Judges for TechOvation 2017

John D. Burns, CHA, ISHC—TechOvation Emcee

Hospitality Technology Consulting

Identified by Lodging Magazine as one of the ten hospitality experts changing the travel industry, John Burns established Hospitality Technology Consulting to assist hotels and other travel companies deal successfully with the increasingly complex world of electronic travel distribution. Born and educated in Canada, Mr. Burns began his hotel management career at university conference centers, first in Ottawa, Ontario and then in Vancouver, B.C. In 1980 he joined Hyatt International Hotels, initially serving as Assistant Director of Sales at the 656-room Hyatt Regency Vancouver and later in the chain's corporate office in Chicago as Director of Reservation Services. In 1986 he accepted the position of Director of Reservations at Phoenix-based Ramada, Inc., later becoming Director of Property Systems Support, with responsibility for technology at Ramada's owned/managed properties. Furthering his expertise in hotel reservation technology, in 1990, Mr. Burns joined THISCO (now Pegasus Solutions) as its Vice President-Product Development. Moving to technology-innovator INTRICO he developed that company’s customer service organization. Mr. Burns founded Hospitality Technology Consulting in May 1992. Since then, as HTC's president, he has headed this international consulting service specializing in assisting hotel chains and independent hotels in optimizing their central reservations, electronic distribution and revenue management programs. Strategic planning of reservations and distribution technology, marketing program optimization in the GDS and on the Internet and successful management of central reservation systems and centers are also core consulting interests. Mr. Burns, an AH&LA Certified Hotel Administrator (CHA), is a past member of the Global Board of Directors of Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP) and past Board Member of the Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association (HEDNA) and past chairperson of that organization's Technology Committee and its Applications Committee. In 2002 he received HEDNA's Outstanding Contributor Award for his support of the association's activities over the past decade. Burns is a co-founder of Hotel Technology-Next Generation (HTNG). In 2006 Burns was inducted into the Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP) International Hospitality Technology Hall of Fame. That same year he also received the International Society of Hospitality Consultants’ Pinnacle Award recognizing his expertise as a consultant in his field of specialization. He is active in HEDNA, HFTP, HTNG, HSMAI and ISHC. Burns has authored three training programs for HEDNA as well as numerous articles for hotel and travel industry publications - some now used as course materials by the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. He speaks frequently to hotel management, hotel school, technology, and travel industry audiences across the globe. Mr. Burns and his wife Judy reside in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Samir Abi Frem

Corporate VP, Information Technology
Rotana Hotel Management PJSC

Profile: As CVP IT of Rotana Hotel Management PJSC, Mr. Samir Abi Frem is responsible for all information and communications technology functions within the organization. He has more than 17 years of experience in Information Technology for the hospitality industry including 12 years at Rotana, where he built up the company vision in technology and formed a very energetic and professional team. He ensures that Rotana’s use of IT contributes to its competitive advantage by maximizing revenue and customer satisfaction and minimizing operating and ownership costs. He is responsible for the IT Strategy, new developments, Brands and Standards and the Centralized IT Services function. Achievements: Mr. Abi Frem acquired a remarkable multinational experience in In-room Technology, Systems Automation and Integrated Internal process in the service industry. With an extensive background in hotel and Information Technology management, he enforces high IT standards that are essential to successful hotel management. Since November 2013 he is a member of the organization's Board of Governors at Hotel Technology Next Generation (HTNG), the membership association that unites the world's hospitality companies and technology innovators to solve industry challenges. Projects in the Pipeline: In addition to the Rotana aggressive expansion Plans in MEA region, a number of large projects are currently being implemented; Such as Customer Information System, Consolidated Private Cloud Infrastructure, Next Generator Mobile Platform, Business Intelligence Tool, Revenue Management System and many other technology enhancements projects.

