Tech talk with Best Western’s chief digital officer
Tech talk with Best Western’s chief digital officer
13 NOVEMBER 2017 10:16 AM

Greg Adams, VP and chief digital officer at Best Western Hotels & Resorts, sat down with Hotel News Now at the company’s recent convention to talk about technology trends, cyber security and what’s next in terms of technology in the hotel industry. 

NASHVILLE, Tennessee—Best Western Hotels & Resorts continues to innovate and incorporate technology into the business, and Greg Adams, VP and chief digital officer at the company, sat down with Hotel News Now at the brand’s conference to talk about trends and the future of technology in the hotel industry.

One topic that was top-of-mind for Adams during the conversation was cyber security and protecting guest information. It’s something the industry has to deal with and will continue to deal with, he said, and from his perspective, it’s the technology-related issue that could have the biggest effect on the industry.

“I think cyber security has the potential to have the biggest impact, but not necessarily in a good way, but it’s the one that’s going to require a great deal of resources and attention, and it’s only going to become more,” he said. “As we become smarter, the cyber criminals are also becoming smarter. And it really is a never-ending battle.”

Best Western is tackling cyber security in an effort to prevent attacks by offering a security service to managed hotels that “acts as a gateway between the internet and our property system,” Adams said.

He added that the service “allows the hotels to better set up their internal networks and the devices on their networks in a safer manner.”

Adams said Best Western works with a vendor that tests the security of the network by doing a penetration test and acting as a bad guy, and while there isn’t a network that can’t be attacked, Adams said what matters is how fast hotels address an attack.

“The issue more is, how fast do you catch it and how quickly do you respond to it?” he said. “That’s the thing. You always want to really focus in on making it as hard as possible, and then being able to identify any threats as quickly as possible and taking action to minimize your risk, if not eliminate it.”

Tech trends
The hotel industry might have a few technology-related challenges to face, but there are also quite a few opportunities, Adams said.

Adams named virtual reality, augmented reality, voice recognition, artificial intelligence and biometrics as a few trends that have the potential to affect the hotel space. During a general session at the convention, Best Western President and CEO David Kong said Best Western is testing out voice recognition in hotel rooms.

Adams noted the larger tech community believes artificial intelligence could be profoundly impactful.

“I think AI, which has been around for a long, long time, everybody is kind of talking about it like it’s new … I think that has a huge upside, it’s why Bill Gates says it’s really going to be one of the technologies that has the most potential to change the world and Elon Musk says it’s probably the one that’s going to end the world,” he said.

He added that technology can be a useful tool in the hotel industry, but hoteliers need to make sure they’re implementing technology to better the guest and or business experience.

“I think that you have to focus on (the end in mind), and the end in mind needs to be either you’re making the guest experience better or you’re making the hotelier’s business better, not doing technology for technology’s sake,” he said. “That’s where I usually see people misstep because they become enamored with technology.”

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