Courtyard by Marriott, JHM Hotels & CityCenter Honored for Innovation at 2010 Hotel Technology Forum

Each year, Hospitality Technology (HT) magazine presents a select group of lodging companies with its Hotel Visionary Awards. These awards honor hotel companies for their outstanding vision and achievement in technology and service innovation. Winning companies are chosen based on their vision and execution; consideration is given to size, resources and individual market segment benchmarks to ensure that companies from across the lodging industry are recognized for their efforts. The 2010 Hotel Visionary Awards go to: Courtyard by Marriott, JHM Hotels, and CityCenter.

Hospitality Technology received nominations for nearly 40 individual hotel companies, covering everything from sustainability to excellence in guest service, from in-room technologies to back-of-house system integration. The nomination pool was comprised of both corporate hotel brands and management companies from all size and market segments. Winners are judged by HT editorial staff on a basis of innovation, thought leadership, execution, and forward-thinking vision, and announced at the Hotel Technology Forum on Thursday, April 22, 2010. (The Forum is a three-day networking and educational event, scheduled April 21-23, 2010 at the Mandarin Oriental in CityCenter, Las Vegas, that brings together executives from leading hotel companies to share strategies and tactics for using technology to achieve operational excellence and exceed guest expectations.)

About this year's winners
Courtyard by Marriott was chosen for its innovation in responding to travelers' needs. The brand redesigned its lobbies to incorporate interactive digital signage as a centerpiece. Dubbed GoBoard, the LCD touch screen displays were developed specifically for Courtyard by technology partners Microsoft and Four Winds Interactive, and feature live news feeds from USA TODAY, airport and area information, way-finding, maps via Microsoft Virtual Earth, and more. Since completing the lobby redesign and deploying GoBoard, Courtyard reports a 10 percent rise in guest satisfaction scores and a 27 percent increase in intent-to-return scores. The project has helped Courtyard increase market share by 7.5 percent since deployment.

"We had a lot of fun putting this project together. FourWinds Interactive was our technology partner on this solution they did a great job of really taking our conceptual designs and turning [them] into something that worked out well for us. It's interactive; you walk up, you touch the device, scroll through restaurants and local directions. And it is the focal point of the lobby. I am sure that the ten percent intent to return is all due to the technology," says Neil Schubert, VP, IT strategy, Marriott International Inc.

JHM Hotels, headquartered in Greenville, South Carolina, is a privately-held owner-operator of 40 hotels across such brands as Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt and Starwood. JHM Hotels was chosen based on its significant back-office innovation for a company of its size. JHM Hotels leveraged a document management solution with business intelligence that has enabled complete paperless invoicing and document storage. The technology has allowed the company to eliminate storage costs and manage labor much more efficiently, while providing full visibility into its financials for compliance and audits.

"Such awards motive us to be more create and inspire us to take advantage of technology and be more innovative in our approach. Finding documents in less than two minutes, the so called never lost docs, has been amazing for us. We processed in 2009, 44,500 invoices with a total value of more than $150 million with not a single invoice getting lost and that is because of this," says Raman (R.P.) Rama, VP & Dir. of technology & telecommunications for JHM Hotels.

Finally, CityCenter, a joint venture between MGM MIRAGE and Dubai World, is the first-ever multi-brand project to receive a Hotel Visionary Award. The LEED-certified urban community opened in late 2009 on the Las Vegas Strip. CityCenter was chosen based on not only the extensive technological innovation found throughout the complex, but for the role that partnerships, from technology vendors to hospitality companies, played in the success of the project, most notably the collaboration of MGM MIRAGE, technology vendor Control 4, and luxury hotel brand Mandarin Oriental (which opened a hotel in the complex in December 2009).

"It was the aggregate effort of MGM, our team and all of our vendors who really came together to put together what is an amazing product," says Monika Nerger VP of technology, the Americas, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group.

"IT is no longer a service, but it is a customer facing technology. I hope we are all here to help experience and achieve what brings a better experience to the ultimate goal which is that of our customers, our share holders, and our executives who every day drive that front line to make sure that our guest experiences are top notch," says John Bollen, VP of IT strategy and business engagement, CityCenter.

"We sat down with each other and looked each other in the face through this whole project and the high technology that we learned from Mandarin and the things that we found out on the street that we could pull together -- risk, stress, sweaty hands, and trust were all the things that we dealt with for the last four years and you are enjoying that product today," says Scot Campbell, SVP & CIO for MGM Mirage.

"I do want to thank Scot, we've worked on this for a long road, and all of the vendors for their tireless efforts over the last few years, especially the last nine months, as we pushed to get the doors open," says David Heckaman VP of technology & development for Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group.

"This year's Hotel Visionary Award winners showcase the great range of innovation that can be accomplished in every sector of the lodging industry," says Abigail A. Lorden, editor-in-chief of Hospitality Technology and the architect behind the awards program. "We see a family-owned management company in JHM Hotels that is tapping into technology to drastically improve and •green-up' its back-office operations. We see a business-class brand in Courtyard by Marriott that is leveraging digital signage to significantly improve the lobby experience for its guests; and we see what partnerships can accomplish, when dedication meets innovation, in CityCenter. We congratulate this year's winners. It's our honor to recognize these accomplishments."

Past visionary award winners include:

  • 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)
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