The Next Chapter: AH&LA Technology and E-business Committee

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October 01, 2013
AH&LA
Mike Dickersbach


Earlier this year, it was with great privilege and honor that I took the reins as the chair of the AH&LA technology and E-business committee.  As a famous movie quote goes, with great power comes great responsibility.  Well, I don’t have the great power, (although some believe I create miracles when I am able to fix their computers), but I am taking on the responsibility to pick up where Naomi Stark, the former chair, left and carry the torch forward.  We thank her for the great strides that she started.

Here is a reintroduction to the committee. As a group of technologists, educators, operators and industry affiliates we have come together to help bring advocacy, education and assistance to the AH&LA membership in the realm of technology.  The committee meets twice a year, during HFTP’s HITEC and during AH&LA’s International Hotel, Motel and Restaurant Show in New York City and conducts various conference calls throughout the year.

For the next two years, my co-chair Jim Lamb, the CIO of Interstate Hotels & Resorts, and I will bring a large focus onto the needs of the operators.  Our goal is to be more of an advocate for the operators.  For example, we have a subcommittee that is working with AH&LA on the issues regarding the high costs of PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliance, to specifically raise awareness and bring a single voice to fight against the growing costs of PCI compliance, brand/owner/manager responsibilities, and how the card brands have less and less liabilities, pushing more costs onto operators.  PCI and advocacy are topics that we want to focus on as we serve the needs of the AH&LA community.

In addition to advocacy, the committee works hard using our talented members to bring together webinars on topics that matter to operators. This year, we provided webinars that covered important topics such as PCI compliance updates and primers on what to look for when cabling a hotel and working with infrastructure.  Through a recently formed partnership, all the webinars are free to members of Hospitality Financial & Technology Professionals (HFTP) and AH&LA.  The topics vary, are never too technical and focus on the operator issues. For 2014, we plan to continue these great webinars. 

This leads to assistance. We are here to assist, whether in advocacy, mentoring, or education, and we serve the operator. Assistance is a two-way street. The more feedback received from the communities, the better focus can be provided on the topics that matter. We often hear feedback of varying degrees from simple how-to questions to more complex systems questions. As a committee, we are here to help address the needs of the community by clarifying complex systems, or providing training on various topics. Even if your hotel is branded and all the technology flows to the large IT funnel of the corporate headquarters, we welcome participation from the greater AH&LA community including general managers, operations managers, directors of finance, chief engineers  and asset managers.

These items remain at the core of what the committee does, and looks forward to providing in 2014. Our first planning session in November will lay out a schedule for 2014 and will be the blueprint of our movement forward to educate, advocate and assist. Please visit the AH&LA technology committee website and provide your input on how we can assist you.

- by Mike Dickersbach, VP Technology, Thayer Lodging

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