Mark Lewis: CEO Extraordinaire Leading the Way in the Hospitality Industry

Mark Lewis | CEO and Founder of HotelREZ Hotels & Resorts
Mark Lewis | CEO and Founder of HotelREZ Hotels & Resorts

Mark Lewis, the CEO and Founder of HotelREZ Hotels & Resorts, is a remarkable figure in the hospitality industry, known for his exceptional leadership skills and dedication to excellence. Under his guidance, HotelREZ has become a trailblazer in the sector, driving innovation and setting new standards in hotel distribution and representation.

One of the key qualities that sets Lewis apart as a CEO extraordinaire is his genuine passion for his work. His unwavering commitment to the hospitality industry is evident in his relentless pursuit of quality-driven services and his unwavering dedication to exceptional customer service. Lewis understands that in the highly competitive landscape of the hospitality industry, providing memorable experiences for guests is crucial for success.

As a visionary leader, Lewis has successfully positioned HotelREZ as one of the world’s largest and most respected hotel distribution consortia. Through his strategic approach, Lewis has fostered global connectivity and formed valuable industry partnerships, enabling HotelREZ to offer its clients unparalleled access to a substantial volume of business. This has proven to be particularly beneficial for independent and small group properties that partner with HotelREZ, as they can maintain their independence while effectively competing with larger brands.

HotelREZ Hotels & Resorts, under Lewis’s leadership, excels in delivering top-notch technology, distribution, revenue management, consultancy, and digital services. By leveraging these specialized offerings, HotelREZ enables its clients to optimize their operations, enhance their revenue streams, and stay ahead of industry trends. Through Lewis’s innovative mindset and strategic vision, HotelREZ continues to revolutionize the way hotels and resorts operate in the modern landscape.

Mark Lewis‘s role as CEO of HotelREZ Hotels & Resorts showcases his exceptional leadership abilities and his commitment to driving excellence in the hospitality industry. Through his passion for providing exceptional customer service, fostering teamwork, and leveraging innovative solutions, Lewis has positioned HotelREZ as a leading force in hotel distribution and representation. His contributions have not only elevated the success of HotelREZ but have also had a positive impact on the entire hospitality sector, inspiring others to strive for greatness in their respective roles.

Mark’s exceptional leadership skills and dedication to excellence have earned him a well-deserved reputation as the face of the most influential leaders in the hospitality industry. In recognition of his achievements, he was honored with the prestigious “Most Influential Leader in Hospitality – 2023” award by CIOLook Magazine, solidifying his position as a trailblazer in the field.

Let’s delve into the revolutionizing approach Lewis implements to delivering exceptional results in the world of hospitality!

From Travel Enthusiast to Hospitality Industry Icon

Lewis’s journey in the hospitality industry began with his passion for travel. While studying at the University of Wales, Lewis initially considered a career in law. However, the allure of the travel industry proved too enticing to resist. He started his career as a Holiday Rep, gaining valuable experiences in various countries, including Cyprus, Greece, Turkey, and India.

He says, “In fact, we took the first aircraft charter into Kerala with Manos (a Greek company), which is now a thriving holiday destination. It was a little different back in the day, and the experiences of dealing with so many issues in different cultures have always helped me retain a degree of context with the issues we face.”

After his adventurous travel experiences, Lewis’s ambition led him to pursue a career in luxury travel. He joined a start-up tour operator specializing in luxury travel, founded by Sir Alan Sugar and Leslie Lucy. This experience laid the foundation for Lewis’s continued involvement in the hospitality sector. He later joined Utell International, which eventually merged with Pegasus Solutions, now part of Cendyn. In 2004, Lewis founded HotelREZ, embarking on a remarkable journey that would reshape the hotel distribution landscape.

He also adds, “We also built World Rainbow Hotels, the world’s only GDS-enabled consortia for the LGBTQ+ market and acquired Best Loved Hotels, which is a long-standing and admired British brand – both have allowed us to extend our global footprint.

Shaping the Future of Hospitality

Lewis, the visionary CEO, has made significant contributions to the hospitality industry. His journey from a travel enthusiast to a hospitality industry icon reflects his passion and dedication to creating exceptional experiences for both hotels and travelers. Through HotelREZ, Lewis has transformed hotel distribution and representation, establishing the company as a global leader with a commitment to quality-driven services, global connectivity, and industry partnerships.

