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Hyatt, La Quinta, NH Hotel Group and Watermark Luxe Waterfront Cottages Named 2017 Hotel Visionary Award Winners

Hospitality Technology (HT) magazine has announced the winners of the 2017 Hotel Visionary Awards. The Visionary Awards, being underwritten by Datatrend as part of the HT-NEXT Awards program also including the TechOvation awards, seek to 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 presentation took place at the inaugural HT-NEXT (April 10–13 at the Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Fla.). HT-NEXT is the first industry-leading event uniting HT’s Hotel Technology Forum and HTNG North America into one immersive networking and educational event for hotel executives and solution providers.
The Hotel Visionary Awards, now celebrating 13 years, are presented in two categories: enterprise innovation and customer-facing innovation. In order to ensure that companies from across the industry are recognized for their efforts, consideration is given to size, resources and individual market segment benchmarks. Winners are selected by HT editorial staff and members of the HT advisory board on a basis of thought leadership, execution and forward-thinking vision.
“This year’s Visionary Award winners exemplify innovation in the name of efficiency and service,” said Dorothy Creamer, editor, Hospitality Technology. “Each of this year’s honorees identified specific areas where friction could be eradicated from operations and the guest experience. The needs they addressed speak to the larger trends happening in the industry as all companies seek to offer seamless, personalized experiences for today’s digital, always-connected guest. HT is privileged to recognize these companies for their outstanding achievements.”
The 2017 Visionary Award Winners

Hyatt was selected as an Enterprise Innovator for its development of Colleague Advantage, a single web-based screen that integrates tools and tasks from a vast number of internal systems. With Colleague Advantage, Hyatt colleagues no longer need to toggle between screens and tasks are streamlined, whether it’s searching a guest name (even if the guest arrived at a different property than where they booked their reservation), identifying if the guest is a return guest or a frequent guest, enrolling guests in the World of Hyatt loyalty program, confirming the status of all room requests, finding the best room based on the guest’s room preferences, letting guests know where their next meeting is if they are attending an event, and more. The tight level of integration into a single application reduces the complexity of training new colleagues from days to hours, and it allows them to focus less on the technology and more on making human connections. It has created a "heads up" experience instead of heads down experience, turning a transaction into an interaction.
“Different technologies and too many steps for our front desk colleagues often resulted in an unnatural, almost scripted guest conversation,” said Jeff Bzdawka, senior vice president – global hotel technology, Hyatt. “Colleague Advantage has enabled us to transform the front desk experience, using technology to facilitate an environment where our colleagues don’t have to be heads down in countless keystrokes and can instead do what they do best: connect with people in a human, personal way.”
NH Hotel Group received Enterprise Innovator honors for its Digital Core Platform. In 2014, NH’s IT structure was a non-integrated system with high maintenance and evolution costs; unable to provide the company with a sole vision of its clientele, to generate efficiencies in its support processes or to maximize the full potential of the economies of scale present in a company of its size. Furthermore, the Group’s IT structures were not in line with technological evolution. Its then functioning systems were not open, which made the integration with other systems impossible and seriously hindered its capacity to develop collaborative models with the third parties involved in its value chain. NH set out to create a “digital core platform,” which it accomplished through the creation of an open, above-property system that offers a single view of data and modular design.
Due to the transformational nature of this plan, NH has been able to innovate in all areas of its value chain. This includes offering a web service that allows guests to choose their own room and implements a “pre-identification algorithm of guests.” This provides hotels with updated information and preferences of all repeat customers (regardless of whether they belong to NH’s loyalty program or what channel they used to make their booking). NH is now also able to modify its hotel prices up to 48 times a day for each of its channels. The service also empowers the company to re-evaluate its forecast and pricing strategy every 30 minutes. Overall, by the end of 2016, NH’s achievement of the targets set at hotel level was 93.8%. 
“I would like to thank Hospitality Technology for this amazing recognition which has been possible thanks to the commitment and the enormous effort made by each of our hotel and central teams to transform our company’s systems,” said Rufino PÉrez, executive managing director resources, NH Hotel Group. “We are proud of having been able to successfully implement something which is not a common practice in our industry, and that has allowed us to move from the 'single data view' paradigm to a 'single view of data' in all processes through the use of a unique platform common to all NH Hotel Group hotels.”
La Quinta Inns and Suites was chosen as a Customer-Facing Innovator for its "Redeem Away!" addition to its loyalty program called La Quinta Returns. Redeem Away allows its Returns members to redeem La Quinta Returns points any time for everyday purchases with their linked Visa credit card and mobile phone. To activate, a Returns member links an eligible Visa credit card and mobile phone number to the member's La Quinta Returns account. After the member makes a qualifying in-store or online purchase with the linked Visa credit card, a text notification is immediately sent to the member's mobile phone, inviting the member to redeem La Quinta Returns points for that purchase. By responding "yes," points are deducted from the member's La Quinta Returns account and a credit for the purchase amount is received on the linked Visa credit card statement in approximately 10 days. The solution is powered by a set of services developed on La Quinta’s new RESTful Web services based API framework. These are used as the integration and communication framework to deliver the completely mobile text-based customer interaction experience. The services also serve as the integration channel to VISA systems and La Quinta’s Loyalty platform. The system was deployed in pilot mode during September 2016 and full deployment began in November 2016. As of January 20, almost 1,800 customers have signed up for the service and more than 5 million points have been redeemed through the system.
“We are very proud that La Quinta continues to be recognized as an industry leader when it comes to innovation.  With Redeem Away! we are encouraging our La Quinta Returns members to engage with the brand more often, while on the go.  The enhanced La Quinta Returns program offers a wider array of benefits that appeal to all types of travelers,” said Keith Cline, president and chief executive officer at La Quinta.  “In addition, our data shows that members who engage with the loyalty program by redeeming their points for stays or every day purchases, have a higher propensity to come back and stay with La Quinta again. Building that kind of loyalty is especially important in our highly competitive industry.”
Watermark Luxe Waterfront Cottages was chosen as a Customer-Facing Innovator for implementing technology that allows an unstaffed property to operate seamlessly.  From keyless entry to offering personalized experiences, Watermark created a technology ecosystem to maintain efficient operations while servicing guests all without a staff present and did so all within a year. To establish its program, Watermark identified the needs and wants of its guests including safety and access; required guest/management interaction; bookings & payment; and add-on services. Starting with mobile keys, Watermark also addressed its booking system, selecting a cloud-based PMS that provided a unique customer web location where unique codes for each reservation could be included.
"Our goal was to use technology to help engage the guest, provide the highest level of service, but also meet our needs from a business standpoint. The results have been positive from both sides of the equation. It is a great honor to be recognized for this,” said David Barton, president, Waterfront Luxe Waterfront Cottages.
Past Visionary Award Winners Include:
·         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 editorial portfolio includes: a print publication that publishes nine 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 at www.hospitalitytech.comHospitality Technology is published by Chicago-based EnsembleIQ.
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