Keryn McNamara is senior vice president of hotel technology at Aimbridge Hospitality, the global leader in third-party hotel management. She joined the company three years ago after working for more than 20 years at Omni Hotels & Resorts, where she served in a number of leadership positions, including vice president of hotel technology. Her background, which is in hotel operations, has served her well. “Technology plays such a large role in operating properties that it was a natural fit for me to make the transition,” she said. She serves on the 2023 HITEC North America Advisory Council and is a member of Women Leading Travel & Hospitality, an association that connects executive women across all sectors of the industry.
One of McNamara’s proudest achievements at Aimbridge has been elevating the status of the company’s technology team. “Often, the tech department is viewed as the group that doesn’t really align with an organization’s overall business objectives, but we’ve worked hard to change all that,” she said, noting that she and her team collaborate with every department at Aimbridge to increase efficiency and streamline operations. “We’re front and center at the table, which hasn’t always been the case.”
Additionally, she has spearheaded the Aimbridge Preferred Partners program for the company’s independent properties, which now number more than 100. “It’s important to our owners that we have an opinion on hotel technology,” she said. McNamara and her team are vetting a list of vendor partners, looking at everything from service-level agreements to cybersecurity. They also are negotiating costs on behalf of owners. The current focus is on core solutions, including property management, point-of-sale and customer relationship management. Later will come a host of other solutions.
The list of Preferred Partner criteria is detailed and covers areas such as security, regulatory compliance, industry leadership and financial backing. Also essential is the ability of the vendor to expedite implementation. “It’s critical that our partners are able to deploy solutions quickly and get the job done right the first time,” she said. Diverse interface capabilities are important too. “Property management systems, for example, have to be able to play nicely with a variety of other solutions.”
Ultimately, hotel owners make the final decisions. “We’re serving as a guide,” she said. “We’ve done the homework and created a package of standards, but owners have the last word.” It’s a work in progress, with new technology categories being added all the time.
Security is also a focus at Aimbridge, and education is key. McNamara and her team constantly instruct end users on the importance of staying safe and secure, not only in their business endeavors but also in their personal lives. “We spend a lot of time on cybersecurity training,” she concluded. “It has prompted our operators and general managers to really stop and think before clicking on links or responding to malicious emails.”
- Family: Married with two young daughters. “We also have a 250-gallon saltwater fish tank.”
- Hobbies: Cooking. “It’s my happy place. I enjoy trying new recipes and including my daughters in my culinary endeavors.”
- Go-To Periodical or Website: Women in Leadership, a quarterly publication focusing on the advancement of women in all walks of life. “The content is incredibly inspiring and motivating. Promoting women’s sense of self-worth is important to me.”
- Book: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. “I read it at a young age and it really opened my eyes to the outside world.”
- Music: Broadway show tunes. “I love to belt them out while I’m cooking!”
- Travel Destination: "I like to visit new destinations every time we travel. I have a hard time going back to the same place twice.”
- Advice to Young People: “Take chances and push past your comfort zone. That’s how you’ll find what really excites and interests you.”
- Dinner With: Freddie Mercury, lead vocalist of the rock band Queen. “I would love to hear about the inspirations that led him to create some of my favorite songs."