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Technology Rock Stars CHARLES BUREAU

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April 19, 2021
Technology Leaders
Fran Worrall

The People Leading the Industry
In HU’s second annual ‘Technology Rock Stars’ special report, we feature 10 technology leaders who have set themselves apart as hospitality’s best and brightest. Selected by a panel of hotel and gaming consultants and insiders, these men and women not only are driving change within their organizations but also are at the forefront of innovation in the industry. Our profiles provide an in-depth look at their recent accomplishments and highlight their predictions for technology’s future. We also share some of their personal bests ó ranging from favorite travel destinations (everywhere from Napa Valley to New Zealand) to favorite periodicals (in addition to Hospitality Upgrade, of course). We hope you enjoy this year’s special report.

VP of Technology 
Germain Hotels

Charles Bureau is vice president of technology for Canadian brand Germain Hôtels. He joined the company as IT director in 2010 after having worked at Fujitsu as a consultant specializing in systems integration. His technology career began at the tender age of 16, when he began offering his services to small and mid-sized companies, many of which were in the construction industry. “When I was a kid and got my first computer, I took it apart after two days to learn how it worked,” he said. “I was fascinated by technologies.”

When Bureau joined Germain Hôtels, the company had only six properties. (It now has 18.) As the first internal IT employee, he was given the task of building a department from scratch. So, one of his priorities was putting together a team, which he admits wasn’t easy. “It can be difficult to attract good IT people to the hotel industry. Their vision of the perfect job usually isn’t in hospitality; it’s often in gaming or cybersecurity. I had to be creative and entice them with cool projects and technology.”

One such project has been the building of a data lake using open source technology. “It isn’t easy or perfect, but what we’ve completed so far is great,” he said. “My goal is always to do as well as – or better than – anyone else, but in our own way. This brings us the value we’re looking for rather than the value provided by a market solution.”

The data lake solution gathers information in real time from the hotel’s many sources, including property management, point-of-sale, and customer relationship management. The next step will be to integrate with social media. “We can access the data from all of our properties in a single click,’ he said. “We can now get strategic sales and marketing information in very few steps compare to the time it would have taken using the PMS.”

One of Bureau’s pet peeves is disparate and siloed solutions that prevent hotels from utilizing data to its fullest potential. His ultimate goal is to build a 360-degree view of the guest and be able to access data in a single place from every platform. “That will allow us to create comprehensive profiles and offer highly personalized experiences.”

Before the pandemic, Bureau and his team has just begun building a self-service kiosk. When COVID-19 hit, they expedited the project, deploying four kiosks at one property in only a few weeks.

For Bureau, the challenge in hospitality is finding a way to improve on the solutions that every hotel uses. “In our industry, we hear about the same technologies over and over again,” he said. “For me, innovation isn’t only about doing something different than everyone else, but doing the same thing in a different way.”

Family: Married, with three children and a pet rabbit.

Go-To Periodical or Website: Google News. 

Book: The Belgariad by David Eddings. “It’s a fantasy epic similar to The Lord of the Rings. It was my entrée into that genre.”

Hobbies: Karate. He’s a 6th grade black belt, and he owns a karate school with 150 students.

Jams: Hard rock.

Favorite Travel Destination: Mediterranean Coast. “I love the natural beauty, the culture, and the welcoming people.”

Advice to Young People: “Trust yourself and never give up.”

Dinner With: Elon Musk. “He has changed the world by changing the automotive, space and energy industries.”

©2021 Hospitality Upgrade
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