Floor Bleeker

Chief Information Officer
Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts

Floor Bleeker joined Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts in 2013 in the position of Chief Information Officer. As a member of the company’s Executive Committee, he is responsible for IT strategy, program development and implementation across the group. He also oversees the IT shared service organization covering Mövenpick Group, Mövenpick/Marché Restaurants, Mövenpick Fine Food and Mövenpick Wine. Prior to joining Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, Floor worked with the Jumeirah Group in Dubai, UAE for over twelve years, where he most recently held the position of Vice President Business Solutions responsible for the IT team looking after IT strategy, solution development, project management, portfolio management, international expansion, SBU operations and digital marketing. Floor brings over fifteen years of international hospitality technology experience to Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts. He started his career with the Rezidor Hotels & Resorts Group (formerly known as Radisson Hotels & Resorts) in Belgium and has worked in IT positions in the USA, the Caribbean and the Middle East. The IT team at Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts comprises over 100 specialists and has won several regional and international awards in recent years including the Hospitality Technology Next Generation (HTNG) award for an in-house developed rapid response platform in 2013. In support of Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts’ growing portfolio of upscale hotels, a number of large IT enabled programs are currently being implemented including PMS, CRS, Web, Distribution, digital guest experience and ERP projects. Floor holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) with a Marketing specialization from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS), and a Bachelors (BSc) degree in Hospitality Administration with a Finance specialization from the Hotel School The Hague. He serves on the Board of Hotel Technology Next Generation (HTNG), the world’s leading hospitality technology trade association, and holds a number of advisory board positions for other organizations. Floor, who is Dutch, lives in Dubai with his wife Anne and daughter Lauren.

Jeff Bzdawka

Senior VP, Global Hotel Operations
Hyatt Corporation

At Hyatt, Jeff is responsible for establishing and executing the portfolio roadmap of all Global Property Systems and Solutions deployed to support Hyatt’s global brands. This includes PMS and PoS, guest service and spa applications, guest Internet access, interactive TV and telecommunications systems. Prior to Hyatt, Jeff was the Executive VP of Global Operations for TravelClick, where he managed a cross-functional, geographically-dispersed team that provided hotel business process management and distribution solutions for 30,000 customers across 140 countries. Prior to that he worked for Pegasus Solutions as SVP of Service Delivery, where he created a functional service delivery organization with focus on enhancing customer experience and improving operational efficiencies. He also served as Pegasus’ SVP of Financial Services, focused on providing centralized travel agency commissions payment services and was responsible for product development, product delivery, sales and support for the global service offering. Earlier in his career, he served as the VP of Strategic Information Systems for Security Capital Group in Atlanta, GA where he managed IS for Homestead Guest Studios. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Wisconsin – Stout with BS in Hotel, Restaurant & Institutional Management, and is active with the university’s foundation alumni programs. He resides in Palatine, IL.

Dr. Daniel Connolly

Dean of School of Business Administration
Portland State University

Dr. Daniel Connolly is associate dean of undergraduate programs for the Daniels College of Business School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management and an associate professor. Connolly joined the College in 2001 as an assistant professor with a joint appointment in the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management and the Department of Information Technology and Electronic Commerce. Previously, he held academic positions with Michigan State University, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Cornell University and Concord College. He received his Ph.D. in 1999 from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. When working with the media, Connolly is able to discuss the impact and use of information technology in the hospitality industry. He resides with his wife Sarah and three sons in Centennial, CO.

Todd Davis

Chief Information Officer
Choice Hotels International

Todd is Chief Information Officer for Choice Hotels International. In this position, Davis establishes and oversees the company’s global information systems strategy on operations, information security and data privacy, global infrastructure, corporate systems and business intelligence solutions. He has been with Choice Hotels for 20 years and immediately prior to joining Choice, he was an engineer for Electronic Data Systems (EDS) Cendant Corporation. Davis is a graduate of Northern Arizona University, where he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with emphasis in hotel and restaurant management. He currently serves on the Northern Arizona University School of Hotel and Restaurant Management and Computer Information Systems Advisory Boards.

