Thinking Outside of your 'BOX'

Martin Stanton, CIO, Destination Hotels & Resorts
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Martin Stanton, CIO, Destination Hotels & Resorts

Gaining a competitive advantage by creating positive and lasting guest experiences through technology is attainable. It just takes a little creativity (idea), a modicum of assertiveness (salesmanship), mixed with an enthusiastic property (General Manager) and if capital is required, an engaged owner (funding).

"Not all ideas require heavy capital funding in order to pilot but when they do, having an open and engaged owner/partner willing to review and fund the opportunity is beneficial"

Promoting an innovative idea may be the most difficult part of the process for many of us. Notice I didn’t say “Coming up  with an innovative idea,” but “Promoting an innovative idea.” I chat with parents at my son’s baseball games, people I sit next to at the airport, friends in our neighborhood, etc and it amazes me how many great ideas are tossed out to improve upon and/ or make a process/device more efficient/useful. Some of these ideas, of course are somewhat silly and definitely “in the moment ideas”, likely to be never discussed again. However, there are those “WOW” ideas that seem to stick with you in your head. You can’t shake them. These are the innovative gems that you must promote.

You must act on your “WOW” ideas. Promoting your idea is the path to a pilot or implementation. In order to get to the  pilot/implementation phase you MUST sell your idea. Let your passion for your idea shine through. Plant seeds with anyone who will listen and become a voice for your idea. Identify sponsors and stakeholders. Within the hotel industry, securing the sponsorship of the property General Manager is essential. Winning the General Manager’s buy-in, will require more than just a brief three minute discussion. You will need to prepare documentation, outlining revenue upside, cost reductions, efficiency gains, risk mitigation, cost to implement, etc. Assuming your idea has a positive impact on one or more of the above categories, the ultimate goal is to get a hotel property to raise their hand to pilot your concept. A successful pilot with positive results will create raving fans that will advance your solution within your organization.

Not all ideas require heavy capital funding in order to pilot. However when they do, having an open and engaged owner/partner willing to review and fund the opportunity is extremely beneficial. Enough said!

Now that we’re all on the same page about some of the steps required to move past the creative phase, let me toss out a current Destination Hotels & Resorts “Outside our BOX” initiative. In mid-2013 I was traveling through various airports and noticed the number of people that continue to seek out electrical outlets to power their phones, tablets and laptops. The need for power has been trending up year over year with consumers carrying 2-3 devices, on an average, when they travel. Many airports are doing a terrific job of retrofitting existing areas with plugs, providing free standing power stations or remodeling all together and providing new electrical outlets. In almost all cases airport patrons have a power cord with them in their carry-on, leaving them only to find an electrical outlet.

My mind moved to how our hotels provide power in our public spaces (lobby, lounge, restaurants, conference areas, etc.) for our hotel guests. The hotel industry has not been creative in this area. One must also keep in mind that our hotel guests don’t typically  carry their power cord with them around the hotel. I challenged our technology leaders to identify solutions that would service the various areas. One such solution they found was a portable, battery charged, power station, with integrated cables that could be placed on a banquet/conference table during a meeting. This device called a “CharLi Charger” provides meeting attendees the ability to charge their phones/tablets in the very same room where they are attending their meeting. These same units can be used in lounges, check in area and restaurants. The units can be charged nightly by the hotel staff and then placed back on each banquet/ conference table, bar counter or lounge end table during the day. Additionally, you can customize these devices to include your organizations logo and/or marketing material.

A second power solution that the Destination Hotels & Resorts technology team identified is called the Power Tower The Power Tower is a portable unit which operates off of a 110 wall outlet; so no need to recharge nightly like the CharLi. You can also customize the graphics on the Power Tower. Vail Cascade has this device wrapped with its own logo and graphics: however properties can customize this for any in-house group meeting and move the unit as necessary. We have already seen steady use of the Power Tower during our pilot.

Both of these “Outside the BOX” initiatives required a small amount of capital, a marginal amount of internal promotion, a little change in management and properties willing to take a chance to pilot. The true measure is the feedback from our guests, which has been very positive for both solutions.

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