Hospitality Technology (HT) magazine is proud to announce the winners of the 2019 Hotel Visionary Awards. The Hotel Visionary awards honor hotel companies for outstanding achievement, vision and leadership in technological innovation.
Every year, HT honors a select group of lodging companies for outstanding achievement in delivering technological excellence. This year’s awards were presented on April 10 during HT-NEXT at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside hotel in New Orleans, La. HT-NEXT combines HT’s Hotel Technology Forum and HTNG North America into one immersive networking and educational event for hotel executives and solution providers. The HT-NEXT Awards program, underwritten by Datatrend, includes the HTNG TechOvation awards and the Hotel Visionary Awards.
“Hospitality is at the forefront of the new crusade for customized convenience and this year’s Visionary Award winners prove that,” Dorothy Creamer, editor of Hospitality Technology, says. “As guests and employees seek streamlined and effective methods for communicating and receiving or providing service, hotel companies recognize the need to leverage technology in smarter and more efficient ways. This year’s winners showcase how being willing to embrace innovation from artificial intelligence to a hyper-focus on integration can yield big business benefits.”
The Hotel Visionary Awards, now celebrating 15 years, are presented in two categories: enterprise innovation and customer-facing innovation.
“Datatrend is proud to sponsor another year of HT-NEXT Visionary Awards and congratulate the 2019 winners. Hospitality technology and innovation continues to be essential in improving the guest experience,” said Rob Graves, Vice President of Datatrend Technologies. “The Visionary Awards are important to Datatrend, as our focus is to help enhance business outcomes for organizations in this space. The types of advancements displayed today are exciting to see and add major value to the hospitality technology sector.”
The 2019 Visionary Award Winners
Between 2014 and 2018, IHG replaced its legacy guest reservations system, upgraded its revenue management system, developed and stood up a completely new technology architecture, created a common user interface across multiple applications, and rolled out these innovations to the entire IHG estate of more than 5,600 hotels in more than 100 countries. Not only did IHG accomplish this complex transformation, but did so while aggressively growing its business year-over-year, garnering Enterprise Innovator honors.
Built on a new, flexible infrastructure that future proofs IHG’s technology platform, IHG Concerto™ creates efficiencies when upgrading or adding new systems, and provides the scalability to grow in line with the business. This is more than simply a technology platform shift to cloud. IHG Concerto is a fundamental shift in the way IHG delivers hotel solutions to users – incorporating guest reservations and revenue management systems, and other capabilities into a single, seamless hotel management tool. A key solution within IHG Concerto is the next-generation guest reservation system created with Amadeus that delivers a powerful global platform for hotels to manage guest interaction that’s intuitive for hotel teams, and will help IHG accelerate work to revolutionize and personalize the guest experience through technology.
“IHG is thrilled to be honored with the HT-NEXT 2019 Visionary Award. We’ve been a leader in hospitality technology since the 1960’s when we first introduced automated reservation systems, and the rollout of IHG Concerto continues that tradition," said Craig Eister, Senior Vice President, Global Revenue Management, IHG. "In a little over three years, IHG totally transformed our hotel technology — from reimaging our technology infrastructure, partnering with Amadeus to build and replace our guest reservations system, to designing and delivering a new hotel user experience to our over 5,600 hotels globally. Huge accomplishments like this are the result of hard work done by thousands of people across the business. Winning this award recognizes that unified vision and determination.”
THE COSMOPOLITAN OF LAS VEGAS
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, a Customer Experience Innovator winner, prides itself on being one of the largest "boutique" hotels in the world. While it has more than 3,000 rooms, its goal is for guests to receive the same attention and personalization on property as they would at a small-scale hotel. To do this, the resort sought to add a digital touchpoint to create a direct relationship with guests. Enter Rose, the sassy chatbot that uses artificial intelligence and a natural language processing-based platform in conjunction with Reply.ai.
