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Kelly MacPherson: Blending the Art & Science of Hospitality

Kelly MacPherson, Chief Technology Officer and Chief Supply Chain Officer, Union Square Hospitality Group, received HT's Top Women in Restaurant Technology Lifetime Achievement Award at MURTEC.
Kelly MacPherson says with AI , the "potential to meet and exceed guest expectations – all while improving the experience of our employees – is boundless."
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Kelly MacPherson, Chief Technology Officer and Chief Supply Chain Officer, Union Square Hospitality Group, New York, received the Top Women in Restaurant Technology Lifetime Achievement Award. 

MacPherson    was among 15 women recognized for their accomplishments at MURTEC in Las Vegas.  Hospitality Technology's Top Women in Restaurant Technology Awards, sponsored by Paerpay, are now in their seventh year.   

MacPherson has been in the restaurant business her entire life; her parents owned a restaurant and bar.  “I can say it was in my blood from a very young age,” she says.

When working for Planet Hollywood as a restaurant manager, MacPherson segued into restaurant technology. “My opening restaurant assignment was the POS onsite coordinate – remote support, i.e., the internet – was not a thing yet,” she recalls. “I didn’t have the expertise, but I had the curiosity and determination to figure it out.” 

In those early days of her career, “I found the problem-solving fascinating, and as my understanding of restaurant systems deepened, my scope at Planet Hollywood shifted from operations to technology. That operations experience became the foundation of my career in restaurant technology, instilling a passion for the transformative nature of technology and a desire to be on the frontier of growth and innovation. 

“Each role since – at Hard Rock, Restaurant Brands International, and now at Union Square Hospitality Group – has been an opportunity to expand my horizons in restaurant tech.”

Top Women

Blending the Art & Science of Hospitality

MacPherson  is passionate about using technology to blend the art and science of hospitality.0   “At its core, great hospitality – Enlightened Hospitality, as we call it at Union Square Hospitality Group– is driven by human emotions and interactions. The best applications of technology enable human connections to flourish, and the most powerful form of technology in the restaurant industry is the tech that allows stakeholders to feel cared for and connected."

“For our employees, that means developing and deploying technology that allows them to spend more time caring for our guests.” One example:using data to improve forecasting. “With analytics, we can reduce the hours our employees spend on mundane and routine tasks and avoid headaches that come with inaccurate predictions,” she explains.  “Applying this ‘science’ frees up operations teams and allows them to focus on creating the ‘art’ of a hospitable guest experience.”

Guest-Facing Technology

“For our guests, I hope to utilize technology to build deep relationships at scale,” MacPherson adds. “Technology is what enables us to create personal, memorable experiences for guests during each visit, at every restaurant – and even in between those visits.”

The Importance of Mentorship  

MacPherson credits her parents for the strong example they set for her. “I cannot think of mentorship that has been more impactful than the example my parents set for me. I owe my work ethic and determination to both,” she says. “My mother delivered babies as a nurse at the same hospital for nearly 57 years. Day or night, rain or shine: she was always there when patients needed her. Her loyalty to her patients, her colleagues, and her profession, her passion for her work, and her sheer grit and drive have shaped the way I approach both my career and my life.”

Looking back over her accomplishments to date, MacPherson says her “greatest accomplishment – and true professional passion – is mentorship. Nurturing the growth of my teams and witnessing their achievements brings me immense pride. Supporting the next generation – helping them become capable, caring, and curious leaders – is the legacy I aspire to leave at each organization I’ve been a part of.”

The Future of Data & Analytics

Looking ahead,  MacPherson says she’s excited  “to see how analytics and data will continue to shape the hospitality industry. We already know how personalization can enhance the guest experience, and that data is what makes personalization possible at any kind of scale; even with that knowledge, I believe we are just scratching the surface of bringing it to life.” 

"Using data and digital to create a true one-to-one relationship and experience for each guest is still on the horizon, and I’m eager to explore its applications: how we welcome a guest into our restaurant, make menu recommendations, engage them off-premises, and more. Moreover, technology is evolving on a near-daily basis. With increasing AI sophistication, our potential to meet and exceed guest expectations – all while improving the experience of our employees – is boundless. Leveraging these technology trends will help us create a flywheel of improved guest and employee experiences, increased frequency and satisfaction, and overall business sustainability and growth.”


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