What You Missed at the 2011 Hotel Technology Forum

By Christina Volpe, Associate Editor | April 29, 2011

For the last seven years, Hospitality Technology’s Hotel Technology Forum has been arming lodging technology executives with the insights and best practices needed to address mission-critical IT issues through a mix of educational sessions and peer-to-peer networking. This year’s event, held April 20-22 at the Mandarin Oriental (CityCenter) in Las Vegas, Nev., continued in that tradition with a focus on the theme: “Insights from the Leading Edge of Hotel Technology Innovation.”
 
This year’s event offered a number of sessions that took a case-study approach to a wide range of topics from personalization to cloud computing. Katrina Lane, SVP and CTO for Caesars Entertainment kicked off this year’s event with a high-impact session relating the pluses and perils of guest personalization. In her session, Lane highlighted a number of ways in which Caesars is leveraging guest information to create a more personalized experience, from its central reservations system to interactive digital signs, but also warned that personalization should not be considered a one-size-fits all approach to customer interactions.
 
“The most important takeaways that I took away from the sessions is around personalization and loyalty programs and how it is vitally important that those programs and strategies are operationalized at the property level,” says Hilton Worldwide CIO and 2011 Hotel Technology Forum chairperson, Robert Webb. “I thought that Katrina Lane from Caesars did a fantastic job in explaining how they were embracing personalization and also highlighted some of the perils associated with that. It really made me think about how we are operationalizing some of our technology-enabled initiatives at Hilton Worldwide.”
 
While Caesars highlighted how personalization is tailoring customer experiences, Choice Hotels International focused on the next-gen trends affecting property management systems. In his day two keynote, CTO Todd Davis related how the company’s web-based, proprietary PMS (called choiceADVANTAGE) has removed the barriers between property and central systems to allow the company to meet its needs for global distribution and guest personalization.

 
Meanwhile, John Prusnick, director of IT innovation and strategy for Hyatt Hotels Corporation, pulled back the curtain to share how his company has been adopting cloud computing technology as an industrialized applications suite.

 
A group effort
This year’s agenda also included two interactive panel discussions. “The Guestroom Difference: Technologies that Differentiate & Influence” panel, hosted by Daniel J. Connolly, Ph.D., associate dean, University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business, included executives from Morgans Hotel Group, InterContinental Hotels Group and Hilton Worldwide, and focused on the in-room technology trends that are most likely to impact guests’ hotel choices. Topics discussed included: HSIA pricing, guestroom concierge solutions, mobile communication tools and more.

 


The “Solving Networking & Connectivity Challenges” panel, hosted by Cihan Cobanoglu, Ph.D., professor and graduate coordinator,
University of South Florida, included executives from Thayer Lodging Group, CTF Development Inc., and Benchmark Hospitality International, and addressed a number of hotel networking woes, from bandwidth demands to cell phone connectivity.

 
Additional sessions included:
  • “Revenue Management thru Technology & Vision,” with Kathleen Cullen, corporate director of revenue strategies for Heritage Hotels & Resorts
  •  “2011 Lodging Study: First Look at Landmark Study,” with Abigail Lorden, editor-in-chief, Hospitality Technology; and Mehmet Erdem, PhD, CHTP, assistant professor, Hotel College, UNLV
  •  “Technology to Improve Customer Service” workshop with Fred Crespo, vice president of information technology, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts; and John Prusnick, director, IT innovation and strategy, Hyatt Hotels Corporation
  • “Integration Struggles & Strategies” workshop with John Gowers, IT Director, Blue Mountain Resorts; and Terry Price, CPA, CHAE, CHTP, chief information officer, The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa
  • “PCI Compliance & Beyond” workshop with Nelson F. Garrido, CHTP, VP of information technology, Noble Investment Group; and Douglas C. Rice, executive vice president and CEO, Hotel Technology Next Generation
Award winners
The 2011 Hotel Technology Forum also featured the annual presentation of the Hotel Visionary Awards, which honor hotel companies for their vision and achievement in delivering technological excellence. The awards for Infrastructure and Back-office Technology Innovator were presented to Choice Hotels International for its proprietary PMS, and Galt House Hotel for a comprehensive project that has transformed its revenue management, sales and CRM capabilities. The awards for Customer-facing/In-room Technology Innovator were presented to Morgans Hotel Group for an in-room virtual concierge system, and Royal Caribbean for a network of digital signage solutions onboard its Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas cruise ships (for the full story, plus winner videos, click here).
 
A full agenda for the 2012 Hotel Technology Forum will be available online in late 2011 at htmagazine.com.

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