Welcome to “Insider Perspectives“, an interview series featuring travel industry insiders and veterans.
This week, we uncover interesting stories and insights from Ryan King , Director of Strategic Partnerships at StayNTouch. He had an early start in the hospitality industry — got his first job in high school — and expands his career horizon by making strategic decisions.
Meet Ryan and other thought leaders in our upcoming webinar on April 25th: From Booking to Staying: How to Increase Revenue Throughout the Customer Journey.
We’ll share how hoteliers can transform the customer journey from search to stay, delighting your guests along the way.
What’s your professional background? How did you start your career in the hospitality industry?
Back in high school, my sister helped me get a job as a busser in the full-service restaurant at the Seattle Sheraton (back in the ITT Sheraton days). It was great exposure — during my time at the hotel, I got to work in fine dining, banquets, room service, PBX, and front desk. I worked my way through F&B and then went into catering sales (doing weddings!). I worked for almost a decade as a sales, marketing, and revenue management leader before I made the leap to the tech side of things about 6 years ago.
What made you decide to make the career transition from hotel to hotel technology?
At the time, I was working at an independent hotel on Capitol Hill and I was approached by TravelClick. A former colleague of mine opened my eyes that perhaps a GM was not the only track I could take. I have always been a bit of a tech geek, and so when the opportunity presented itself, I jumped and haven’t looked back. I still love hotels but like helping hoteliers solve problems and use technology to improve the guest experience.
What’s your role at StayNTouch and what’s the most interesting, exciting, and enjoyable part of your job?
I help manage all of our partner relations – so I liaise among our product, customer care/support, and sales team(s). I interact with our partners and am constantly introduced to new companies. It’s great because I listen in on various conversations and can often help solve a challenge or problem through the collaboration of our partner network.
We have a strong partner network and rely on our partners to help fulfill our customers guest experience needs. Just last week, I got to hear about what two separate companies were doing and realized that there are great collaboration opportunities among the three of us to help create a better guest journey for pre/post arrival. It’s a fast-paced fun job and I’m loving what I do.
What are the biggest trends in the PMS industry now?
There are two large trends going on right now – “Cloud” and “Connectivity”. Hoteliers want to get away from having to maintain expensive hardware onsite and the cost of maintenance and upgrades that go along with it. Cloud technology provides a more secure environment and lowers a hotel’s hardware costs while providing a better means of computing.
We are in a tech revolution in the hospitality industry. Hoteliers want the ability to connect their data to multiple applications the way they seem fit. We talk about big data all the time — but the real need is to understand what that data can do for the hotel and what systems it needs to integrate with. From BI tools to guest engagement platforms, there are a number of new applications that have surfaced in the last couple of years. Hoteliers want modern technology that is going to help give them a competitive edge.
What are the biggest opportunities for growth for you and your company?
StayNTouch became part of the Shiji Group last fall. As a group, Shiji has a variety of technological solutions that enhance the customer journey. We are a rapidly expanding global company with a lot of talented people. It’s a super exciting time to be part of the company and there is enormous growth for us on multiple fronts. I’m very excited about how StayNTouch is providing technology that is changing the way hoteliers think about the traditional arrival to departure process.
A lot of us who work in this industry are passionate about traveling. So what’s on your bucket list for travel?
I love exploring new places and seeing new things. This summer, I’m traveling to Prague and it will be my first visit to the eastern part of Europe. I’m excited to experience the city and I’m told that I MUST try the local beer. We are also going to Seattle (for family), Palm Springs (for friends), and then Key West for the New Year. Over the horizon, I want to get to Thailand. I would love to visit Asia. I’ve had friends and relatives who have gone there and said it’s amazing. This is on the 2020 bucket list.
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
It’s so hard to single out one trip – I’ve been fortunate enough to have some really great experiences. Back in January, we went on a cruise which was sublime. Everything came together just perfectly — from the friends we were with, the meals we had, and the entertainment. I’m sure if we tried the same cruise again, it just wouldn’t be the same.
My 1st time to Rome was pretty epic — I was in my 20’s and it was my first trip to Europe. I like history and geeked out on all the ruins as well as the historic sites. That was a memorable experience. A couple of years ago, we were in Spain and spent 4 days in Seville which we walked all over. I remember the food and wine were fantastic and the prices were so cheap. We still to this day snack on olives because of that trip (the olives were heavenly).
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