2023 physical visionary awards

Nurturing a Strong Partnership: Marriott Digital Services and RealTime Reservation's Collaborative Success Story

For years, Marriott Digital Services (MDS) and RealTime Reservation have cultivated a robust partnership built on trust, adaptability and a collaborative spirit.
Michal Christine Escobar
Senior Editor, Hotels
escobar
James Holman, MDS and Shawn Tarter, RealTime Reservation
James Holman, Director Custom Products & Partnerships, Marriott Digital Services and Shawn Tarter, President, RealTime Reservation accept a 2023 Hotel Visionary Award on stage at Hotel Technology Forum.
James Holman, MDS and Shawn Tarter, RealTime Reservation
James Holman, Director Custom Products & Partnerships, Marriott Digital Services and Shawn Tarter, President, RealTime Reservation accept a 2023 Hotel Visionary Award on stage at Hotel Technology Forum.

RealTime Reservation and Marriott International (including Marriott Digital Services, the company’s in-house digital agency) combined forces for the first time in 2019. The inception of this relationship was a result of proven problem-solving that occurred during the pandemic. During the summer of 2020, hotels were reopening and employing staff, but guests were not traveling - resulting in a lack of overnight occupancy. Marriott approached the RealTime Reservation team with an opportunity to create a new booking tool that would be easy and quick to implement. The goal was to create a flexible offering that would invite guests to leave the house for work, play, or simply to get away for a day to a safe environment.

“When Marriott rolled out the ‘Work Anywhere’ program at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, we worked closely with RealTime Reservation to create more than 100 ‘Day Pass’ websites for hotels in less than 90 days,” says James Holman, Director Custom Products & Partnerships, Marriott Digital Services. “This is just one of many examples where RealTime Reservation went above and beyond, in a short amount of time, to deliver a product that benefited hotels and their ownership.”

[Read about more Visionary Award winners here!]

This scope of this work paved the way for the working relationship that exists today. Since 2020, RealTime Reservation and Marriott have worked in tandem to create white-labeled products that maintain their standards across all brands, integrate with existing Point of Sale, Property Management Systems, and payment platforms, improve the guest experience, and innovate operational workflow for staff.

“Each project comes with the expectation of pivoting in a constantly changing marketplace, which is why RealTime Reservation’s flexibility has been key,” adds Holman.

After the success of the Work Anywhere program, Marriott turned to RealTime Reservation to assist with the management of pool cabana and daybed inventories for hotels, and in creating a custom solution for the company’s latest endeavor, Sheraton Studios. The teams worked closely together from inception to launch to build software that could provide guests with easy access to semi-public meeting spaces that would be manageable by staff, integrated with existing software, and connected to relevant departments (food and beverage, etc.). 

With the Sheraton Studios project, there was extra coordination required for rollout because each individual property using the software had a different schedule. The launch of each hotel’s program was determined by a remodeling schedule which was responsible for creating the new workspaces. RealTime Reservation’s implementation team worked closely with each property to align launch dates to each timeline. Marriott has a high level of confidence and trust in RealTime Reservation’s abilities to execute work, which is why Marriott continues to invest and engage with RealTime Reservation on a number of projects. Together, RealTime Reservation has supported hundreds of Marriott hotels globally to generate more than $140 million in ancillary revenue since 2019. The portfolio of Marriott and RealTime Reservation hotels has increased by 50% from 2021 to 2023.

“RealTime Reservation is a company that develops with a property rather than for a property,” Holman notes. “Every product that is developed and implemented by RealTime Reservation is driven by partnerships and collaborations to ensure that it not only accomplishes the desired goal but also exceeds those expectations. For example, RealTime Reservation employs a seasoned team of engineers who work closely with experts to understand how software needs to function for the hospitality industry.

“I have personally overseen the relationship with RealTime Reservation for the past four years,” Holman continues. “I remain impressed with their commitment to their hotel clients to deliver quality, innovative products and ultimately to help enhance the hotel guest experience.” 

 

Want to hear James Holman, Director Custom Products & Partnerships, Marriott Digital Services talk with Shawn Tarter, President, RealTime Reservation about their working relationship? Check out the video below from their chat at HTF 2023.

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