Forty-year hospitality industry technologist Neil Schubert has joined Canada-based Hotel Communication Network (HCN) as Chief Product Officer. With 20 of those years spent spearheading the technology initiatives for Marriott International, Schubert brings to HCN a wealth of knowledge in application development, product management, systems integration, financial systems management, infrastructure, IT architecture, and field service. His goal is to strategically transform HCN into a global hospitality communications brand. HCN’s Navigator tablets are quickly gaining traction in hotels as a two-way communication device that easily and efficiently replaces in-room phones, alarm clocks, voice assistants and other electronics. Schubert will perform this role from his office in Wilmington, N.C.
“Neil has a keen understanding of hotel technology and how to balance the bleeding edge with a leading edge approach for effective adoption of new and emerging solutions,” said Kevin Bidner, HCN president. “We first met Neil while still with Marriott, as we installed our tablet and DineIN solutions at a 1,500 room Marriott property which was a great success. When Neil left Marriott, he joined HCN’s Advisory Board. We were always impressed with his passion for innovation and we feel greatly honored that he has decided to join us to provide his visionary leadership to the HCN guest communication platform. Driving ADR and reaching new heights in guest satisfaction are the missions we know Neil can help us evolve in our continuing quest to be the industry’s innovation leader.”
Serving Those who Serve
Serving on Advisory Boards is not new to Schubert. He has been recruited by several universities and leading hospitality associations to lend his expertise. Advisory posts include president of the University of Delaware Technology Advisory Committee, a member of the Penn State University Technology Advisory Committee, Advisory Board member of Hotel Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP), and workgroup and forum chairman for Hotel Technology Next Generation (HTNG). Schubert also served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Delaware educating graduate students on hotel technologies.
Prior to joining Marriott — where he held such prestigious titles as Vice President IT Business Partnership & Planning, Vice President IT Strategy, Western Regional Vice President (IR Global Field Services), Senior Director (International Financial Systems), and IT Director — Schubert served as Senior Director of Renaissance Hotels International, responsible for managing all IT functions at the company inception when it spun off from Ramada International. His hospitality career began in 1986 where he served as a Systems Manager for Sheraton Hotels. Immediately following his exit from Marriott, Schubert worked as Senior Vice President Global Product Management, Exceptional Innovation. More recently, he served as Senior Vice President of Product Management and Development for Cloud5 Hospitality. Prior to joining HCN, Schubert and his wife, Anna, took a year-long RV trip visiting 43 states across 33,000 miles spanning the U.S. and Alaska.
Turning Tech Noise into a Symphony
“One thing hoteliers are challenged with today is giving travelers a digital experience equal to – or better than – what they experience at home,” Schubert said. “Unfortunately, operators are getting hit with too much technology noise; I’m talking about spot solutions and micro applications that are taking over the guestroom. HCN’s Navigator tablets don’t just turn down the noise, they turn it into a symphony. Their tablets with audio docking stations replace most peripheral solutions and does it with an ROI that is not capital intensive. More importantly, it’s affordable for luxury brands and economy properties alike. Navigator not only transforms how guests interact with the hotel, the city, and their room, but it’s an interactive in-room two-way communication platform allowing guests to send and receive information, make purchases, order room service, report problems, and control their room with just a touch or voice command.
“Wi-Fi has matured to a point where hotels have a reliable wireless footprint today,” he said. “That was not always the case; wireless in rooms started out with very spotty coverage and made it nearly impossible for tablet providers to connect guests to the hotel. Those early adopters did not have the digital platform adeptness that HCN is putting into rooms today. Navigator is supporting brands’ desires to drive guests to their own apps using personalized marketing. Quick messages to guests via the tablet is proving to be a strong business case for improving the guest experience. HCN’s innovative approach to tablet technology and their team’s ability to look at applications through a unique lens is what made me eager to join the company. I look forward to helping them grow.”