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 September 2019...

Hotel Group Meetings: Uncommon Destinations

The last few years have been good to the Hotel Group Meetings industry and that trend is expected to continue into 2019. Planners are brimming with confidence due to an expanding economy and increased job creation, which typically results in a boost in corporate meetings. Given this promising outlook, planners are trying to outdo themselves to satisfy the high expectations of their clients. One notable trend is to integrate unusual settings into the meeting experience, hosting groups at local zoos, aquariums, museums, event centers, or other outdoor facilities. The goal is to embrace uncommon destinations, rather than a typical hotel conference room, so that meetings can be memorable, unique and stimulating. This is also part of another trend which is to support all things local - from hosting events at landmark city venues; to catering through local restaurants, food trucks and microbreweries; to hosting off-site excursions like agri-tours, athletic events or scenic 5k routes. However, though the setting might be spectacular, there are still some bedrock components that must be provided to ensure a successful meeting. Free, high-speed Wi-Fi is still one of the most requested services. Planners have to make sure that a comprehensive communication infrastructure is in place so clients can easily connect - and stay connected - to the network throughout the entire meeting experience. Also, technology tools can be used to streamline the booking, registration, and check-in process, and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) materials can be utilized to ensure seamless access to conference events. There are also numerous software tools that encourage audience participation, as well as integrating polls, Q&A, surveys and games into speakers' presentations. The September Hotel Business Review will examine issues relevant to group meetings and will report on what some hotels are doing to promote this sector of their operations.