2016 International Hotel Visionary Award Winners

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Hospitality Technology (HT) magazine has named the Visionary Award Winners of the 2016 International Hotel Award. Every year, HT presents a select group of lodging companies with honors for outstanding achievement in delivering technological excellence at its annual Hotel Technology Forum (this year held April 20 – 22 at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel). The 2016 honorees are Grand View Lodge and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.

The 2016 Visionary Award Winners

Grand View Lodge was chosen as a Customer-Facing Innovator for its creation of a digital concierge, known as gvlfun.com. This web-based application integrates with all of the property’s reservation products for everything from the PMS to dining reservations, scheduling tee times and even spa appointments. The system is able to draw from other software automatically without having duplicate information. In 2015, Grand View Lodge had 17,000+ unique visitors and 3,435 activities booked online, all actions that would have taken the time of a reservationist and created friction for the guest. The web-based application is cross-platform and accessible by any device with access to the Internet, allowing guests to easily sign up for activities on their own. On the management side this helps ensure adequate staff is scheduled at appropriate times and enables managers to add activities to the schedule if needed.

“This system started out as just a small project helping our guests and service staff,” said Business Systems Analyst/Programmer Amy Schulz at Grand View. “But it wasn’t long after that we saw a bigger opportunity. Working with a small team of creative minds, this grew into the digital concierge that is now. The award is an amazing tribute considering the all the international companies that were vying for this.”

“We are very grateful for this recognition. It took each department’s open-mindedness, adaptability and desire to stay ahead of the competition in order to get to where we are. Fighting with multiple systems and minimal resources, we still found a way to create a unique homegrown solution,” says Frank Soukup, director of marketing for Cote Family Companies. “We just love the positive feedback we have seen already from a guest end as well as our staff — and this is just Phase 1 of the software!”

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide was selected as an Enterprise Innovator for its development of a global standard for a hotel-based electronic procure-to-payment system. The endeavor was undertaken in order to enable consistent and efficient spend visibility, financial controls, accounts payable automation, information technology support, supplier tracking, and overall hotel operations. This entailed consolidating information from more than 12 different systems globally into one cloud-based system. Just one year into the anticipated three years it will take for full deployment, the company is already forecasting metrics of productivity gains between 10% and 30%, a 25% reduction in cycle time and 30+% invoice process efficiencies.

“Starwood Hotels & Resorts is honored to be recognized by Hospitality Technology for its successful efforts and achievements in creating and implementing a global standard for a hotel-based electronic procurement to pay system,” said Tad Wampfler, senior vice president and chief chain supply officer with Starwood. “By leveraging the collective strength of the Starwood System — linking finance, procurement, operations and business intelligence — Starwood’s Procure 2 Pay Solution enables our hotels to run robust reports to enable better and faster decision making.”

The Hotel Visionary Awards, now celebrating 12 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.

“We’re particularly excited about the depth of in-house development work that went into these projects,” says Abigail A. Lorden, Hospitality Technology’s group editor-in-chief. “At a time when hotels often – and with good reason — look to partner with third-party solution providers for their technology needs, it’s exciting to call attention to the development work that is happening within a hotel’s organization. Unique requirements inspired these companies to build homegrown solutions that differentiate their brands. HT is honored to call attention to these sorts of projects.”

The Visionary Award Winners were announced at the Hotel Technology Forum (HTF) on Thursday, April 21, 2016. HTF is produced by Hospitality Technology, and brings together senior-level hotel technology executives for three days of networking and education, focusing on consumer trends, innovation opportunities, and the role of technology in empowering success for lodging companies. Both award winners will be featured on the cover and with a profile story in the June issue of the HT Magazine.

Last year’s Visionary Award Winners included Fontainebleu Hotel in Miami Beach, Hilton Worldwide, SilverBirch Hotels & Resorts.

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