Juan Carlos Carrillo – Karisma Hotels & Resorts
Juan Carlos Carrillo doesn’t believe COVID-19 has ruined the tourism and hospitality industry.
It’s changed it, though, and in some ways, that’s been for the better, he believes. As the director of IT for Karisma Hotels & Resorts, Carrillo has been introducing new technology services and tools to keep guests safe and comfortable.
From touchless check-in to electronic wristbands, many ideas he had pre-pandemic came to fruition the past year and have helped keep the resorts open. The company has opened three new hotels his year, too, for which Carrillo is planning technology integrations.
“Working for Karisma makes every day exciting,” he says. “We’re constantly innovating and undergoing digital transformation. If it’s not a new hotel, it’s a new kind of service or preparing to get a certification. I get to do what I love every day.”
Creating peace of mind
Karisma Hotels & Resorts owns and operates several resort brands with properties across Mexico, Jamaica, Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Montenegro.
Since being promoted three years ago, Carrillo, who’s been with the company 14 years, has been working on improving the guest experience. Many of his ideas have become part of the Karisma Peace of Mind campaign, a set of safety procedures implemented for COVID-19.
Guests had already been able to book their stays online, and now they can check in online, also, to avoid lines in the lobby and go straight to their rooms. Carrillo says he started working on this initiative just prior to the start of the pandemic.
“In Karisma, we envisioned this need and the timing worked out well,” he says. “It ended up being a great solution for COVID.”
The system, which guests can access from their phones, uses optical character recognition to confirm that the person checking in is the same person who made the reservation. To use this technology, Carrillo had to make sure the platform complied with Europe’s strict General Data Protection Regulation. It also had to comply with digital signature regulations and be worked into Karisma’s contracts and privacy policies.
He and his team also coordinated the implementation of an interactive television app for every room, which allows guests to see hotel activities and updates, check their balance, request room service and send messages to the front desk.
A secure connection
One of the biggest projects Carrillo has launched, however, is a bracelet system that shows guests’ IDs when scanned.
The bracelets, which are only used at Karisma’s Margaritaville Island Reserve resorts, are mailed to guests when they make a reservation. They work as a room key and cashless payment method and are synched to Karisma’s loyalty program so guests can earn points.
The wristbands will also be used at new hotels Karisma is opening this year. In addition to Margaritaville resorts opening in Mexico and the Dominican Republic, Karisma is opening a new Nickelodeon Hotel and Resort. Located in Riviera Maya, Mexico, the resort will use the bracelet system for hotel guests, as well as day visitors, at its water park.
To prepare for the July opening of the resort, Carrillo has been integrating the bracelets with Karisma’s internal systems to ensure they are secured to protect guest information.
Karisma’s many Wi-Fi access points also add to the cybersecurity needs of the company. Carrillo has partnered with Sitwifi to put Wi-Fi access points in every hotel room, as well as multiples in every public area, such as lobbies and restaurants.
“When you go to a hotel you expect the Wi-Fi to be excellent,” he says. “It can be a challenge to meet all those expectations, though.”
His work has proven fruitful as Karisma has been consistently recognized by TUI Group, the largest tourism organization in the world, as the number one hotel and resort company for internet service. The rating is based on guest satisfaction which makes it more meaningful, Carrillo says.
Do what you love
Having fewer guests because of the pandemic has been a challenge, he says, but he’s continued to “believe in tourism.” The industry is good not only for the economy, he says, but for people’s well-being, because it allows them to relax and connect with others.
Carrillo didn’t always know he wanted to work in hospitality, or even in IT, despite his lifelong interest in technology. As a kid, he watched his dad use technology around the house and was especially fascinated by how televisions and VHS tapes worked.
Despite his passion, he pursued a short-lived career in accounting before making the switch to IT. He knew he needed to make a change when his dad asked him if he envisioned himself waking up every morning and going to work in an accounting firm. His answer was an easy no.
“Accounting was, and is, an essential part of my decision-making process, but technology is on my mind morning, noon and night,” Carrillo says. “I wanted to do something I’d enjoy for the rest of my life, so I turned my hobby into my career.”
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