Richard Tudgay is the chief technology officer at Highgate, a premier hospitality investment and management company. He joined the organization in 2015 as vice president of IT services after almost 15 years at Omni Hotels & Resorts, where he served as vice president of technology. His career also includes IT management roles at Pegasus and at specialty retail chain The Container Store.
According to Tudgay, it was The Container Store that provided an education in guest service that he appreciates to this day. “They want every employee to understand how they do business. So, even though I was in IT, they made me work in a store for a year,” he explained. “That commitment to customer service really stuck with me, and I still use the skills I learned there in my day-to-day business dealings.”
In fact, Tudgay is known for his ability to forge relationships. When he was at Omni, he was charged with bringing together an IT team that operated in several divisions, including corporate, regional and reservations. He not only accomplished that task but also made sure the team established connections with other departments throughout the company.
At Highgate, he has done the same. When he arrived, Tudgay immediately encouraged the IT team to come out from behind their desks and get to know colleagues in other areas of the organization. Although it was a culture shift, it has paid off in many ways. “It not only has instilled a spirit of camaraderie, but also has allowed the IT team to get a more holistic view of the organization,” he said. “Learning what other departments do has given them big-picture insights that are especially helpful when planning for technology.”
As Highgate’s portfolio expanded, Tudgay also recognized an opportunity to operate more cost effectively. “As I began working with the company’s revenue and operations teams, I realized we needed to outsource more of our IT support as we continued to grow.” He moved Highgate to an outsource model, which not only has saved the company hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years but also has enabled its dedicated IT team to become stronger and more agile. “I retained my top associates, who now manage and oversee relationships with our various vendors,” he said.
As for the future, Highgate is implementing more contactless solutions, including mobile key and kiosk. “Hospitality technology was already moving in this direction, but the pandemic has accelerated the process,” Tudgay said.