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Revamping the Travel and Hospitality Sector

Michael Marino, SVP & Chief Experience Officer, Caesars
Michael Marino, SVP & Chief Experience Officer, Caesars

Michael Marino, SVP & Chief Experience Officer, Caesars

1. In the light of your experience what are the technological trends and challenges you’ve witnessed happening with respect to the Travel and Hospitality space?

All the trends point to mobile. Mobile is being used with much greater frequency to research and book the trip. In the past, most people would research on mobile, but still book on laptop, but that’s changing rapidly. During the stay, guests expect to be able to use their phone for self-service. 

2. Could you talk about your approach to identifying the right partnership/solutions providers from the lot?

We work backwards from the “job to be done” and look for solutions which have been proven in the field to solve that specific customer experience problem. We prefer solutions which enable us to customize for our specific needs. And ideally, we prefer proven technology partners with whom we can create a platform and develop long-term relationships which expand from that platform.

3. Could you elaborate on some interesting and impactful project/initiatives that you’re currently overseeing?

The most interesting and impactful has been our chatbot Ivy, powered by GoMoment. Ivy is live in over 14,000 of our hotel rooms around the country including Caesars Palace, Nobu Hotel, The Linq, The Cromwell, Planet Hollywood, Harrah’s Las Vegas, Harrah’s Southern California, Harrah’s New Orleans and Horseshoe Bossier City. Ivy is a digital concierge who can service all guest needs through text. She books restaurants, shows, and provides guest services including extra towels or a shaving kit. She also has been known to provide recommendations on everything from the best sushi in town to what to wear on a Friday night.

 We prefer proven technology partners with whom we can create a platform and develop long-term relationships which expand from that platform 

4. What are some of the points of discussion that go on in your leadership panel? What are the strategic points that you go by to steer the company forward?

Everything works backwards from the guest experience and the pain points that a guest might feel during their visit. We try to identify these opportunities and identify technology solutions which can solve the issues. 

5. Can you draw an analogy between your personality traits, hobbies and how they reflect on your leadership strategy?

I have always been extremely competitive and want to win at everything I do, but I grew up playing team sports and realize that no matter how well I play, it’s irrelevant if the team doesn’t win. I try to live that philosophy with my team to develop them so that we can all win together.

6. How do you see the evolution of the travel and Hospitality arena a few years from now with regard to some of its potential disruptions and transformations?

I think a lot of the items we are working on now will be table stakes in a few years on the technology side. Guests will demand to have control of their visit and will want immediate service in the palm of their hand.

7. What would be the single piece of advice that you could impart to a fellow or aspiring professional in your field, looking to embark on a similar venture or professional journey along the lines of your service and area of expertise?

Be persistent. It’s much easier for an operator to say no than it is to say yes. If you have an idea which you believe strongly will make a needle moving impact, don’t be afraid to work through the initial barriers to launching the idea.

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