At Hyatt Hotels, STHM alumnus finds room for growth
Prior to graduation from Temple University, Brian Erdman had always thought he would work in the food and beverage industry.
Erdman, who studied at the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM), instead found his calling in the hospitality industry. The 2006 alumnus works within the Hyatt Hotels Corporation, as its Manager of Global Property Systems at Hyatt’s headquarters in Chicago.
In his role at Hyatt Hotels, Erdman works directly with internal business groups to elicit operational and system requirements. He then uses this information to guide the efforts of various application development teams to ensure their software solutions align with the desired business outcomes and objectives.
“It has been very helpful to get that wide view of all the different operations that we have,” Erdman said. “It has helped me to design and change the systems we use to support those various needs.”
In 2012, Erdman worked with a third-party application development team to create an iPad app to expedite check-in and check-out processes. Today, this iPad app is a standard for Hyatt’s high-end and technology-focused Andaz brand. Hyatt is still in the process of refining the application, he said. Currently, 30 properties are using the application.
“The most challenging and rewarding aspect of this project was the work required to identify a hardware component that could securely record the guests’ payment information and create their room key in a wireless environment,” Erdman said. “We were eventually able to settle on a Bluetooth device that’s capable of performing both functions.
“Moving forward, we may want to use more of this technology so we can give guests multiple options in how they interact with us whether face-to-face or mobile technology.”
Erdman’s first foray into hospitality occurred while he studied at STHM and worked at Hyatt Regency at Penn’s Landing in his senior internship. Workweeks during his senior internship sometimes exceeded 40 hours, which actually worked in Erdman’s favor.
“Through this experience I was able to gain a more in-depth understanding of our operation and the hospitality industry, in general,” he said.
After graduation, Hyatt offered him a position at the Penn’s Landing location, where he became the front office manager. By 2008, Erdman had been promoted to a position as a rooms systems specialist at Hyatt’s corporate office.
“There was a project where we needed to go back through more than two years of housekeeping room assignment sheets to identify when a housekeeper cleaned more than 16 rooms,” Erdman said, detailing the task that led to his position at corporate. “To accomplish this I created a simple access database and worked with the housekeeping team to input the number of rooms cleaned by housekeeper.”
Erdman assembled several statements to showcase the work, and his general manager was pleased.
When Hyatt was looking to update its core property management systems, Erdman took the opportunity and made the jump to Hyatt’s corporate headquarters. For more than two years, Erdman assisted in converting each of Hyatt’s North American properties to a new system, which included systems integrations and extensive user training.
“It was 100-percent travel. I would arrive at a hotel, analyze its use of the current system, design the new system parameters and train their team on the system,” Erdman said. “This took about five weeks, and we would stay for one additional week of post-cutover support, before traveling to the next hotel and doing it all over again.”
Erdman built his technical knowledgebase through trial and error. He learned how to most effectively develop both system and operational processes in the hotel’s core property management system. When the overall system conversion was about 75-percent complete, Erdman left the road team and moved to the corporate headquarters in Chicago. There he worked to build a new team to support the remaining conversions and provide long term operational and system support for the converted hotels.
“In Chicago, we consider ourselves business support, if a hotel had a question about setting up bed and breakfast package, we would provide best practices and detailed instructions to ensure their desired business outcomes were met,” said Erdman, who has been promoted several times since moving to the corporate office.