Developed by The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas and its digital agency R/GA Chicago, Rose is available to guests as both an SMS and online chat service powered by more than 1,000 automations as well as long-time guest service and concierge employees. In the first year of incremental rollout, 15,000 guests texted Rose and more than 70% were “highly engaged,” converting to guests interaction with Rose on more than three separate text messages – far exceeding the goal of 45%. The guests who use her also tend to spend quite a bit more while at the resort versus those who don’t. Guests who used Rose were 33 percent more satisfied with their stay based on guest feedback and spent an average of 15 percent more while on property.
“In terms of technology innovation at The Cosmopolitan, the guest experience, including accessibility and personalized service, is what drives our thought process,” said Tom Evans, Chief Marketing Officer at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. “For our guests, that means having a low friction interaction and personal, almost VIP host-like service to bolster the resort experience, which for us, means providing a distinctly tailored, boutique level of service at scale. In our continued effort to keep the resort at the forefront of technology -- whether through the instinctive, personalized settings on our website, or the convenience of texting our chatbot Rose to deliver Identity members their status and available offers -- technology has given us the ability to serve our guests at an even higher level than before.”
Hyatt, a Customer Experience Innovator winner, recognized that guests expect to consume content in a hotel room the same way they do at home and collaborated with SONIFI to offer guests a consistent, uncomplicated path for streaming their content in the hotel guestroom using the STAYCAST streaming solution powered by Google Chromecast.
Through this platform, Hyatt provides guests with the ability to stream content from 2,000+ apps to the in-room TV using the World of Hyatt iOS or Android mobile apps as the control. Guests do not need to enter personal information; they simply pair their mobile device to the in-room TV. STAYCAST will be available in the majority of Hyatt’s more than 850 properties in more than 60 countries by the end of 2019. Hyatt plans to use this platform to further enhance the in-room entertainment experience.
“At Hyatt, we care for people so they can be their best and delivering a highly personalized experience is one way our focus on care comes to life for guests. As it relates to in-room entertainment, today’s travelers are interested in having the same content available to them at our hotels as they do at home. Through our work with SONIFI’s STAYCAST solution, travelers can stream their own content directly to the in-room TV through the World of Hyatt mobile app, providing a more seamless end-to-end experience,” said Jeff Bzdawka, senior vice president, Global Hotel Technology at Hyatt. “With STAYCAST, we are able to offer an experience that feels personalized to each of our guests and we are honored to be recognized by Hospitality Technology as we continue to find more ways to elevate our in-room entertainment offerings.”
CHOICE HOTELS INTERNATIONAL
Enterprise Innovator award winner, Choice Hotels International has more than 7,000 franchised hotels in more than 40 countries and territories. Prior to 2018, the company was running on a 27-year-old CRS, created before the advent of e-commerce. Choice Hotels knew its current CRS would not carry the company into the future. So, Choice made the decision to develop a new cloud-based GRS (global reservation system) platform in-house: choiceEDGE. Using Amazon Web Services (AWS) as its cloud platform provider, Choice was able to develop an entirely new platform based on modern technologies and techniques from the ground up, leveraging technologies available in AWS. This micro-service-based platform includes sophisticated DevOps facilities for continuous integration and deployment of new software, high-volume message processing, system health and statistics monitoring, tagging and tracking specific service calls, and machine learning to provide a more personalized experience for customers. The company migrated hotels gradually onto the GRS, allowing the legacy and the new system to run at the same time, ensuring minimal hotel downtime and without customers knowing it was happening.
Since its deployment, Choice Hotels has seen remarkable results. Its single property shopping service is performing roughly 50 percent faster than on the legacy CRS. It is delivering more availability status, rates, and inventory updates to third parties than ever before, and its unintentional overbooking incidents are down by 80 percent. In 2018, Choice Hotels’ systems experienced extremely high volume at the peak of summer travel season, but thanks to choiceEDGE, the systems handled the increased demand seamlessly and with record uptime, allowing the company to beat the prior year’s record for revenue processed in a single day by nearly $1 million, with approximately $25 million in revenue earned. During a period of 12 months, it completed more than 20 new external partner interfaces, all of which are using the most current partner interface specifications, and which historically, would have taken months per individual partner.
