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 April 2018...

Guest Service: Empowering People

Excellent customer service is vitally important in all businesses but it is especially important for hotels where customer service is the lifeblood of the business. Outstanding customer service is essential in creating new customers, retaining existing customers, and cultivating referrals for future customers. Employees who meet and exceed guest expectations are critical to a hotel's success, and it begins with the hiring process. It is imperative for HR personnel to screen for and hire people who inherently possess customer-friendly traits - empathy, warmth and conscientiousness - which allow them to serve guests naturally and authentically. Trait-based hiring means considering more than just a candidate's technical skills and background; it means looking for and selecting employees who naturally desire to take care of people, who derive satisfaction and pleasure from fulfilling guests' needs, and who don't consider customer service to be a chore. Without the presence of these specific traits and attributes, it is difficult for an employee to provide genuine hospitality. Once that kind of employee has been hired, it is necessary to empower them. Some forward-thinking hotels empower their employees to proactively fix customer problems without having to wait for management approval. This employee empowerment—the permission to be creative, and even having the authority to spend money on a customer's behalf - is a resourceful way to resolve guest problems quickly and efficiently. When management places their faith in an employee's good judgment, it inspires a sense of trust and provides a sense of higher purpose beyond a simple paycheck. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.