HTNG Bestows Annual Leadership Awards for Contribution to the Advancement of Hotel Technology

  • HTNG
  • 03.23.09
At the annual awards ceremony at its Members' Meeting and Conference in Dallas earlier this month, Hotel Technology Next Generation (HTNG) recognized ten individuals for major contributions to advancing the state of hotel technology during 2008.

"Given all the bad news in the industry, attendees at this year's HTNG conference were delighted to see evidence of tremendous progress by HTNG's workgroups in addressing key industry interoperability challenges - and in particular, to see the number of actual field implementations of HTNG solutions and standards in hotels," said Douglas Rice, executive vice president and chief executive officer of HTNG. "All of the credit, however, goes to the tireless efforts of our volunteers from the hotel, vendor and consulting community, who devoted thousands of hours to the cause during the year. It is only fitting that our industry should recognize the most significant contributions by our volunteers - people who tried to make a difference, and succeeded."

The top annual award, the HTNG Directors' Leadership Award, is bestowed annually by the HTNG board of directors. The HTNG board consists of chief information officers and other top IT executives from 13 hotel companies from around the world, including most of the major brands. Each year, one or two HTNG members are recognized for their outstanding contributions to advancing the state of hospitality technology, typically through extensive and effective volunteer efforts within HTNG's focused workgroups.

For 2008, the Directors' Leadership Award was presented to Lew J. Harasymiw, Esq., director of interface solutions at SynXis; and to Christopher M. Laffoon, software engineer at IBM Corporation.

Lew Harasymiw was recognized for his technical leadership of HTNG's distribution efforts. This standardized approach to implementing OpenTravel Alliance specifications on a nearly plug-and-play basis has now been deployed, or is in the process of being implemented, by nearly 20 major vendors across the spectrum of property management, central reservations, yield management, group booking and channel management systems, and is now starting to be deployed in online travel agencies as well. Harasymiw also played a key role in the establishment during 2008 of HTNG's governance council, which is designed to ensure maximum reuse and minimal overlap of HTNG's standards development efforts. He now chairs both the HTNG property/distribution workgroup and the HTNG governance council, in addition to serving as chair of the OpenTravel Alliance's hospitality work group.
Christopher Laffoon was honored for his contributions to multiple HTNG efforts. He provided extensive and valuable review of the majority of technical specifications released by HTNG during 2008, including open data exchange, digital signage, single guest itinerary and others. He proposed development frameworks that improved the productivity of HTNG's several HTNG efforts. Laffoon also contributed key artifacts to the team developing HTNG's reference architecture. And when the leader of HTNG's food and beverage ordering effort departed unexpectedly, Laffoon took over and carried it successfully to completion. Finally, he has been leading a critical initiative, launched during 2008, to standardize communications between property management systems and guest room devices.
A special five-year technical leadership award was also presented to Sophie Grigg, chief operating officer of Lorica Solutions, in recognition of significant and ongoing contributions over the entire five-year period since the formation of HTNG's first workgroup in December, 2003. Grigg was one of the principal architects of HTNG's approach to Web services protocol and message transport. Based on standards developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), this framework, which is used in conjunction with all HTNG Web-service message standards, vastly reduced the time required for developers to build interfaces, and has contributed to significant cost reductions and greater agility for hotel companies and technology vendors alike. While serving as vice president of research and development at PAR Springer-Miller Systems, Grigg also contributed to the development of several of the HTNG message standards in the property Web services and property/distribution solution workgroups, and spearheaded her company's effort to be the first to certify not just to one, but to both sets of specifications. Since joining Lorica Solutions in 2008, she has also been a key contributor to new HTNG efforts to standardize complex interfaces with guestroom control devices.

HTNG also recognized the contributions of several other individuals to the success of HTNG's workgroups during 2008, including:

  • John Bell, enterprise architect at Marriott International, for his project management skills as chair of the reference architecture team within the HTNG architecture workgroup.
  • David Blancard, architect, distribution technology at Fairmont Raffles Hotels International, as chair of the HTNG property/distribution solution workgroup, for best overall progress by a workgroup during 2008.
  • Robin Coker, software engineer at Amadeus Hospitality, as the best overall team player for her contributions to the property/distribution solution workgroup.
  • Bill Euler, president of Professional Accounting Systems, Inc. (PAS), for his project management of the back office interface team within the HTNG property Web services workgroup.
  • Monika Nerger, vice president-the Americas for Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, and Neil Schubert, vice president-IT strategy for Marriott International, as "Master Cat Herders" for their leadership of HTNG's in-room technology workgroup, which now counts more than 150 senior-level participants from 69 companies.
  • Greg Pasetta, president and chief operating officer at Tangerine Global, for the best creative contribution, in recognition of short-subject videos produced for the in-room technology workgroup.

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