Peter Engel

Chief Technology Officer
Marcus Hotels & Resorts

Peter Engel is chief technology officer for Marcus Hotels & Resorts, a division of The Marcus Corporation (NYSE: MCS). Engel has more than 35 years of experience in the information technology industry. In his role at Marcus Hotels & Resorts, he leads the strategy and implementation of hotel, food & beverage, electronic distribution and guest technologies. He is also responsible for technology evaluations of acquisition candidates, IT support of hotel openings and business opportunity development. Engel has over fifteen years of travel and leisure industry experience, including serving as senior vice president at The Mark Travel Corporation where Engel lead the systems engineering, operations, and system architecture functions. Mark Travel is a leading tour operator with multiple vacation brands and manages vacation programs for major airlines and hotel companies. Engel also served as chief operating officer for Trisept Solutions, a leading travel technology company providing reservation systems and ecommerce to the tour operator and vacation travel industries. His roles during this time include heading software development, customer service, sales, and system engineering. Prior to joining the travel industry, Engel gained broad technology and industry experience during thirteen years at Tandem Computers (now Hewlett Packard).

Ted Horner

Managing Director
E. Horner & Associates Pty Ltd

In 1989, Ted Horner launched a consulting practice specializing in technology consulting to the hospitality industry. He is now widely respected as Australia's leading consultant in this area. In 1996 he launched Australia’s first dedicated hospitality technology exhibition and conference. Today this event is still going, and it is now called Hotel Operations Technology (HOT). In 2002 he was a founding member of HTNG and today he is an Executive Advisor to HTNG. In 2004 he was the first non-US person to be elected to the HITEC Technology Hall of Fame for his contribution to the advancement of technology in the hospitality industry. Since the early 90s he has travelled extensively throughout the world to speak at many hospitality technology conferences and has written many articles on technology that have been published all over the world.

Laurent Idrac


After graduating from French business schools ESSCA and ESSEC, Laurent Idrac started his career with Accor in 1983 where he held several positions in operations and support functions (finance, marketing and reservations). He notably managed all the worldwide call centers. From 2002 to 2012, he ran IT Departments for Accor North America. He returned to France in 2012 to be appointed Group Chief Information Officer for Accor. Laurent Idrac has taken part in numerous IT projects including the design and roll-out of TARS (The Accor Reservation system), which is used by the group’s 3,700 hotels, and of FOLS in-house PMS (Property Management System) in 1,800 hotels, as well as the management of CRM and sales force automation projects. Since 2012, he manages Accor’s partnership with the Innovation Factory, the first innovation campus cluster in Paris. In 2014, Laurent Idrac has also been elected member of the Board of Governors of the association Hotel Technology Next Generation (HTNG) which defines technology standards in hotels. Laurent Idrac, lives in Paris, France. He has a French and US dual citizenship, is married with 2 children leaving the US.

Wendy Mertz

Vice President, IT Applications & Strategy
Hard Rock International

Wendy has more than 25 years in the hospitality industry in a variety of positions and companies including Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line, Marriott and PricewaterhouseCoopers. She joined Hard Rock in 2000 where she directed the implementation of a variety of systems and created the system standards for Hard Rock Hotels. In her current role, she co-heads the IT department where she has financial and overall responsibility of both long and short term application strategies associated with the selection, implementation and support of restaurants and hotels. Mertz holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Rochester Institute of Technology in Hotel and Resort Management.

Monika Nerger

Global Chief Information Officer
Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group

Monika Nerger joined Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group in 2006 as Vice President of Technology, the Americas, and was promoted to global Chief Information Officer in 2011. Prior to Mandarin Oriental, Monika worked internationally with Pan Pacific Hotels, KPMG Consulting, Advanced BusinessLink and Royal Caribbean Cruise lines. As a writer and consultant, she has published several articles on subjects ranging from legacy application modernization, CRM in the gaming industry, to the use of satellite communications onboard cruise ships. She holds a Masters Degree in Business as well as an undergraduate degree in Computer Science, and is a member of Beta Gamma Sigma. Monika has a keen interest in working with and mentoring the next generation of hospitality technologists. Be prepared to debate whether technology in our industry is evolutionary or revolutionary!

