Editor’s note: Today’s guest blogger is Mike Blake, CIO at Commune Hotels and Resorts, a San Francisco-based hotel management company focused on boutique hotels
At Commune Hotels and Resorts, we have a clear vision for the future of hospitality. Our three brands cater to a clientele that’s diverse in its tastes, but unified in its desire for a first-class experience. From Big Sur to Hawaii, our Joie de Vivre hotels are local and quirky. The Thompson Hotels in cities like London, Toronto and Chicago have a more international flair. And our newest brand, Tommie hotels, will offer ergonomic rooms and speedy services like self check-in and gourmet food to go. We’re expanding quickly and anticipating the evolving needs of customers. We need technology that will take us forward, and fast. That’s why we’re using Google Apps and Drive.
When I joined Commune as CIO in April of 2013, we were using Microsoft Exchange, but with the growth we were seeing, we were in dire need of a flexible system that would help employees collaborate better together. We evaluated Office 365 and Google Apps, and concluded decisively that Apps would put us on a path of growth and innovation. This was an essential differentiation: technology isn’t just about what’s available today, but about what will also put you in the best position for the years ahead. Google is hands down the company best suited to carry us forward.
The strengths and vision of Google Drive, in particular, convinced us of the power and potential of Google Apps. It was clear to us that Drive was a particularly heavy area of focus for Google, and we loved that it was a core part of the company’s product strategy — that updates and improvements were happening all the time. In fact, I believe Drive is becoming the next new shared file structure — the next big way of saving, organizing and sharing all your files — as we move away from desktop network folders that hide behind firewalls and VPN access.
|Mike Blake, CIO|
Drive adoption has been swift and organic across our organization. For example, our development and acquisitions team has a shared Drive folder organized by state, city and hotel or location, where they store everything they need, like blueprints from architects in PDF format, which they then pass on to construction firms and other partners. Executives use Drive to share photos and video of potential acquisitions in JPG and MPEGs with each other, as well as competitive information. They don’t need a VPN and they can access the information from anywhere, whether they’re on the road or in the office.
Our sales operations team also created a set of shared folders in Drive, housed on a page built on Google Sites, with key information for our salespeople, like training documents, marketing campaign materials, promotional assets and property information. This solved a huge problem we faced after growing quickly without much central coordination, where employees resorted to emailing each other for information, often leaving them with either nothing or outdated material. Now, with Drive and Sites, our entire sales team can go to one single place for all the collateral they need. It’s become a quick success: not only do our reps spend less time searching for information, but we’ve seen a significant increase in cross-selling across hotel chains since all brands are in one site. Our teams are developing a more portfolio-focused, rather than hotel-specific, mindset.
Google Apps has already improved the way we work, but it’s the years ahead we’re really looking forward to. As an aggressively growing lifestyle company with an ambitious vision and big goals, we know we’re in good hands with a company like Google that’s always thinking one step (or a mile) ahead.