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Technology Rock Stars Harold Dibler Best Western

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

2022 Technology Rock Stars: 
Harold Dibler
VP of Technology Management, Best Western® Hotels & Resorts


Harold Dibler is vice president of technology management at Best Western® Hotels & Resorts, a global network of 18 brands ranging from economy to luxury, each independently owned and operated. He oversees application development and delivery, enterprise architecture, infrastructure and operations for the company. He has more than 35 years of IT experience in several industries, including education, finance and manufacturing. He started out at Best Western Hotels & Resorts 22 years ago managing a small development team, then served as a director and eventually moved into senior management. Last year, he was named ‘CIO of the Year’ by the Arizona chapter of Inspire CIO Leadership.

Harold Dibler Best Western 2022

One of Dibler’s biggest initiatives to date has been transitioning the company’s brand-delivered revenue channels – including websites, call centers and GDS connections – from on-site data centers to the cloud. “We wanted to become more agile and deliver business value more quickly,” he said. He and his team selected Amazon Web Services (AWS) as the company’s cloud provider and partnered with AWS and TEKsystems to help them along the journey.

He divided the massive project into two phases. The first, which began in 2020 and was recently completed, involved transitioning the company’s core revenue systems to the cloud. Now, the team is moving its business support solutions – those systems that are important but not revenue-critical – with a completion date scheduled for late 2022.

Dibler also retrained IT staff. “Providing training helped us retain some really good people,” he said. Although he lost a few employees during the pandemic, mainly due to higher wages in other sectors, turnover was minimal. “We work hard to engage staff, and we build together from the ground up,” he said. The IT team also met the challenges surrounding the pandemic head-on, deploying equipment and providing support to more than 450 remote workers who continued to service the company’s hoteliers, affiliates, franchisees and associates.

Looking toward the future, Dibler is focusing on mobile and touchless solutions, including the company’s mobile app, which allows reward members to view loyalty points, book rooms and access mobile room keys. The company also has upgraded its payment processes and embraced new mobile options. On the horizon is an agreement with a payments provider that will allow the company to accept an even wider variety of payments and deliver a more streamlined guest experience.

Two-and-a-half years ago, in an effort to simplify distribution, Best Western Hotels & Resorts acquired AutoClerk, a property management system company that had been a longtime North American technology partner. While Dibler notes that franchisees are free to use other solutions, the partnership with AutoClerk drives faster and more reliable connectivity and offers unique benefits to hotels. “It’s not mandatory but we definitely see big opportunities here.”
 

HAROLD’S BEST:

  • Family: Married with two grown children.
  • Hobbies: Riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
  • Go-To Periodical or Website: Morning Brew, an email newsletter that covers the latest news in an easy-to-read format. “It’s entertaining and informative.”
  • Book: The Last Buffalo Hunt by Gary McCarthy. “It’s a classic about the taming of the Wild West.”
  • Music: Hard rock, especially from the 70s. “The heavier the better.”
  • Favorite Travel Destination: Anywhere in Europe, especially Paris and Amsterdam.
  • Advice to Young People:  Get out of your comfort zone and be open to change. It will help you grow and lead.”
  • Dinner With: “My dad, who passed away 12 years ago. Another evening with him would be wonderful.”

HAROLD’S INDUSTRY PREDICTIONS


Technology and marketing will become more integrated. “Everything today involves technology, so these disciplines need to be better aligned.”

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Automation will be used more extensively. “Artificial intelligence and machine learning will improve forecasting, and analytics will help hoteliers make data-driven decisions,” he said.

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Solutions that offer guest flexibility will be paramount. “From mobile keys to in-room automation, the emphasis will be on applications that offer convenience and value.”

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