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March 25, 2020
Technology Leaders
Fran Worral

The People Leading the Industry

Although many people come to mind when considering technology leaders in hospitality, our HU panel — which consisted of hotel and gaming consultants and insiders — selected 10 visionary men and women who not only are driving change within their organizations but also are at the forefront of innovation in the industry. In this special report, we highlight these technology leaders, providing an in-depth look at their recent accomplishments as well as their predictions for technology’s future.

VP of Technology
Equinox Hotels

Brennan Gildersleeve joined Equinox Hotels in 2017 as vice president of technology, where he is responsible for leading technology strategy and implementation of systems for the brand.

He brings a wealth of experience to the position, having worked at Starwood Hotels & Resorts for 15 years, where his primary focus was guest-facing technology, including Wi-Fi, mobile applications and in-room solutions. “It has been quite an experience shifting from one of the world’s largest hotel companies to an atmosphere similar to that of a start-up,” he said, “but it has been an amazing opportunity to be part of this new brand.”

In July 2019, Equinox, a luxury lifestyle leader that operates more than 100 full-service clubs globally, architected the ‘fitness as a lifestyle’ movement with the launch of Equinox Hotels and the opening of the brand’s first property in Hudson Yards, New York City. In the coming years, the company will open hotels in Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago and Santa Clara, Calif., with the goal of launching 33 properties in strategic gateway cities and resort locations by 2028.

Gildersleeve was tasked with identifying, selecting and onboarding more than 40 technology systems needed to successfully integrate the first Equinox Hotel into the market. In order to achieve this goal, he used three guiding principles to select the technology: It had to be modern, mobile-first and cloud-based (or SaaS). “We were able to select some of the greatest platform-based systems available,” he said, noting that the solutions are interfaced to allow multiple departments to leverage the same data and work together seamlessly. As a result, team members can access the exact information they need to ensure that guests – or hotel members, as Equinox calls them – are provided with the best possible experience. ”It’s not technology for the sake of technology, but for the sake of offering an integrated and user-friendly experience built around simplicity,” he said.

One of Gildersleeve’s biggest challenges was to connect Equinox Hotel data with the on-site flagship Equinox Fitness Club system in order to provide a seamless guest experience. “As a guest of our hotel, you automatically become an Equinox member of our Hudson Yards club for the duration of your stay,” he explained. As such, hotel members can utilize the Equinox mobile app to manage everything from hotel reservations to their club journey throughout their time on property. They can also sign up for group fitness classes, schedule personal training, manage their hotel stay and even access their room key with the touch of a button.

From a technology perspective, it has been a rewarding journey for Gildersleeve. “It was exciting to start from scratch without a single system in place,” he said. “We’ve accomplished a lot in launching this brand. Since our opening in in July, we’ve continued to enhance and optimize our systems to ensure a one-of-a-kind guest experience.”

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