“Hospitality Technology Magazine is a leading technology resource that highlights the industry’s most innovative projects, so we’re thrilled to accept this prestigious award,” said Brian Kirkland, chief technology officer, Choice Hotels. “Our team tirelessly dedicated themselves to the development of choiceEDGE — the largest, most ambitious technology project in our company’s history, which resulted in the industry’s most advanced global reservation system and distribution platform. The system improved our stability, scalability, and performance to meet both guest and franchisee needs, while positioning Choice for future opportunities.”
Past Visionary Award Winners Include:
· Hilton (2018)
· Nordic Choice Hotels (2018)
· Caesars Entertainment (2018)
· Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts (2018)
· EAST, Miami (2018)
· Hyatt (2017)
· NH Hotel Group (2017)
· La Quinta Inns and Suites (2017)
· Watermark Luxe Waterfront Cottages (2017)
· Grand View Lodge (2016)
· Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide (2016)
· Hilton Worldwide (2015)
· Fontainebleau Hotel (2015)
· SilverBirch Hotels & Resorts (2015)
· Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group (2014)
· La Quinta Inns & Suites (2014)
· Red Lion Hotels (2014)
· Hyatt Hotels (2013)
· Red Roof Inns (2013)
· Choice Hotels (2013)
· Conrad Hotels & Resorts (2013)
· Hilton Worldwide (2012)
· LaQuinta Inns & Suites (2012)
· Gaylord Entertainment (2012)
· Flamigo Las Vegas (2012)
· Choice Hotels International (2011)
· Morgans Hotel Group (2011)
· Galt House Hotel (2011)
· Royal Caribbean (2011)
· CityCenter (2010)
· Courtyard by Marriott (2010)
· JHM Hotels Group (2010)
· InterContinental Hotels Group (2009)
· Harrah’s Entertainment (2009)
· Hyatt Place (2009)
· Thayer Lodging Group (2009)
· MTM Luxury Lodging (2008)
· The Peninsula Hotels (2008)
· Fairmont Hotels & Resorts (2008)
· Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group (2007)
· Ginn Resorts (2007)
· Hilton Hotels Corporation (2007)
· Rosewood Hotels & Resorts (2006)
· Harrah’s Entertainment (2006)
· MGM Mirage (2006)
· Wyndham International (2005)
· Sea Island Company (2005)
· Marriott International (2005)
· Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group (2005)
· Hyatt International (2005)
About Hospitality Technology
Hospitality Technology (HT) is the only publication dedicated to covering the role of information technology in improving business performance for hotel and restaurant operators. The Hospitality Technology portfolio includes: a print publication that publishes eight times annually and reaches more than 16,000 hospitality industry executives, three networking and educational events (MURTEC, HT-NEXT and MURTEC Executive Summit), a comprehensive website, e-newsletters, web seminars, and several exclusive annual reports and studies. Visit Hospitality Technology online a thttp://www.hospitalitytech.com. Hospitality Technology is published by Chicago-based EnsembleIQ.
EnsembleIQ is the leading business intelligence platform serving the retail, consumer goods, health care, food service; pharmacy and hospitality industries focused on helping customers solve big problems and inspiring bold ideas. EnsembleIQ operates an integrated network of media brands across all retail sectors and leverages its scale to inform, connect and provide actionable marketplace intelligence to help clients achieve growth. Visithttp://www.ensembleiq.com.
EnsembleIQ is a portfolio company of RFE Investment Partners, a private equity investor with more than 30 years of experience investing in growth companies in partnership with strong management teams. Visit http://www.rfeip.com.
About Datatrend Technologies
Datatrend Technologies helps companies leverage technology solutions to drive business outcomes with a focus on delivering technology infrastructure solutions from the data center to the edge of the network. Datatrend provides planning, design, implementation, integration, project management, and staffing for next-generation data centers and multi-cloud environments, cabling and wireless solutions for multi-site rollouts and the Internet of Things, as well as for ISVs, OEMs, and service providers. Datatrend leverages partnerships with the best global manufacturers, along with deep engineering talent, to deliver solutions throughout the technology lifecycle. For additional information visit https://www.datatrend.com.