I spent a large part of my career with a leading hotel company in roles from GM, Openings, Sales, and Systems, and one of my favorite roles was Director of Global Deployment and Implementation. My team and I were responsible for rolling out new programs, products, and services for the enterprise. At that time, we had nearly 4,000 locations in 82 countries worldwide under 18 brands. I quickly learned we had two of the three components that allow a company to implement and innovate quickly across their locations—enabling their brand vision more efficiently and effectively. Those three components are dedicated resources, the right people, and the right technology.
We were great at the first two: having the right resources and the right people. As part of the global operations group, we had a dedicated implementation team. Projects could come from different organizations whose ideas and initiatives were formed by their subject matter experts. Once the project started approaching being ready for the field, they would engage with the deployment team. In many organizations I work with, this step needs to be included. They go from different disciplines to locations, often with different approaches and, more importantly, only sometimes thinking through the impacts and how the locations can best receive these new things that need to be implemented. That leads to the people. Our team had a mix of former operations leaders and talented project managers. We worked with the discipline team, pulled in change management experts, and worked closely with the project owners to ensure we could effectively deliver the project to the locations. We would execute betas and pilots at the locations to get feedback from our fantastic location teams and refine before launching out to the full brand, region, or all the above. Depending on the size of the projects, we sometimes went to the sites in the early stages to ensure we had a solid plan to deploy. These two components were rock solid, and the entire organization respected the team and looked to us for our expertise. But something was missing.
I soon realized our most significant opportunity was the need for excellent technology to assist in the rollout. As much as we thought through steps, change management impacts, and tested our approach, we sent property leaders a weekly email where they would learn what they needed to implement, maybe jump on a webinar, and often download their checklist on an Excel spreadsheet or pdf. The most frustrating part was that we couldn't get a good gauge of how this was implemented. We were asked for a progress update for essential projects to Sr. Leaders. We tried to survey our General Managers, but we couldn't get above a 30% response rate. If locations had to order something from a vendor, we tried getting information from the vendor on how many properties had placed orders. That also had mixed success. As happy as I was in this new role, which also allowed me to spend more time at home with my growing family after ten years of full-time travel, this was maddening.
Fortunately, that was about to change, and I would change how the company implemented initiates. A former colleague of mine had left Marriott and worked in technology. He had started his own little company that would allow companies to build different checklists, specifically for location openings, and get away from spreadsheets. This was a big win for the openings team. They could constantly make improvements and changes to their opening items and deliver them seamlessly to the properties, even the ones in the process. I invited him to our headquarters and hatched a plan to try something new. Instead of just using the application for a one-time delivery of tasks for an opening, I asked if we could create all 4000 locations in the application. We could then deploy tasks to all or subsets (brands, regions, types of systems, single state or country, etc.). Once deployed, we could easily change a date, change everyone's to-do list, get feedback from locations, and hold properties accountable for implementing new programs, products, services, and technologies. The best part is that I had unique, real-time dashboards and reporting. No more guessing where properties were in the process. The app could be used for everything from installing scent machines in public areas, to guiding conversions and acquisitions. This product is what today is known as Pacer.
At Pacer, we are not just a technology company. We have passion and expertise in deployment, implantation, openings, conversions, and onboarding. Does your company have dedicated resources, the right people, and the right technology? We welcome the opportunity to discuss your requirements in any of these areas.