For Customer Satisfaction, Keep It Simple

Forecasting major transformation to the travel industry on the horizon, Raman Bukkapatnam, CIO of Marriott Vacations Worldwide, is focusing on streamlining.

From leadership roles at Nike and Starbucks, to his current position as CIO of Marriott Vacations Worldwide, Raman Bukkapatnam has spent his career driving digital transformation for consumer lifestyle brands. And as modern travelers rely on technology more than ever before, he recognizes the fundamental need for seamless and efficient processes.

Bukkapatnam spoke with StrategicCIO360 to share how he’s now helping the vacation company to balance simplification and innovation to better position it for growth.

You’re joining Marriott Vacations Worldwide from iconic consumer brands like Nike and Starbucks. What perspective from those roles will you bring as you step into the leisure travel industry for the first time?

Consumer lifestyle brands share many similarities, whether they are in the coffee, retail, fashion or travel industries. Brands must appeal to and prioritize their consumers—in our case our owners and guests—and their unique needs. In this dynamic digital world, meeting the consumer where and how they want, while also providing unparalleled connected experiences, is the key. 

When I took this role, I brought a perspective that’s been shaped by years of work in the lifestyle space and creating digital experiences based on data and value creation. Simplifying and streamlining core foundational digital processes and automation for scale, optimization and performance will be some of my focus areas. Seamless and frictionless experiences are key.

What attracted you to the CIO role at Marriott Vacations Worldwide?

The leisure travel industry is a fascinating ecosystem and one I’ve always been interested in. The sector is consistently evolving to meet consumer needs. The way we travel today is very different than how we did a few years back. Travelers are more plugged into and dependent on technology than ever before. 

There is a strong need across the industry to modernize the systems landscape, streamline processes, simplify and create efficiencies. The industry at large is on the verge of major innovation and transformation, and the need for data driven solutions is becoming increasingly important. 

Our IT team at Marriott Vacations Worldwide has a great opportunity to elevate and scale technology to support the growth of the company and enhance the experience for our owners and guests.

While attracted to the industry itself, I was also truly impressed by the company’s leadership team. Their collective tenure within the organization not only reflects their deep-seated expertise, but also their strength and resiliency. I knew I would enjoy partnering with them to modernize the company’s global technology footprint. 

What tech trends are you most interested in?

Much like the travel industry, technology is everchanging. Blockchain, metaverse, automation, and AI/robotics are some of the rising trends most interesting to me.

AI is changing faster than any technology we’ve seen, and it has the potential to help us create efficiencies to better serve our owners and provide them with even more incredible vacation experiences.

How can companies like Marriott Vacations Worldwide leverage technology to positively impact employee and consumer experiences?

Marriott Vacations Worldwide is making significant investments in technology to positively impact our associates, owners, members and guests. 

We will simplify the consumer journey and create efficiencies by focusing on data and hyper-personalization. In addition, we will be focusing on reducing technical debt and modernizing our technology platforms. This will allow us to create unique, seamless experiences for each owner and guest. We are also exploring different types of automation that can create efficiencies for our associates.

Marriott Vacations Worldwide recognizes the significant opportunities emerging technologies can provide. We are continually watching for innovation that can elevate and empower our business, owners and guests.

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