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Technology Rock Stars Gustaf Burman Montage International

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April 08, 2022
Technology Leaders
Fran Worrall - fran@hospitalityupgrade.com

2022 Technology Rock Stars
Gustaf Burman

CIO & EVP, Hotel Engineering, 

Montage International


 

Gustaf Burman is chief information officer and executive vice president of hotel engineering at Montage International, where he is responsible for developing and executing technology strategy for the brand, which includes ultra-luxury Montage Hotels & Resorts, the new luxury Pendry Hotels, Montage Residences and Pendry Residences. The company also manages some of the country’s premier golf courses and clubs. Prior to joining Montage in 2016, he served in senior technology positions at Morgans Hotel Group and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. He sits on the Hospitality Technology Next Generation Board of Governors. He began his hospitality career during college as a bellman at Sheraton Stockholm.

Gustaf BurmanWhen Burman joined Montage, the company had only five hotels. It has since added eight properties. One of his primary initiatives has been to move the company’s core business applications – including point-of-sale, customer relationship management, business intelligence and email – to the cloud. He pragmatically moved each product when the vendor provided a SaaS model. "I think the vendors that develop the products typically offer better support than third-party hosted providers," he explained. The company’s newer properties also use a cloud-based property management system; legacy hotels will follow suit this year.

Burman gives high marks to Oracle’s property management and point-of-sale solutions. “The company’s focus on hospitality and service-mindedness has really impressed me,” he said. He also likes the ALICE hotel operations platform, the Amadeus sales and event solution, and the IBM Cognos business intelligence suite. He uses a managed service provider to oversee the company’s firewall and network security. “Because of our size, we sometimes need outside expertise,” he explained.

As for staffing, Montage has experienced minimal pandemic-related turnover, and Burman credits its corporate culture. In fact, the brand has been able to attract and hire top talent during the last two years. “We’ve taken advantage of the exodus from larger hotel companies to add good people,” he said. ”I have a world-class team, and I’m proud of every employee, both at the corporate and hotel levels.”

Burman’s business philosophy is simple. Don’t implement technology for technology’s sake. “Too many hotel companies get caught up in that cycle,” he said. “Technology should drive revenue, increase efficiency or solve a business problem. If it doesn’t do those things, there’s no reason to buy it.”

Likewise, he makes it a priority to understand the entire business, not just the technology side. “I try to be proactive in supporting other departments and their initiatives,” he said. “I’m constantly up and down the organization, spending time with people to find out what works for them and what doesn’t. Technology touches everything. If you don’t understand that, you’re setting yourself up for failure.”

 

GUSTAF’S BEST:

  • Family: Engaged, with 13-year-old twin boys and an 11-year-old daughter from a previous marriage. 
  • Hobbies: Hiking, reading and cooking.
  • Go-To Periodical or Website: The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Economist. “I’m a news junkie and read from all sides of the spectrum.”
  • Book: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon. “The historical impact of that period is felt to this day.”
  • Music: Everything from classical to EDM. “It depends on my mood.”
  • Favorite Travel Destination: France and Italy. “They offer an unbeatable combination of culture and cuisine.”
  • Advice to Young People: "Be kind and keep your ego in check. Going the extra mile to help other people has always been rewarding, in both my personal life and career.”
  • Dinner With: "My fiance'e first, but if she's busy, then Elon Musk. I’m fascinated with what he’s been able to create.”

GUSTAF’S INDUSTRY PREDICTIONS:

 

Self-service solutions will continue to grow. “Even before the pandemic, mobile solutions were becoming more popular,” he said.  “And while they won’t replace other ways of interacting with guests, they will provide an attractive alternative.”

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Software providers will offer more tightly integrated solutions. “The bigger players, in particular, are looking at smarter ways to integrate data.”

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Guests will manage their own data. “Privacy is becoming a big concern, and customers will soon be able to manage the information they want to share with hospitality organizations,” he said.
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