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Gustaaf Schrils

Gustaaf Schrils

Vice President of Global Technology
InterContinental Hotels Group

What are some of your responsibilities?
I lead a management team of very talented professionals who design, develop, deploy, train and maintain operational and guest-facing hotel-based technology systems for IHG’s managed and franchise hotels in the Americas. One of our most recently completed ambitious projects was the replacement of PMSs at over 2,850 hotels, which is one of the largest such efforts in the hospitality industry. We currently are opening one new hotel every day of the week in the Americas and that requires the highest degree of precision and execution by my team. We must not only perform to the satisfaction of our owners and operators but must also meet internal SLA, brand standards and budget requirements. Adding to our efforts is the increased competitive pressures of the industry in the area of in-room guest services focused toward further enhancement of the overall guest experience. Most recently, we completed the HDTV standard approval process for all of the IHG family of brands. In the future, HDTV will also serve as interactive portal displays for mass personalization of our guest experience.

What do you like most about your job?
The large number of business initiatives and customers that I need to serve at the same time. At times there are conflicting priorities, however that is the challenge which brings satisfaction when goals are achieved and customers are happy.

What do you like least about your job?
It is a 24/7 operating environment and technology has a hard time distinguishing when during the day or week it decides to break.

Where did you go to school? What was your major?
I grew up in Curacao, Netherlands Antilles, and after I finished high school I moved to the United States. I attended Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Fla., and graduated with a B.S. in Computer Engineering and an M.S. in Engineering Management.

What is your favorite movie?
"The Shawshank Redemption"

What is your favorite song?
"Candle in the Wind" by Elton John. I must also admit that I love to dance a good merengue and salsa.

What is your favorite line from a movie or song?
"Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get." (Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump)

What was your first job?
I was a lead engineer installing telecommunication equipment and optimizing telephone systems operations in hotels.   

What was your most interesting day at work?
I am fortunate to have experienced many very interesting days, but by far it was a visit to a foreign government official whose office was at least 10 times bigger than mine and included a full stocked bar, a lounge, a meeting table for 20, a desk and an indoor garden. I was strip-searched and followed by armed military personnel for what I consider to be a friendly visit, and shocked when we did have a great time. I have experienced many diverse and exciting places through the years, but nothing like this huge wasted space.

What would you do if you won the lottery?
Depending on the size of the after-tax amount, some for charity through my church and scholarships for the less fortunate, and then I would travel around the world some more and buy an oceanfront house in Malibu with a matching 60 plus-foot Bertram yacht.   

When you are not working, what do you enjoy doing?
I enjoy spending quality time with my two daughters and wife at our lake home in South Carolina. I also play tennis and enjoy many watersports.

What is the next technology to impact the hospitality industry?
Bandwidth management is going to be critical to ensure every guest has access to a minimal level of bandwidth necessary to perform the basics functions. The competitive pressure for mass personalization is going to transform what guests expect and how guests interact with in-hotel appliances and our hotel staff. We are expected to deliver faster and reliably at all times, and that does not come without financial tradeoff. Carriers providing Internet access capacity on demand so a hotel has the flexibility to increase or decrease needed bandwidth without paying for unused capacity will be necessary.

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