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Technology Rock Stars RAJIV CASTELLINO

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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.

Marcus Hotels & Resorts

Rajiv Castellino is chief technology officer for Marcus Hotels & Resorts, a Wisconsin-based company with a portfolio of premium brand properties, upscale resorts, and independent hotels. Prior to joining the company in 2017, he was chief information officer at Great Wolf Resorts. His career also includes serving as vice president of information technology at Interstate Hotels & Resorts and as director of IT support services at MeriStar Hospitality Corporation.

When Castellino arrived at Marcus, his goal was to strengthen operations in four primary areas: guest experience and innovation; productivity; compliance; and maintenance. A major initiative was standardizing systems at the company’s independent hotels. “There were a number of disparate solutions in place,” he said, including systems for property management, point-of-sale, spa, texting and digital messaging. Many were legacy systems that lacked the capacity to grow with the properties.

Over a period of 24 months, Castellino consolidated and standardized solutions and moved on-premises systems to the cloud, which enables the company to save money, improve accessibility and security, enhance disaster recovery, and become more agile. At the same time, he and his team worked with human resource departments across Marcus’s divisions to implement a cloud-based learning management system, which delivers standardized content to the company’s associates. The organization is now up-to-date with compliance, training and more. Best of all, managers can view content on their mobile devices, which has been especially helpful during the pandemic.

Castellino values creative problem solving, and he restructured the Marcus IT team to encourage a more collaborative environment. “I want my IT staff to think outside the box and become agents of change,” he said. Taking his own advice, he has experimented with a variety of cutting-edge technologies at Marcus, including robotics, voice-activated solutions, and a platform that applies consumer behavior principles, merchandising techniques, and personalization to the process of room assignments. In his previous position, he pioneered the use of RFID technology in hospitality.

However, he is quick to point out that he doesn’t add technology merely for technology’s sake. Security is paramount, so before purchasing any new solution, he and his team carefully assess its potential benefits and risks and thoroughly check out the vendors as well. “We don’t implement anything until we’re completely comfortable.”

According to Castellino, technology should be an enabler that helps organizations maximize efficiency, increase revenue, secure data and improve guest engagement. “Technology is never static; it’s constantly changing and evolving,” he concluded. “You always have to push your technology programs forward if you want to be well prepared for the future.”

Family: Married, with two daughters and two Siamese cats.

Go-To Periodical or Website: The Wall Street Journal. “It offers insights into business, technology, the economy, leadership and so much more.” 

Book: The Art of War by Sun Tzu. “It touches on strategy and leadership skills that are useful in everyday life.”

Hobbies: Playing the piano. “I used to be in a band.”

Jams: Rock.

Favorite Travel Destination: The Bahamas. “I love the white sand beaches and the Bahamian culture.”

Advice to Young People: “Stay true to yourself, and always strive to be a better version of yourself.”

Dinner With: Elon Musk. “He’s a brilliant and innovative thinker.”

©2021 Hospitality Upgrade
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