Page Petry

Chief IT Officer - Americas
Marriott International

Page Petry is the Chief IT Officer of the Americas at Marriott International in Washington D.C., where she is charged with directing key initiatives from conception to completion, with responsibility for 3500 hotels that span from Canada to Argentina. Page joined Marriott in 1979 and has held positions of increasing responsibility in several areas including Hotel Operations, Customer Call Centers and Regional Information Systems. Following her initial tenure with Marriott, Page worked with Fannie Mae and Varsity Books.com before rejoining Marriott in 2000 as the Regional Director of IR North American Lodging Field Services for the Southeast Region. In 2006 Page’s accountabilities expanded to include the North American portfolio as the Senior Vice President. In 2010 Page joined the Americas Continent organization as the Chief Information Resources Officer. Page led the IT integration for the Autograph Collection, Gaylord Hotels and Delta Hotels and Resorts. In 2011, Page was honored with a place on Computerworld’s Premier 100 IT Leaders. Page earned her Bachelor of Science at Syracuse University and is a certified PMP through the Project Management Institute. She sits on the Board of Directors at the Academy of Information Technology for Montgomery County Public Schools.

Mark Rupert Read

Director of IT
Firmdale Hotels

Mark Rupert Read is currently the Group IT Manager at Firmdale Hotels PLC, a position he has held since 2000. Firmdale Hotels designs, builds, owns and operates seven hotels in central London with an eighth under construction, and opened their first hotel in New York in 2009, construction on the second hotel in New York is due to commence in 2013. Based in London, Mark manages all aspects of the IT infrastructure in the UK and US, which also includes telecommunications. Projects include virtualisation of systems, PCOIP, credit card tokenisation system, IP telephony projects including PABX virtualisation, wireless VoIP. Mark considers himself to be an hotelier first, and then an IT Manager, with over 27 years of experience in hotels, of which the last 20 have been running hotels' IT departments. A seasoned and measured risk taker, Mark takes great pride in regularly being the first 'Hotelier' to have implemented new technologies into Firmdale Hotels, but also adopted/endorsed new technologies for the hospitality industry in general. His role also includes being part of the Environmental & Social responsibly committees within Firmdale, and is becoming a regular speaker at events related to the hospitality industry.

Jason Shane

Senior Director of IT
Hersha Hospitality Management, L.P.

Jason Shane is Sr. Director of IT for Hersha Hospitality Management (HHM). Jason spent the first 10 years of his career by building an IT services firm in central Pennsylvania. In 2004, he joined Hersha Hospitality to build an IT department capable of supporting the rapidly growing hospitality organization. Jason reports to the CEO and leads technology strategy and planning including corporate, hotel operations and hotel development functions for the Hersha group of companies. Under Jason’s leadership, HHM’s IT team manages all technology for more than 4,000 associates at over 105 hotels across brands, geographies and ownership groups. Jason holds a BS in Information Technology Management from Western Governors University and lives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania with his wife and two daughters.

Nancy Wolff

Vice President, Hotel Systems
Jumeirah Group

Nancy has over 20 years in the technology industry, including over 12 years specific to hospitality. As Vice President, Hotel Systems, Nancy works to support all technology system solutions for Jumeirah and is focused on enhancing the guest and colleague experience globally. Her prior roles include leading multiple large scale enterprise technology projects in Washington DC working as an Enterprise Architect with the US Federal Government and large multi-national firms; as well as CIO for a large hotel management company. She established best practices and governance programs that analyze and improve IT capabilities as the Director of a large Enterprise Architecture and IT Portfolio Management practice. Nancy has worked with organizations to identify critical deficiencies and recommend technology solutions and architectures specific to business needs. She developed key system initiatives and technology standards to improve IT and business performance, and has established all necessary governance measures to ensure organizations are move effectively implementing IT solutions. Nancy holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) from the Nova Southeastern University, and a Bachelors in Industrial and Systems Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.