to begin overseeing the six hotels planned for 2022 and the four planned for 2023. 


Immediately, the impossible task of being at six hotels simultaneously to oversee construction was alleviated. Anyone on the citizenM team could access their projects remotely, including detailed walkthroughs and the ability to ‘time-travel’ to specific time-stamped project imagery. 


This proved especially useful for benchmarking, where the in-house development team leveraged OnsiteIQ data to create visual guidelines for construction milestones. Now, the team can look at visual examples of what lobby construction should look like six and ten months out from completion to quickly determine if they are trending well. Or, quickly scan guest rooms four months before opening to do the same. This visual playbook enables citizenM to spot delays before they occur and creates opportunities to work with contractors on recovery schedules. Since delays are the biggest driver of reduced ROI, this has significantly helped the construction team contribute to citizenM’s aggressive financial goals. 


Since implementing OnsiteIQ the entire team leverages the capabilities they now have and have incorporated the solution into their standard operating procedures. Adoption is wide and across the entire citizenM development team, with stakeholders leveraging OnsiteIQ to better perform their jobs and deliver new hotels. 


Remote Monitoring

Before adopting OnsiteIQ, the citizenM development team depended on updates from contractors or their capacity to frequently visit sites. Although they valued contractor updates, the use of different contractors nationwide meant varying reporting standards and less familiarity. As a result, the data wasn’t always as objective as the undeniable insights gained from 360° walkthroughs and progress tracking for major milestones by floor. Regular site visits, while insightful, were time intensive, expensive, and challenging with multiple concurrent projects.


Heather Skeehan, Head of Strategic Design, now leverages OnsiteIQ’s remote walkthroughs to closely monitor far more projects than previously possible. “I use Progress Tracking in two main ways: first, to pinpoint when and where specific trades are active, helping me choose the best times and walkthroughs to scan. Second, as a ‘back check’ during internal hotel opening date talks. A quick glance at the Progress Tracking for the recent two months gives me a clear sense of the project’s state. This allows me to advise the project teams on whether changes make sense at certain points in construction.” Consequently, Heather and her team have gained a deeper understanding of projects. This enhancement has fostered better contractor collaboration and ensured more timely project deliveries.


Real Time Verification

CitizenM is using the irrefutable time–stamped walkthrough data from OnsiteIQ to verify the information they receive from contractors. “It’s a second set of objective eyes that lets us build a week-over-week timeline of exact site conditions. In one instance, we used OnsiteIQ to save $60k on a series of change orders for a recurring issue that was caused by poor craftsmanship and improper subcontractor installation.” Heather Skeehan, Head of Strategic Design. “We’re also able to challenge our own assumptions. We had repeated issues with bakery wall tile and we assumed the issue stemmed from rushed installation. Looking back through OnsiteIQ walkthrough data we realized that the start of the installation correlated with unapproved shop drawings, which we ultimately addressed on subsequent projects.” OnsiteIQ’s walkthrough data empowers citizenM to verify what they are hearing from their contractors and save thousands of dollars on change orders regularly. 


Project Benchmarking

Since citizenM’s projects all follow a repetitive design, there are valuable insights to glean for future projects. But, easily accessing these insights means capturing the data, cataloging it, and making it available to learn from—a difficult task. Prior to implementing OnsiteIQ, this insight was limited to individuals or, at best, ‘Tribal Knowledge’ within the team. Building a trusted database and playbook at scale as standard operating procedure for citizenM’s development team was just not possible. Thanks to OnsiteIQ, citizenM has been able to do just that. “I was able to create a visual playbook from our active development portfolio, including examples of key milestones that are early indicators of on-time delivery or delays. Now, I can look at any active project and compare it to imagery from another development, allowing me to easily identify issues. We can quickly assess whether we’re on track or need to proactively reach out to contractors.” – Edouard Espinasse, Project Manager, citizenM. This proactive project management has allowed citizenM to improve schedule adherence and enforce better project controls, significantly increasing confidence in the team’s ability to oversee the portfolio and meet aggressive delivery timelines. 


As-Built Documentation

CitizenM is leveraging OnsiteIQ to protect against claims, including delay claims brought on by contractors. In one instance, being able to create a detailed visual timeline of precise jobsite progression has proved invaluable. Rather than going into litigation with the contractor presenting logs and paperwork without any rebuttal, citizenM is showing irrefutable project truth throughout the entire construction duration. This comprehensive time-stamped imagery saved 

citizenM both time and money and proved to be the deciding factor  needed to overcome ungrounded delay claims.


Since 2019, citizenM has utilized OnsiteIQ’s state-of-the-art technology across over a billion dollars of new developments in the US. As an international hotel developer with a rapidly expanding global presence, citizenM is benefiting from OnsiteIQ’s ability to remotely monitor construction on ground-up projects spread across the country. The entire development team has adopted OnsiteIQ’s solution as part of their standard operating procedures including automatic inclusion on all new projects. As a result, the team is able to successfully oversee far more projects than previously possible with a 360° imagery visual timeline of project progression over time, easily accessible reporting on project progress on 18 major milestones, the documentation for future maintenance, defense against frivolous litigation when applicable, and complete peace of mind that the team can manage the growing development portfolio. As citizenM brings their unique hotel offering to more and more of their loyal customers across the U.S., OnsiteIQ will be there to support their growth.