News Briefs

  • 2/19/2024

    Hyatt Announces New Americas Organizational Structure and Senior Leadership Appointments

    As a result of strong growth in the Americas region, Hyatt announced new senior leadership appointments in the Americas region and subregional structure designed to further support Hyatt’s continued focus on growth, operational excellence and performance optimization within its largest region. With this new organizational structure, Hyatt’s Americas region is now comprised of two subregions: U.S. & Canada and Latin America & the Caribbean (LAC), led by two newly appointed subregional presidents, respectively: Susan Santiago and Gabriel Felip who both report to Pete Sears, Group President, Americas, effective January 2024.

    In her new role as President, U.S. & Canada, Santiago is responsible for the growth and performance optimization of Hyatt’s owned and managed portfolio. She is in her 32nd year with Hyatt and has held numerous positions leading operational performance, most recently as Senior Vice President of Hyatt’s Lifestyle Division and Miraval brand.

    As President, Latin America & Caribbean, Felip leads operational performance for all managed and owned Hyatt hotels in the region across all brands, including Hyatt’s Inclusive Collection. Felip is an industry veteran with more than 30 years of hospitality and tourism experience and previously served as Hyatt’s Group President of Inclusive Collection Global Operations.

    “Our new Americas structure enables us to further support our hotel teams and owners in more customized, regionalized ways – and this is designed to help us continue driving strong results through intentional and sustainable growth for the region,” said Sears. “With these changes, we continue our momentum in positioning Hyatt as the preferred hospitality brand, delivering meaningful and memorable experiences for guests and driving results for our owners.”

    Included in the Americas’ new subregional structure are three newly created roles within the operations, commercial services and finance functions, respectively: Yvette Martinez-Edwards has been promoted to Senior Vice President, Field Operations, Luxury & Miraval, reporting to Santiago, Shyla Gardner re-joins Hyatt as Vice President, Commercial Services, Latin America & the Caribbean, reporting to Asad Ahmed, Senior Vice President, Commercial Services, Americas, and Juan Pablo Puerta now serves as Senior Vice President, Finance, Latin America & the Caribbean, reporting to Liz Bauer, Senior Vice President, Finance, Americas.

    With a dedicated focus on driving operational excellence within Hyatt’s luxury brands, Martinez-Edwards oversees Hyatt’s managed luxury and Miraval hotel portfolio for the Americas region. Most recently, Martinez-Edwards served as Vice President of Field Operations where she led a group of full-service Timeless Collection properties in the East region. She also previously led Hyatt’s sales strategy in Latin America & the Caribbean, and for the Miraval brand.

    Gardner leads a cross-functional LAC Commercial Services team that provides a specialized commercial strategy for the LAC market and further develops strong brand stories that embrace Hyatt’s culture and key differentiators for Hyatt’s full LAC portfolio, including the Inclusive Collection. Prior to this role, Gardner acted as Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Playa Resorts and previously served as an Area Director of Sales and Marketing in Mexico for Hyatt.

    To further support Hyatt’s intentional long-term growth strategy, Puerta is responsible for leading the finance function and driving property performance optimization throughout Latin America & the Caribbean. Puerta also continues to lead the function for Hyatt’s Inclusive Collection in the region. Prior to this role, Puerta served as the CFO of Apple Leisure Group.

  • 2/19/2024

    Zouk Group Selects UrVenue as Technology Partner

    digital handshake

    Zouk Group, a global lifestyle brand specializing in nightlife, entertainmentand dining, has selected UrVenue,as its global technology partner, expanding their current partnership to Zouk Group’s nightlife venues in Singapore, Japan, and Malaysia.

     Zouk Group and UrVenue first became partners in 2021 with the opening of Zouk Nightclub, AYU Dayclub, FUHU restaurant, and RedTail social gaming bar, all of which are located within Resorts World Las Vegas, a 3,500-room luxury resort on the Las Vegas Strip.

    Founded in 2011, UrVenue debuted as an e-commerce solution, selling advance tickets and table reservations at Las Vegas’ largest and most complex nightclubs and dayclubs. UrVenue’s technology followed an organic evolution to become a robust commerce, operations, and guest experience platform for individual venues and for hotels and resorts with pools, beaches, sportsbooks, bars, lounges, restaurants, recreation, and more.

    Zouk Group Las Vegas was the inaugural client to utilize UrVenue’s two-way integration with OpenTable and its Itinerary Builder feature, which enabled unified booking of Zouk nightclub and Ayu Dayclub, whose inventory is managed in UrVenue, and FUHU and Redtail restaurants, whose inventory is managed in OpenTable. By enabling this cross-booking of experiences in a single shopping cart, Zouk increased conversion rate and the total order value of each purchase.   In 2023, Zouk Group Las Vegas also became the first client to use UrVenue’s new inventory distribution capability, enabling 3rd party resellers to sell Zouk’s live inventory in real time.

