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Technology Rock Stars JEFF BZDAWKA

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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.

SVP Global Hotel Technology

Jeff Bzdawka is senior vice president of global hotel technology for Hyatt. He joined the company in 2012 after having served in leadership positions at TravelClick, Pegasus Solutions, Security Capital Group and Sabre. He says his experience on both the vendor and hotel sides gives him a unique perspective on the industry’s technology challenges and reminds him to stay focused on delivering solutions that drive operational value.

Interestingly, Bzdawka’s first job was at a Hyatt property when he was an 18-year-old high school senior. “I always wanted to work in the service industry, so I called the manager of the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee to ask if he’d spend an hour or two talking with me,” he recalls. Instead, the manager invited the teen to spend a day working with him; and, impressed with his initiative, offered Bzdawka a job. That early experience stuck with him and influenced his decision to return to the company nine years ago. “There’s a real culture of care at Hyatt. When I came back, it felt like I was coming home.”

One of his team’s recent initiatives has been to accelerate the company’s use of technology to streamline service and meet changing guest expectations as the industry evolves through the pandemic. They are rolling out a number of initiatives designed with guest safety and comfort in mind, including digital key capabilities – now available at more than 500 properties – that give World of Hyatt members the ability to access their rooms from their smartphones, digital dining options that automate and simplify food and beverage delivery, and enhanced check-in and check-out, which enable guest choice and offer heightened transparency in the travel journey.

Hyatt also has embraced wellness. Last year, the company launched an exclusive collaboration with Headspace to bring mindfulness exercises and guided meditations to its colleagues and guests. At more than 200 properties, guests can access complimentary curated content through in-room television and the World of Hyatt app. “We’re always looking for ways to extend our experiences beyond our physical hotel buildings,” Bzdawka said.

Additionally, Hyatt is focusing on hybrid meetings. “The challenges of COVID-19  inspired us to reinvent ourselves and accelerate many of our efforts,” he said, noting that the company has invested in state-of-the-art audio-visual technology that allows customers to execute successful gatherings. “Although we know face-to-face meetings will return, they will be different. So, we’re ramping up technology to ensure unique and engaging experiences in the meeting and event space.”

One of Bzdawka’s proudest team achievements is a solution called Colleague Advantage, a unified user interface that sits on top of a dozen front desk applications. “When I rejoined Hyatt, the sheer number of touchpoints at check-in and check-out made for overly-scripted transactions with guests,” he said. “By putting a ‘wrapper’ of sorts on top of the applications, it simplifies the experience and turns transactions into interactions. Best of all, the adoption rates are fantastic.“

Family: Married, with two grown children, one granddaughter and two Dachshunds.

Go-To Periodical or Website: Harvard Business Review and anything focused on technology.

Book: FYI for your improvement by Korn Ferry. “This is a great resource tool that I’ve used frequently in business, both for personal reflection and coaching team members.”

Hobbies: Golfing and cooking.

Jams: Contemporary Christian.

Favorite Travel Destination: Lambeau Field. “It’s hard to choose a single place. Working for Hyatt, I’ve had the pleasure of traveling to so many great destinations around the world.”

Advice to Young People: “Challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone. And always embrace a beginner’s mindset.”

Dinner With: Vince Lombardi. “I try to live by his quote: Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.”

©2021 Hospitality Upgrade
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