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Rajiv Castellino

Rajiv Castellino

Great Wolf Resorts


What are some of your responsibilities?
In my capacity as CIO, I provide strategic technology direction and information technology management for Great Wolf Resorts, ensuring IT is completely aligned with our operations and business goals.  My team is responsible for all technologies at our corporate offices, resorts and central reservations call center. 

What do you like most about your job?
It’s fulfilling to know that what we do everyday helps provide the backbone for an experience that brings joy and positive memories for hundreds of thousands of families every year.  It’s also incredibly exciting being part of building a brand and working for a growth company, where technology not only plays an important role but is used as an enabler to drive revenue and reduce costs while maximizing efficiencies.  Being our own brand gives us the opportunity to control and set standards for all our infrastructure and systems and helps define our unique form of entertainment.

What do you like least about your job?
Although we’re always looking for ways to use technology to enhance the guest experience, due to budget and time constraints, we’re unable to get everything done and are unable to please every department.

Where did you go to school? What was your major?
I hold a Bachelor of Science and an MBA in marketing and finance from India and an MBA in information technology from the University of Dallas, Texas.

What is your favorite movie?
The Shawshank Redemption

What is your favorite song?
"Sultans of Swing" – Dire Straits

What is your favorite line from a movie or song?
“Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”  (Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption)

What was your first job?
I started as a night auditor at a Howard Johnson in Dallas, so I’ve been engrained in the hospitality industry for some time.

What was your most interesting day at work?
While working for a different company, a few years ago – during a visit to one of our New York hotels in Manhattan - in the middle of a strategy meeting, the entire hotel was evacuated due to a bomb threat.  It so happens that the President of Pakistan was staying at the property.  Later that night, I got to eat dinner about 30 feet from him, but was more conscious of the secret service teams (U.S. and Pakistani) watching our every move.

What would you do if you won the lottery?
Oh, to be so lucky!  I would first like to ensure economic safety for my family and then be able to share my good luck with the less fortunate.  I would also spend time learning new technologies and investing in them, but doubt I would give up working.

When you are not working, what do you enjoy doing?
My girls – that is, my wife and two daughters - are my life so every chance I get, I spend with them.  Getting my three year-old to understand why everyday is not the weekend has been a challenge, but it’s always eye-opening to hear her point of view.

What is the next technology to impact the hospitality industry?
Web 3.0 is the next stage of Internet development, and it’s all about the ways in which we can utilize the data that we will continue to collect from Web 2.0 to better cater to our guests.  Google, Facebook and other social media channels have launched us into the world of Web 3.0. With data being shared among search engines, merchants and social media engines; this allows connected sites, services and we in hospitality, to customize the guest experience, thus enabling us to predict guest-by-guest booking patterns and forecast the best times to offer up-sell opportunities through e-mail, direct mail or more large-scale marketing campaigns.  With the potential to know a guest’s Internet search patterns, friends' common interests, favorite movies, etc., we will now be able to cater to and communicate with our guests at a much higher level.

In this digital and technology-dependent age, enhancing the use of RFID to be your wallet on your wrist – right from opening your hotel room, to cashless payment through out the resort – will only enhance the guest experience.  All information gathered could then be used in more efficient target marketing to keep the guests coming back.  Most RFID locks also support NFC (near-field communication), which will allow guests to use NFC-enabled phones to open their hotel rooms.  Rather than wait to check in, guests could check in electronically, and the hotel could send the details of the room and key directly to their NFC-enabled phones, allowing the guests to go right to their rooms.

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