Editorial Board

Mr. Belmonte

Steven Belmonte

CEO, Vimana Franchise Systems LLC

Since becoming the youngest general manager in the history of Holiday Inn at the age of 18 and later buying the hotel he started at, to holding the title of longest standing President of a national franchised hotel chain while at the helm of the Ramada hotel chain, Steven J. Belmonte brings new meaning to the phrase “from the mailroom to the Boardroom.” In 2002, Mr. Belmonte returned to his entrepreneurial roots and launched Hospitality Solutions LLC, a full-service, nationwide consultation firm specializing in lodging industry issues at the hotel and corporate level. Drawing on over 35 years of experience and key contacts both inside and outside of the industry, Hospitality Solutions was specifically designed to offer franchise negotiation services for hotel, restaurant, and quick service restaurant owners nationwide. In 2002, Mr. Belmonte launched Vimana Franchise Systems LLC. In May 2011, Vimana Franchise Systems launched the Centerstone brand as a three-segment franchise designed to create a fair and cost effective model for the hospitality industry. In November 2011, Key West Inns was re-launched under the Vimana Franchise ownership umbrella as a fun and uniquely themed leisure brand. Prior to Hospitality Solutions, for nearly 11 years Mr. Belmonte was President and CEO of the Ramada hotel chain, which had over 1, 000 hotels and nearly 135, 000 hotel rooms throughout the United States. He also served as Executive Vice President of the Cendant Hotel Division. Major accomplishments included more than doubling the size of the chain, adding the Ramada Limited and Ramada Plaza Hotel tiers, and launching the bold "Ramada's In/Holiday's Out" advertising campaign. As part of his plan to solidly position the Ramada chain in the upper-mid-tier segment, Mr. Belmonte also masterminded the revolutionary customer service initiative, Personal Best Hospitality, which offered tuition reimbursement and a variety of other incentives to foster a career path in the hotel industry. Please visit http://www.vimanafs.com for more information.

Mr. Belmonte can be contacted at 407-654-5540 or steve@vimanafs.com

Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.