    The expanded global partnership with Zouk Group now includes the use of UrVenue at Zouk’s Singapore venues, Phuture, Capital, and its namesake venue Zouk, as well as its newest venue Zouk Tokyo, inside the prestigious Ginza Hotel by Granbell.

    Zouk Group selected UrVenue because of its advanced commerce, operations, and guest experience features, including VIP table management, club and festival ticketing, interactive 3D booking maps, and unified booking for upselling and cross-selling experiences.  These features earned Zouk and UrVenue recognition as a finalist for the  Skift IDEA Awards in 2021.  Other cutting-edge capabilities Zouk is leveraging include automated price yielding for better revenue management, 3rd party distribution of experiences, and unique payment capabilities such as deposits on food and beverage minimums and full pre-payments online across different countries and currencies. UrVenue also partnered with Zouk Group to create a digital, e-commerce hub and is developing and maintaining a new, modern website for Zouk Group's global lifestyle brand.

  • 2/15/2024

    Smokey Bones Updates Loyalty Program

    Smokey Bones dining room 2024

    Smokey Bones, owned by FAT (Fresh. Authentic. Tasty.) Brands Inc. unveiled its new and improved Bones Club loyalty program. The revamped program offers guests an instant reward upon joining, exclusive ongoing deals and offers, the opportunity to earn valuable points to be redeemed towards future purchases, and special surprise and delight features. 

    After enrolling guests receive an instant $5 reward and 50 Bones Club points to use on a future visit, and they earn five points for every dollar spent. Points are redeemable for favorite food items, as well as get access to exclusive features, including drink specials, limited time offers, birthday treats, and other promos reserved. 

    “In a time where guests are placing increasing value on exceptional experiences, we're thrilled to introduce our refreshed Bones Club. The enhanced program is customizable and better in tune with our guests’ desires, allowing it to work harder for them – and thereby inspire true loyalty,” said Cole Robillard, Chief Marketing Officer at Smokey Bones. “The Bones Club is our way of recognizing our most engaged and important guests, providing exclusive offers and privileges designed to resonate with meat lovers and eating out enthusiasts alike, thus amplifying the impact of every dollar they spend at our restaurants.”

    Current Bones Club members will experience a seamless and automatic update to their program with no action for any additional steps. 


  • 2/15/2024

    Arlo Hotel's Loyalty App Turns Social Media Influencers into Travel Agents

    Arlo Chicago Hotel Room

    Are influencers the next generation of travel agents? Arlo Hotels, an independent, experience-driven lifestyle hotel brand with properties in New York, Miami and Chicago, and Washington D.C. launching in 2024, is further innovating the hospitality industry with the launch of their If You Arlo app. The unique loyalty program ushers in a new era of travel where traditional travel agents are superseded by social media agents composed of influencers, friends & family, and content creators who creatively drive bookings while earning perks along the way. Through the If You Arlo (IYA) app, influencers can share insider discounts and tips with their followers while being rewarded with credits, status, and surprise rewards at any of the Arlo Hotels.

    [Related Content: @hotel describes itself as an OTA for Instagram and has found that social media is the perfect spot to find, attract and market to valuable leisure consumers.]

    According to a recent survey, 83% of millennials said they are more likely to book a hotel after seeing images from someone they follow on social media. Social media is the number one medium to influence travelers’ decisions. Arlo Hotels is carving its path to acknowledge and reward those who truly drive their guests’ decision-making process.

    “Social influencers are a new class of travel agents, but they have lacked the infrastructure to make it actionable - until now,” explains Jimmy Suh, chief commercial officer at Arlo Hotels. “Travel is tailor-made for socially driven commerce. Our aim with the If You Arlo app is to offer influencers an opportunity to capitalize on their passion for travel and Arlo Hotels. We recognize that many of our guests’ decisions stem from the folks they follow and trust, i.e. their social network. With the app, we can now understand who these folks are and reward them for it. We’re also very community-driven, and if we can offer our community a program to pay it forward by offering their friends and followers exclusive discounts, it’s a win-win.”

    Independent, lifestyle hotels are at a disadvantage compared to big chain hotel brands as they do not have the distribution reach. Further, independent hotels rely heavily on online travel agents (OTAs) for much of their distribution. OTA’s do not offer the consumers the insight of the unique stay experiences that many of the lifestyle hotels, such as Arlo Hotels, offer to their guests. Social media can level the playing field between independent hotels and big chain brands while offering more relevant information about the hotels. If You Arlo app capitalizes on both opportunities and along the way paves a unique path to a powerful new distribution channel.

  • 2/15/2024

    Lighthouse Expands Into Distribution With Acquisition of Stardekk

    lighthouse and stardekk logos

    Lighthouse (formerly OTA Insight), a commercial platform for the travel & hospitality industry, announced the acquisition of Belgian-based Stardekk, a market leading provider of channel management and distribution software for the hospitality industry. This move represents another advancement in Lighthouse's commitment to empowering hospitality commercial teams with a single platform to drive revenue growth.

