HFTP to Honor Hospitality Technology Pioneers with an Award of Merit

  • Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP)
  • 03.15.07
Individuals who have made a significant innovation or breakthrough that established a path for others in hospitality technology will be honored at the 35th Annual Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition and Conference (HITEC®).

The Award of Merit, established by Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP), was created in 2002 to coincide with the 30th anniversary of HITEC. Presented every five years, the honor is intended to create a historical bridge between the present and the industry's origins by recognizing those who have made contributions that still greatly impact the industry to this day. Recipients will be chosen by a committee of inductees to the HFTP International Hospitality Technology Hall of Fame, a group of industry professionals who have already been recognized for their influence on the industry.

"The idea behind the Award of Merit is to recognize individuals who have made significant technological contributions that have had longevity," said John Cahill, chair of the Award of Merit committee and CIO for Denihan Hospitality Group. "The work accomplished by those selected will have benefited all of us, especially those of us who have been working in hospitality technology since the early days."

Up to five Award of Merit recipients will be selected by mid-May and will be honored at the HITEC opening session, June 26 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. Each individual will be chosen for his/her unique contribution to hospitality technology. Eligible nominees can be from any hospitality discipline, not just technology, however, their contribution has to have been in hospitality technology. 

In 2002, Roger Lane, Richard Maloney, Dietmar Müller-Elmau, John Pignataro and Robert Sanford were given the Award of Merit.

Each individual was selected for the following accomplishments:  
  • Roger Lane, CHAE, is one of the original supporters of hospitality technology. He installed one of the first property management systems at the resort where he was working, pushing the implementation of hospitality automation. He was also a very strong proponent of an annual hospitality technology show, which eventually became what is now HITEC. 
  • Richard Maloney was a pioneer in hospitality telecommunications. As an account manager for ITT Sheraton, Maloney commanded the attention of Northern Telecom (now Nortel Networks) to focus on the opportunities available in the hospitality industry. He went to work for Northern Telecom and was able to convince the technology company to support a joint development activity with key hospitality customers, resulting in the development of a robust set of hospitality features. Breakthrough products in voice messaging, systems integration and terminal instruments (data jacks on guest room phones) were developed by Nortel and led the industry. Nortels products became upscale hotel standards, adopted by major hotel companies on a global basis. Maloney led Nortel's vertical marketing group for nearly a decade. He was also a visible supporter of HFTP, HITEC and HFTP's International Hospitality Technology Hall of Fame.
  • Dietmar Müller-Elmau founded Fidelio, which developed the only non-U.S.-based property management system that is today the standard for most international chains. The approach to software design was revolutionary for the industry, and the rapid creation of the sales and distribution network on a worldwide basis was very successful.  
  • John Pignataro was vice president of technology functions at Sheraton hotels in the late 60s, 70s and most of the 80s. During those years, he led a three-pronged technology effort which included centralized corporate systems, the Reservatron reservation system in '72-'73 which endured for 15 years, and implemented successful hotel systems throughout all of Sheraton's properties worldwide. Pignataro was also instrumental in helping the IAHA Hospitality Technology Conference (now HITEC) develop during the late 70s and early 80s.  
  • Robert Sanford created Hotel Information Systems (HIS), through which he was an enterprise technology pioneer. HIS was one of the first vendors to use industry-standard IBM equipment such as the S/34, S/36, S/38 and AS 400 for its property management systems. This allowed international companies (such as Hilton International and InterContinental) to provide a common platform for systems around the world, which was considered a real breakthrough. HIS was also a technology leader for many years, particularly in interfaces with various other systems. Sanford was very passionate about his products and strived to make them better.  

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