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HT Talks Tech: Brent Hayhurst, Director of Program Development, Curator Hotel & Resort Collection

Leveraging the power of numbers, membership collective gives independent hoteliers more bargaining power, access to proven technology, and a voice in how new technologies are developed.
Brent Hayhurst, Director of Program Development, Curator Hotels & Resort Collection
Brent Hayhurst, Director of Program Development, Curator Hotels & Resort Collection
Brent Hayhurst, Director of Program Development, Curator Hotels & Resort Collection
Brent Hayhurst, Director of Program Development, Curator Hotels & Resort Collection

Launched in November 2020, Curator Hotel & Resort Collection unites independent hotels and resorts via a membership-based collection. The membership provides independents with the flexibility and freedom of choice when it comes to implementing technology solutions on property, but leverages the power of the collective membership to drive cost savings and benefits. By creating strategic contracts with technology providers, its members can reduce operating expenses and increase profitability. But Curator won’t partner with just any company that comes along. It first vets and tests the technology before naming a solution provider as a preferred vendor. This ensures its members can stay ahead of the curve, improve productivity and deliver a better guest experience.

This business model is obviously resonating with independents. In June, the company announced it had achieved its 100-member milestone (which equates to a little over 16,000 rooms). To learn more about Curator Hotel & Resort Collection, we spoke with Brent Hayhurst, Director of Program Development. As Director of Program Development, Brent Hayhurst is responsible for creating member value through preferred vendor partnerships and agreements. 

Does Curator own any proprietary hotel tech stack software and provide it to its members?

We do not create our own technology. Instead our focus is on connecting our independent hotel and resort members with vendors and solutions across the full technology landscape that we feel are best positioned to help them meet their business goals. Currently, we’ve partnered with more than 90 vendors offering around 108 master services agreements that cover 78 different categories across a hotel’s P&L. Curator is in the position where we can be that stronger voice on behalf of our members to really help them identify the tech we feel is best positioned to help them operate as an independent hotel. 

We have preferred agreements with some of the big players like Duetto, Oracle, Shiji, and Stayntouch, but we also pride ourselves on looking past the standard conventions to partner with small, emerging players that are driving new innovations and opportunities. We’re interested in harnessing the power that comes with being an early adopter within our industry. 

What criteria do you use to identify a good technology partner?

We often run a full RFP, formally evaluate the product's core features and functionality, and look at their cost structure. We also consider factors such as the implementation timeline, the onboarding process, the training process, and the product's ability to integrate with other third-party software.

Who manages the hotel/vendor relationship: Curator or each individual hotel?

Curator works with each owner/operator to identify where there’s an opportunity to partner with one of our preferred vendors. When a member signs with a vendor they establish a direct business relationship while taking advantage of established pricing and fully negotiated terms. Curator manages our relationships with these vendors at a partnership level. Our ongoing focus is on working with them to guide them on how they can better connect with our members, on which parts of their platform are really resonating with our members, and where there might be areas of opportunity to solve for competitive gaps.

What’s one tech trend you’re really excited about?

We’re seeing a lot more engagement and willingness among vendors to have collaborative conversations. It’s becoming common to see two vendors come together and partner to create a combined product. One example of this is Duetto who was an early adopter and partner with upsell provider Oaky. Duetto realized that they’d benefit from incorporating upsell opportunities into their revenue management product, so they pursued that partnership and brought it to market. 

Vendors that are working together to build a more connected ecosystem through APIs and strategic partnerships are valuable partners for independents. Independent hoteliers don’t have the opportunity to use established technology ecosystems like branded properties do. Instead it falls on them to understand how to piece different vendor’s technologies together, fine tune them, and cultivate a strong guest connection that makes the most sense for their operations. So when vendors work well together, it makes the life of an independent hotelier much easier. 

At Curator, we’re also happy to help connect our preferred vendors with each other and facilitate a conversation where we have identified an opportunity to market and operationalize a new product or concept in a way that would have been impossible or very difficult to do on their own. 

Are independent hoteliers more likely to be at the forefront of technology use?

We do have quite a few of our members who are tech-focused, innovative professionals that are really helping to drive new and interesting technologies into the hotel industry. One specific advantage that many independents have over branded properties is that they can be more flexible and have a higher risk tolerance for pursuing new technologies. 

At Curator we’re always willing to have conversations that explore new technologies. And we’re not afraid to run long-term trials or establish pilot programs to really help connect our hotels with these new technologies at the earliest of stages so that they can have a voice in how it’s developed. 

What are some of the challenges independents are facing today?

There are a few big ones that come to mind. We’re often asked: How do I create a more seamless guest experience? How can I create guest loyalty? How do I manage and leverage guest loyalty? 

Our members are trying to do things more efficiently, to be more innovative, and are really interested in delivering a fantastic guest experience. So, our goal is to help them get their questions in front of vendors and drive answers back to them and ultimately make their day-to-day lives easier.

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