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Technology Rock Stars MERCEDES DE LUCA

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March 25, 2020
Technology Leaders
Fran Worrall

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.

Pebble Beach Resorts

Mercedes De Luca is chief information officer at Pebble Beach resorts, where she brings an extensive background in ecommerce, software and consumer internet technology to bear. She joined the company in 2017 after holding leadership positions with Basecamp, Sears Holdings, Yahoo! and start-up ecommerce platform MyShape, where she led the development of digital shopping experiences to build customer loyalty and drive sales.

De Luca, who is recognized for driving innovation, says her ecommerce background has helped her gain a deep understanding of consumer behavior. “I spent a lot of time in the personalization space, and I’ve always been focused on how technology can help customers,” she said. “Regardless of the industry, the best experiences are the ones in which consumers don’t even think about the technology they are using because their experiences are so seamless.”

One of De Luca’s most ambitious initiatives at Pebble Beach Resorts surrounded its recent centennial anniversary. As part of the milestone celebration, the company unveiled its new visitor center, so the IT team created a digital guestbook that not only collects the names of the people who visit the center, but also provides insight – via a short digital survey – into why they are visiting. The team made sure the questions were concise and easy to understand so that visitors could complete the survey in less than a minute. They also created an interactive iPad experience that allows guests to explore everything Pebble Beach has to offer – from accommodations and dining to golfing and shopping – simply by swiping through one of 10 tablets available in the visitor center. Both the digital guestbook and the iPad experience feature several languages, which visitors can easily navigate.

De Luca and her team spent more than four months working on the centennial projects. “These applications had to be designed in a way that ensured guests couldn’t get lost, and we also had to make certain the applications didn’t require human supervision,” she explained. Recently, Pebble Beach Resorts began offering casting technology, giving guests control over in-room entertainment and allowing them to stream content from their personal mobile devices to the TVs in their rooms. “As more people subscribe to streaming services, they increasingly expect to use them as they travel,” she said.

Interestingly, despite the myriad technology used in the hospitality environment, De Luca believes the industry is underserved by it. “Many hospitality companies approach technology with a transactional lens, thinking solely about how to facilitate online sales when they should be working to delight guests with an enriched digital experience.” This might be personalized shopping, online reviews and even recommendations that match guests’ previous purchases. “Guests have very high expectations these days, which you need to anticipate and exceed,” she concluded. “We have to create wonderful experiences for consumers in the digital and real world.”

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