Lewis’s leadership style, focused on fairness, honesty, and fun, has fostered a collaborative and engaged team at HotelREZ. With an emphasis on innovation and technology while maintaining the integrity of the industry, HotelREZ strikes a balance between tradition and forward-thinking. The company’s commitment to sustainability and social responsibility further demonstrates its dedication to making a positive impact.

As HotelREZ continues to flourish under Lewis’s guidance, his vision of creating something special and leaving a lasting legacy remains at the forefront. With an unwavering commitment to delivering on promises and a belief in the power of kindness, Lewis and HotelREZ are shaping the future of the hospitality industry, leaving an indelible mark on the sector they serve.

The core mission of HotelREZ is to provide a comprehensive solution that generates higher-value business for clients while simultaneously reducing costs and increasing overall profit margins. The company boasts a global team comprising experts in distribution, sales, and the hotel industry. Their deep understanding of hoteliers’ needs enables them to offer the best-in-class technology, sales, marketing, and full representation services available in the market today.

Driving Quality-Driven Distribution and Representation

Lewis shares, “I think initially the idea of travel was the key factor, but then, of course, reality kicks in, and you have to develop your career – I was always very ambitious and ultimately wanted to go out on my own after leaving Pegasus.”

Under Lewis’s leadership, HotelREZ Hotels & Resorts has established itself as a global force in hotel distribution and representation. With over 2,500 hotels in 100 countries, HotelREZ provides comprehensive global connectivity to the Global Distribution System (GDS), serving approximately 750,000 travel agencies worldwide. Their offerings include Channel Connect, a best-in-class Booking Engine, a suite of WebServices products, and seamless connectivity to around 600 Online Travel Agencies (OTA). The company’s API layer, REZSwitch, enables integration with any Property Management System (PMS) used by hotels.

In addition to its distribution services, HotelREZ also addresses the critical Request for Proposal (RFP) process through its proprietary tool, REZtoMarket. This tool interfaces with CVENT, facilitating the submission of RFPs from their global Preferred Partnerships. By leveraging their extensive network and global sales team, HotelREZ helps member hotels, calling it a ‘wish list,’ gain market share, especially in programs that were previously challenging to access.

A Multifaceted Approach to Success

As the CEO and Founder of HotelREZ Hotels & Resorts, Lewis has played a pivotal role in the company’s growth and success. He says, “During the start-up phase, it was pretty much everything as the company started from what would now be considered an antique laptop.” Lewis also assumed multiple responsibilities, including sales, account management, operations, and supplier relations. This hands-on approach allowed him to gain a comprehensive understanding of the industry and appreciate the critical links in ensuring hotel success and revenue growth.

Lewis’s leadership style emphasizes Return on Investment (ROI) while maintaining a strong focus on service delivery. Balancing technology-driven solutions with personalized service remains a constant challenge in the hospitality industry, and Lewis ensures that HotelREZ achieves both at scale. His oversight across various areas of the business has fostered a culture where every team member recognizes their vital role in supporting hotels and driving collective success.

Fairness, Honesty, and Fun

According to Lewis, essential qualities for leaders in the hospitality industry include fairness, honesty, directness, and the ability to have fun along the way. Recognizing that people still value personal connections in addition to technology, Lewis emphasizes the importance of building relationships and retaining talent.

By developing employees, offering career growth opportunities, and creating an enjoyable work environment, HotelREZ cultivates a team that is highly motivated and dedicated to their craft. Emphasizing the same, Lewis shares, “You need to develop people, reward them, allow them to spread their wings and offer a career plan – hopefully create an environment where they love what they do, the tradeoff, of course, being that HotelREZ is the best at what we do–in my opinion.” Lewis firmly believes that a happy and motivated team translates into satisfied customers and achieving targets.

The Cornerstones: Collaboration and Communication

Speaking about the cornerstones of HotelREZ, Lewis says, “We all talk, meet, engage in a structured, positive way, are all on the same KPI page, and know where we are going.”

Fostering a culture of collaboration and teamwork is a top priority. Lewis and his management team have implemented strategies to encourage open communication and idea-sharing throughout the organization. Structured meetings, positive engagement, and shared Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) ensure that all team members are aligned and working towards common goals. The loyalty and dedication of the HotelREZ team have resulted in a nimble organization that can quickly respond to market needs without being bound by the cycles of larger corporations and does not have to react to the NASDAQ cycles in quite the same way.

