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Cloud Technology in Hospitality: Insights from Hilton Grand Vacation’s CIO

Thinking Out Cloud: Episode Seven

If anyone knows where cloud technology is going in hospitality, it’s Rich Jackson, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Hilton Grand Vacations (HGV).

Technology Investment

While technology investment for front-of-house operations is more likely to get sign-off from executives, Rich says we’ll start to see more support for internal cloud systems.

The return may be more easily understood for the convenience guests experience in using digital keys to check-in on their mobile device (rather than at the front desk), and harder to justify for a back-of-house initiatives, but it’s becoming increasingly clear these types of projects are starting to get the buy-in needed to push them forwards.

Seamless Global Rollout

Hilton is a global public company operating on four continents so, as the CIO, Rich has seen his fair share of global initiatives.

There are unique challenges in rolling out a global cloud tech plan versus a local one. Factors include balancing local influences with the overall business strategy, especially when considering the cultures of different regions around the world: Europe, Southeast Asia, Central America and others.

Here are some of Rich’s tips for a seamless global rollout:

  • Identify local ambassadors who will help drive the change.
  • Apply excellent project management. Think about the issues faced domestically and then consider language barriers, time zones, cultural differences and other variables.
  • Communicate early and communicate often.
  • Adapt to others and don’t expect them to adapt to you. Some cultures require more consensus or a greater understanding of the why, not just the how.

Competition Encourages Innovation

At first, Rich saw the various hospitality platforms, such as Airbnb, VRBO and others, as competitors to HGV but he has since changed his mind. Now, he is thankful for their ingenuity, as it has been the driving force to continued innovation for bigger players in the industry. In fact, he says, “It’s a great time to be alive.”

As the rate of innovation continues to accelerate, Rich sees an exciting future for organizations that are no longer tech-enabled; they are tech-led.

To learn more about cloud tech in the hospitality industry, check out episode seven of the Thinking Out Cloud podcast with Rich Jackson.

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