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Nick Price

Nick Price

Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group
What are some of your responsibilities?
My scope of responsibility is quite wide encompassing – traditional IT, network communications, telephony and the newer areas of in-room entertainment systems and related content.  Another way to look at it is that I have responsibility at a technical level for anything that is digital or soon will be, which sort of recognizes that the knee bone is connected to the thigh bone, so to speak. Having said that, at MO we identify both business and technical ownership so that application and technology decisions can be made in partnership by the people most concerned, which I think is an appropriate and sensible approach.

What do you like most about your job?
As a traditionally trained computer technologist, I appreciate the breadth of responsibility that I have across some pretty interesting and rapidly changing areas that bring me into contact with people and technologies from industries such as consumer electronics, content/film/tv and communications to name but a few. With digital technology now entering the guestroom we get an opportunity to leverage these technologies and relationships to contribute to the creation of our core product – a five star hospitality experience. In other words, we technology folks transition from a supporting infrastructure role to one that is incredibly creative and important. I feel lucky to be at MO where I am able to exercise my creativity and do new and different things almost every day.

What do you like least about your job?
Monday mornings…, but I have never liked Monday mornings… Realistically – wearing ties.

Where did you go to school? What was your major?
University of Central London. Computer Science.

What is your favorite movie?
“La Gloire de mon père” (1990) from the book (1957) of the same name by Marcel Pagnol.

What is your favorite song?
I have a different favorite every week. Just now listening to Pink “Dear Mr. President” which seems quite relevant at the present time.

What is your favorite line from a movie or song?
Just one??? Well it has to be a Peter Sellers (Inspector Clouseau) line from the Pink Panther films. Pick from any of the following gems. Practice the Clouseau lines with a clothes peg on your nose.

Clouseau: Does yer dewg bite?
Inn Keeper: No.
Clouseau: Nice Doggy (He bends down to pet a dachshund. It snarls and bites him.) I thought you said yer dewg did not bite!
Inn Keeper: Zat... iz not my dog!

Clouseau: Do you have a REUM?
Inn Keeper: I do not know what a REUM iz!
Clouseau: Zimma
Inn Keeper: Ahhh.. a RRRUUUMMM!
Clouseau: That is what I have been saying you idiot! REUM!

Francois: Do you know what kind of a bomb it was?
Clouseau: Yes, the exploding kind.

What was your first job?
UNIX kernel developer for UK company creating large message switches.

What was your most interesting day at work?
Without doubt turning on HDTV in our New York hotel just in time for the Super Bowl in 2003. The hotel front line staff didn’t yet understand what HDTV was, so my team and I spend every available second chatting to guests in the elevators and corridors to let them know we had the Superbowl in HD. It obviously worked. At 3AM the next morning, I walked the floors of the hotel and was delighted to see that we had created room service chaos. Everywhere there were room service carts, trays and plates abandoned in the corridors. What a night!

What would you do if you won the lottery?
Stay in one place for six months without getting on a plane.

When you are not working, what do you enjoy doing?
Doing up my house in France. Playing the guitar and, given the amount of travel I do, just staying home.

What is the next technology to impact the hospitality industry?
In building wireless communications brought about by low cost mesh networks will change the way that we communicate with our people and manage our assets. Hopefully we will be able to become more proactive – fixing only what is wrong before it goes wrong, rather than today’s more reactive – waiting for things to fail – approach.

Another area that is worth considering is how and where we locate systems and manage them. I am a strong proponent of moving technology out of hotels and up into the network. Some of the larger hotel companies are well down this path, but for many of us, and for pretty much all companies internationally, we are only just beginning to understand this opportunity. Such a change is very necessary considering the large number of complex interconnected systems that a hotel must run today and the accompanying explosion of digital systems in the guest room. It is simply not feasible any more for an on-site IT staff to manage across this broad scope 24/7/365, even if a hotel could find and afford the staff.

Hotel guest rooms are multifunctional spaces and we expect a lot from them.  As guests we want to be entertained and stay informed while in our guest room as well as work and sleep. Communication with family and friends has always been very important and is becoming even more so as we try to cope with every increasing work-life imbalance. Internet as an enabling tool to inform, to entertain, to communicate is just climbing out of the metaphorical swamp and onto land for the first time. The intersection therefore of Internet and hotel guest in our hotel room is just beginning. Lesson for Hoteliers: Internet does not equal e-mail. 

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