Today at HITEC (Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition and Conference) in Anaheim, CA, Sheraton Hotel & Resorts announced their plans to roll-out Windows 7 across their “Link@Sheraton” locations. I was able to chat with Mark McBeth who is the Vice President of IT for Starwood Hotels & Resorts (the parent company for Sheraton) to get some more details and insight into their plans:
Brandon LeBlanc: So tell me about the Link@Sheraton and your Windows 7 plans.
Mark McBeth: The Link@Sheraton is a social area in the lobbies of some of our Sheraton hotels that includes computers and technology resources for our guests. We’re working closely with Microsoft and will have Windows 7 available on the Link@Sheraton machines in select Sheraton locations later this summer – that’s before Windows 7 is even publicly available. What’s great about this arrangement is that our customers will be able to experience Windows 7, get a feel for some of the new features, and experiment with some of the applications we’ve developed in cooperation with Microsoft specifically for Link@Sheraton – all while being connected with the latest technologies.
Brandon LeBlanc: How is this deployment impacting your IT Department on the back-end?
Mark McBeth: It’s allowing us to develop our knowledge base on Windows 7. We support 480 hotels across North America and the deployment at the Link@Sheraton locations is serving as our testing grounds for a broader deployment across our national infrastructure. So it’s serving two purposes: customer satisfaction for our hotel guests, and hands-on experience with the OS for our IT Pros.
Brandon LeBlanc: What’s the general feedback you’ve received from your IT Pros on Windows 7 thus far?
Mark McBeth: From an IT perspective, we’ve received positive feedback on the performance and stability. For us, those are the very first things we look for in an OS for Sheraton. Stemming from the encouraging results we saw with our initial tests running Windows 7 on the Link@Sheraton machines, we expanded our current deployment to some of our production machines. We have about 40-50 machines at this point and once the general release comes later this fall, we plan to make Windows 7 our standard OS and begin to refresh our entire business operations environment.
Brandon LeBlanc: What’s the best thing about the Link@Sheraton and Windows 7?
Mark McBeth: It’s a competitive differentiator — we’re using the latest technology to help our customers get their work done or bring them closer to their families when they’re traveling. The Link allows them to do this in the lobby area instead of in some far away corner like in many other hotels. Plus, Windows 7 just works the way you want. It makes the user experience simpler, faster, easier and more fun – some of the computers in our lobbies will even have touch screen capabilities available for our customers to try.
Brandon LeBlanc: Thanks for chatting with me, Mark – I look forward to hearing more about Sheraton’s deployment down the line.
Mark McBeth: Thanks, Brandon.
For more information on Windows 7 being deployed across select Link@Sheraton sites, check out the PressPass feature here.