Embracing technology has iconic hospitality brand facing the future

Four Seasons CIO Marco Trecroce is clear about where the luxury hospitality company was technology- and process-wise a decade ago: manual and inconsistent HR practices; time-intensive paper records and reporting; limited visibility into workforce data; and multiple versions of the truth from an employee’s perspective. Cutting edge? Not even close.

“Just eight years ago, we weren’t spending [much] on technology,” said Trecroce, who joined past President of the CIO Association of Canada Gary Davenport and Workday CTO Dan Wesley in a recent webinar Using the Cloud to Get the Best from Your Employees – The Four Seasons Story.

“Cloud was nonexistent for us back then. Today, tech is paramount to our success. We’re now quite advanced technologically — certainly in hospitality and perhaps across the board.”

Two-phase plan

Marco Trecroce

This is not to say the Four Seasons’ evolution just magically happened. According to Trecroce, it was all part of a plan he and his team crafted and set deliberately into motion in two phases.

In the first five years of the plan, the company focused on foundational pieces like cloud, infrastructure, and security in the properties it manages around the world. The Four Seasons is currently partway through its second phase, and it’s been all about transformation and the introduction of guest-facing technology, mobile apps, chat, hotel operations, collaboration, and guest recognition into the overall Four Seasons experience.

Key decision

Key to getting the DX ball rolling for Trecroce when he first started as CIO was in making the right choice on a software solution that his executive asked him to review.

“My executive told me [the company’s HR department] was evaluating this new technology called Workday, and could I review this particular technology and provide a recommendation against some of the other technologies that they were evaluating at the time.”

In the end, Trecroce was instrumental in the company’s decision to go with Workday. “I think I was a visionary to figure out that Workday was going to help us be successful,” he said. “I saw the vision of Workday being software-as-a-service. It was modern, it was new, it was the beginning of a new wave. People were talking about cloud back then, about the need to go into it. I knew for us that was the only way to solve global [challenges facing us].”

Workday was architected for the internet, and Trecroce understood innately, from previous experience, what Workday was doing and where they wanted to go with their offering. “I knew right away that [Workday’s] architecture was going to be very successful.”

For someone in Trecroce’s position, speed of implementation was a must-have, and Workday allowed for implementation without the need for long stretches of time.

Time of the essence

“The overall time to implement software-as-a-service was very short. We’ve gone around the world in a year and a half. At the time, eight years ago, that was considered quite fast. Our business had never seen that kind of speed before … and success.”

Language and mobility

Also of great importance was language support — another point on which Workday delivered in spades. “The languages were paramount,” said Trecroce. “We had to have support for all of the languages [around the world] of our modern workforce. But [our workforce] is also very mobile. We have a transient workforce. All our executives live on airplanes, and mobility was very important.”

A customer-first approach

Trecroce sees Workday as a company that cares what its customers want and need. “The Workday community takes an innovative approach to soliciting requirements from their customers to help build a roadmap. I’d never seen that before with other technology vendors.”

The right fit

“The one key area for us,” Trecroce continued, “was [and still is] cultural fit.” To this day, the Four Seasons CIO and his team look at vendors carefully to make sure there’s a match with their culture, and he thought Workday did a great job doing that.

Quotes from Four Seasons

Trecroce presented some telling thoughts from individuals working at Four Seasons hotels around the world:

  • Visibility plus: “We were surprised when we went live with Workday and had more employees than we realized that we had. We had employees that were previously not accounted for. Now it’s a one-for-one. Everyone is on the same page.”
  • Easy access to data: “Having a global platform with all hotels on one system is phenomenal. Now we have information at our fingertips — there is no comparison to our before and after Workday state.”

The CTO’s take

While Workday CTO Dan Wesley was happy to receive Trecroce’s praise for his company’s product, his overall tone was one of humility. “Our approach involves architecting for change, [making possible] tech adoption without disruption, and designing for everyone, with the idea that technology is worthless if everyone can’t use it,” he said.

Wesley pointed to its “all in one” concept as being key to its success. “What makes us different is that we only offer one thing — everything in one platform: one source for data, one security model, one experience.”

To Wesley, there is great value for customers in having a single data platform, from gathering to storing to intelligence all the way through to security. For Trecroce, however, Workday’s true value is in helping companies in the era of rapid change and workplace complexity. “Workday has proven they can help us keep up with change, and navigate the modern workplace and the people within it.”

View Using the Cloud to Get the Best from Your Employees – The Four Seasons Story on demand

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Glenn Weir
Glenn Weir
Content writer at IT World Canada. Book lover. Futurist. Sports nut. Once and future author. Would-be intellect. Irish-born, Canadian-raised.

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