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Technology Rock Stars JEFF EDWARDS

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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.

Global Senior Vice President of Property, Owner, and Enterprise Solutions

Jeff Edwards is the global head of property, owner and enterprise solutions for InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), whose portfolio includes 16 brands in more than 100 countries. He joined the company in 2017 after serving as president of Amadeus’ hotel division. He also has held senior management roles at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Cendant, OpenTable and MICROS-Fidelio. His 25-plus years in the hospitality industry have served him well in his current position, where he is in charge of technology platforms and applications that support hotels and owners.

Because his primary stakeholders are hotel owners, Edwards looks at technology through a highly focused lens. “I’m not trying to come up with a talking shower head,” he jokes. “I want to be the rubber on the road. And part of that is understanding exactly what our owners are thinking about every day.”

Edwards concentrates on the areas in which he can make the most measurable differences. That might mean aggregating services and providing them broadly across the IHG portfolio. Or he often bundles technology capabilities in a way that drives value. ‘Hotels have so many individual systems. I look for ways to combine those capabilities and provide a single solution that performs a variety of tasks,” he said.

One of Edwards’ major initiatives has been IHG Concerto, a platform that allows IHG’s hotel management colleagues to access the company’s many applications, including both third-party vendor systems and propriety solutions, in one place. “We can overlay Concerto on top of all the disparate systems we use and have them perform as if they were from a single provider,” he explained. “It’s a way for us to drive commonality, decrease training time, and offer uniformity across brands.”

Edwards and his team then expanded the concept and created Concerto for Owners, so that hotel owners and operators can access key metrics – such as RevPAR, competitive set information, and guest satisfaction scores – on their smartphones, laptops or tablets in real time. The solution also enables owners to drill down to get detailed information on one or more properties. “It’s a way for us to engage virtually with our owners every day,” he said. The company initially rolled out the product to its owners in China just as the nation was exiting the pandemic.

Until COVID-19 hit, Edwards held meetings with owners several times each year to find out what they needed and wanted in terms of technology. “We want to partner with our owners to create solutions that drive value for them,” he said, adding that all of his team members wear WWOW bracelets – What Would Owners Want – at work to remind them to view projects through the owner lens.

These days, Edwards and his team spend a lot of time thinking about the best ways to drive value for guests. “We like the idea of transferable common platforms that allow us to drive unique value based on all the guest touchpoints,” he said. “We’re on that journey now.”

Family: Married, with one daughter and two grandchildren.

Go-To Periodical or Website: All industry periodicals. “I spend a lot of time staying up-to-speed about travel in general.”

Book: Anything having to do with history.

Hobbies: My grandchildren. “They live nearby, and I get to see them a lot.”

Jams: Jazz.

Favorite Travel Destination: Italy. “I like the sense of history there.”

Advice to Young People: “Don’t be afraid to seek advice. Sometimes the best thing you can do is ask for help.”

Dinner With: Martin Luther King, Jr. “I admire people who have changed the way the world thinks.”

©2021 Hospitality Upgrade
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