Editorial Board   Guest Author

Mr. Gaston

Gareth Gaston

Senior Vice President Global eCommerce, Wyndham Hotel Group

An experienced and accomplished e-commerce executive, Gareth Gaston has spent over 16 years in the hospitality industry and currently serves as senior vice president, Global e-Commerce for Wyndham Hotel Group and its portfolio of more than 7,260 hotels. In that role, he serves as the architect and driver for the company’s overall online strategy and presence, including oversight for Wyndham’s involvement in RoomKey.com Since joining Wyndham in late 2010, Mr. Gaston has led a complete transformation of how the company conducts its business online and established the organization as a leader in the space. Among his most recent accomplishments: launching new websites, mobile sites and select apps for the company’s 15 brand portfolio; creating a revolutionary partnership between TripAdvisor and Wyndham to display trusted, independent ratings and reviews directly on all of Wyndham’s consumer facing sites; and the launch of WynReview, a ground breaking tool that feeds Wyndham-solicited guest feedback into the TripAdvisor ecosystem while providing owners with an easier way to manage their hotel’s online reputation. Prior to Wyndham, Mr. Gaston served as managing director and CEO for OctopusTravel.com, an online hotel retailer owned by Travelport, operating businesses in over 20 countries in Europe & Asia. Gaston successfully turned the company around through an extensive global reorganization and delivery of a new multi-million dollar technology platform, while transitioning to a business-to-consumer offering resulting in growth for the company for the first time in several years. Prior to Travelport, Mr. Gaston served in distribution and marketing roles for various hospitality and travel companies including long-time Wyndham Hotel Group franchisee Ramada Jarvis Hotels as well as Hilton Worldwide and Stakis Hotels. Always at the cutting edge, Gaston built his first hotel chain website in 1996 and then led Hilton to be the first global chain to establish local language booking engines across Europe and in Japan. Mr. Gaston is currently studying for an executive MBA through the TRIUM program and is a graduate of the University of West of Scotland where he received his bachelor’s degree in Marketing. In 2000, he was honored by Hotel and Catering magazine with the prestigious Acorn award, which recognizes the U.K. hotel industry’s top 30 individuals under 30. He is a regular guest speaker at industry conferences and has recently spoken at events for organizations such as the United Nations Tourism Council, PhoCusWright, EyeForTravel, eTail and AdTech. In addition, he also serves on industry advisory boards for Jet Blue and TripAdvisor, as well as LocalBigWig.com, an internet start-up specializing in corporate housing and extended stay home rentals. He is based in Wyndham Hotel Group’s Parsippany, N.J., offices.

Mr. Gaston can be contacted at 44-0-20-7383-2335 or gareth.gaston@wyndhamworldwide.com

Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.