Perseverance and Choosing the Right Team

When asked about advice for aspiring leaders in the hospitality industry, Lewis emphasizes perseverance and the expectation of a challenging road ahead. Revenue, profit, and cash management are crucial factors to consider, and Lewis advises aspiring leaders to surround themselves with the right team and supportive investors who understand the long-term nature of the industry. Through resilience, a strong team, and carefully selected partnerships, success can be achieved despite the inevitable obstacles along the way.

He quotes, “Don’t give up and expect a rocky road; many life lessons along the way. Revenue is vanity, profit is sanity, and cash is king. Pick the right team and the right investors who will support you in what could be a long game.”

Balancing Innovation and Tradition

For HotelREZ, innovation and forward-thinking go hand in hand with maintaining the integrity of the hospitality industry. Lewis, while discussing the quality-driven representation of HotelREZ, states, “We constantly work on technological enhancements for our hotels, seeking new ways to drive direct business, establish API connectivity, and foster relationships with relevant third parties to boost revenue.”

He further adds, “Technology alone, as provided by some competitors, is satisfactory, but how it is utilized is key. That’s why we have always remained a quality-driven representation company, rather than expecting the hotels to simply figure it out.” Instead of burdening hotels with the sole responsibility of adapting to new technologies, HotelREZ closely collaborates with its member hotels, offering a range of tailored services and solutions to address their unique needs.

Regarding collaborative initiatives, Lewis highlights, “Naturally, we are also globally preferred by the main revenue drivers on the HO GDS chain code, which is crucial for success. We work in partnership with our hotels and are also on the verge of launching our luxury soft brand.” The upcoming introduction of The Elegant Hotel Collection, a luxury soft brand powered by HotelREZ, further exemplifies the company’s dedication to combining tradition with cutting-edge technology.

He also shares, “In the near future, we will expand our web services offering for hotels, incorporating booking engine functionality that drives more direct business to the hotel.”

Sustainability and Social Responsibility

The importance of sustainability and social responsibility is increasingly recognized today. Acknowledging this trend, HotelREZ has embraced ethical practices and actively promotes these values within the hospitality industry. Lewis states, “Ethically, we strive to ensure that we operate in the most sustainable manner possible, and the corporate segment now mandates specific metrics for hotels to meet in order to participate in their programs.”

The company is committed to operating in the most sustainable manner feasible and has observed a rising demand from corporate clients, who require sustainability metrics for hotel participation in their programs. Lewis emphasizes the necessity for greater government support to expedite improvements in this domain. Sustainability and social responsibility are key topics within the industry, and HotelREZ is dedicated to playing a significant role in raising awareness and driving progress in these areas.

Aligning Stakeholder Needs

Lewis shares, “Since day one, we have successfully retained many of our clients, even in the face of increased market competition.” A critical aspect of Lewis’s leadership is the ability to balance and address the needs and expectations of various stakeholders, including customers, employees, and shareholders. HotelREZ has not only retained clients but also built enduring relationships, despite the challenges posed by a competitive market.

This accomplishment serves as a testament to the company’s open and inclusive management style, where decisions are made promptly, and a spirit of collaboration permeates throughout the organization. HotelREZ’s robust growth and consistent achievement of targets further align the interests of shareholders and investors, strengthening their trust and confidence in the company.

Employees at HotelREZ are treated with immense respect and loyalty, recognizing their valuable contributions and providing ample opportunities for professional growth. The company understands that motivated and content employees are the driving force behind its success. By fostering a supportive and transparent work environment, HotelREZ ensures that the interests of its employees are aligned with the overall goals of the organization.

Creating Something Special and Leaving a Lasting Legacy

When asked about his career aspirations, Lewis humbly acknowledges that there is still much to accomplish before discussing his legacy. Nevertheless, his ambition is to be remembered for creating something extraordinary in the hospitality industry. By delivering on the promises made to hotels, staff, and investors, and adhering to an ethical approach, Lewis aims to have a positive and lasting impact on the industry.

He states, “I strongly believe that kindness goes a long way, and I would like to think that everyone involved had a little fun during this journey.”