    The merger will create a unified technology platform, combining Lighthouse's data and artificial intelligence with Stardekk's distribution reach, offering hoteliers unprecedented dynamic channel optimization. The combined offering will streamline real-time decision-making in a rapidly evolving market, particularly benefiting independent hotels by providing advanced distribution tools and pricing insights to drive top line revenue growth.

    "We are delighted to welcome Stardekk to our team," said Sean Fitzpatrick, CEO of Lighthouse. "Their innovative solutions and team complement our mission to reimagine commercial strategy for the hospitality industry. Together, we will deliver unmatched value to independent hoteliers through the combination of better data, better automation, and dynamic distribution.”

    Focus on independent hotels

    While the Lighthouse platform serves travel and hospitality businesses of all sizes, from independents to the largest global chains, this acquisition specifically targets the underserved sector of independent hotels. “Our ideal customer profile for this solution is independent hoteliers who are time starved and overwhelmed managing disparate systems and data," added Fitzpatrick.

    Addressing market fragmentation

    The hotel industry has long been hampered by a fragmented approach to pricing, promotion, and distribution, often leaving independent hoteliers at a disadvantage with disjointed data and systems. Lighthouse aims to bridge these gaps, offering an intelligent channel management solution for independent hotels that combines dynamic pricing optimization and distribution decisions in a single platform, driving top-line revenue growth and profitability.

    Harnessing the power of AI and automation

    With a unique understanding of the challenges faced by independents in an increasingly complex distribution landscape, the combined forces of Lighthouse and Stardekk will deliver an industry-first solution. Independent hotels often lack the time, data, and budgets to compete with larger chains. This acquisition will combine the expertise of Lighthouse and Stardekk in their use of data, AI algorithms, and automation to offer hoteliers unprecedented capabilities to more effectively and efficiently optimize their commercial strategies.

    A shared vision for hoteliers 

    Vincent Goemaere, founder and CEO of Stardekk, commented, "Joining forces with Lighthouse marks a significant milestone in our journey. We've always been dedicated to empowering hoteliers with easy to use, powerful tools. This merger not only aligns with our vision but expands our joint capabilities, offering immense value to independent hoteliers who need to stay competitive in rapidly changing markets, by driving revenue and profitability. The potential we can unlock together is incredibly exciting."

    Together, Lighthouse and Stardekk are poised to redefine the distribution landscape for independent hoteliers worldwide, ushering in a new era of innovation, efficiency, and competitiveness. It's a move that promises to level the playing field in a rapidly changing market.

  • 2/14/2024

    Apaleo Sets ‘New Record’ for Tech Rollout

    apaleo logo
    Apaleo has set a new benchmark for tech adoption after moving all 7,500 rooms at operator citizenM's US and European operations to its property management platform in under two months.
    The Dutch-based hotel brand has just completed the switch at sites located in 18 cities around the world. All this happened in the space of just eight weeks, with the Apaleo team managing to roll out multiple properties per day.
    PMS migrations have traditionally been highly difficult to execute, but the teams at Apaleo and citizenM believe this will have been the fastest onboarding for any mid-sized hotel group to date, owing to modern, self-service architecture, plug-and-play onboarding, and scalable project management. 
    Together, citizenM and Apaleo, worked as partners on state-of-the-art program management that unlocked the ability to take multiple properties live simultaneously, following successful data migration from legacy systems and the complete change of the tech stack. The migration included every citizenM hotel in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Copenhagen, Geneva, Glasgow, London, Paris, Rome, Zurich, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Miami, Austin, Seattle and Washington DC. Significantly, all of the installations were remotely managed without going on site for any aspect of the implementation.
    Mike Rawson, CIO of citizenM, commented: “The migration was a hugely ambitious project, requiring very detailed planning for many hotels across the globe. Compared to any other PMS of similar size and scope, it was the quickest implementation ever witnessed in our industry. Our congratulations go to our fantastic citizenM team and to everyone at Apaleo, who have proven to be such valuable partners.”
    “Our decision to adopt an API-first platform is futureproofing our business and guaranteeing our ability to move with the times and create exactly the kind of guest experience we want for our guests. Beyond a mere PMS migration, our initiative embraces numerous components and leverages the Apaleo Store to enhance our service capabilities.”
    Philip von Ditfurth, Co-founder and Managing Director of Apaleo, added: “For years, citizenM has been associated with pushing the boundaries of what technology can achieve in hospitality, so it was only logical that we would eventually join forces. The team at citizenM are as passionate as we are about the transformational power of digitisation and personalisation. They want to stay ahead of the game with a digital guest journey that is unique and helps define them as a brand, and we’re going to help deliver that. This project was important because it also demonstrated to other operators labouring under the weight of legacy PMS systems that implementation time is no longer a reason to delay modernisation. It’s now a seamless process with no business interruption.”
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