Taking Technologycurbside And Beyond

There are no long check-in lines snaking through the lobby of Wyndham International Inc.’s upscale hotels and resorts. Instead, guests are met curbside by handheld-toting employees who use a wireless service to check them in and whisk them off to their rooms.

Thank Lyndon A. Brown, 39, for making that seamless check-in — among other technological innovations — a reality for Dallas-based Wyndham International, which created the service with its ByRequest club members in mind. As the hotel chain’s manager of strategic support services, Brown, and his 10-person systems administrations department, brought the idea from concept to reality a few years ago. By investing roughly $1 million in the project, Wyndham became the first U.S.-based hotel chain to implement seamless wireless curbside check-in.

“When I travel, the last thing I want to see when I get to my destination is a long check-in line,” says Brown, who joined Wyndham’s IT strategic support services department seven years ago and manages an IT budget of $7 million. “To make sure our guests don’t have to go through that, we’ve pioneered a technology that expedites check-ins, enhances their experiences at our properties, and hopefully turns them into repeat customers.”

Brown’s technology contributions don’t stop there. He also implemented a centralized property management system for 30 of Wyndham’s properties and oversees a high-speed Internet technology system for more than 20,000 guest rooms and 500 meeting rooms. Brown, who was nominated for USBE & Information Technology magazine’s 2003 Black Engineer of the Year award, also oversees an enterprise-class e-mail system that maintains a 98.5% uptime capability.

Other recent projects include overseeing an infrastructure shift from Windows NT 4.0 to an Active Directory 2003 conversion and conducting a simultaneous conversion of a large, multi-server Exchange 5.5 infrastructure to a centralized Exchange 2003 clustered environment.

A University of Oklahoma graduate who earned a bachelor of science in business management, Brown started his career in the healthcare industry, handling employee benefits. He switched to the high tech field 15 years ago and says working in DOS- and UNIX-based environments in the early 1990s taught him the importance of staying up-to-date with the latest tech trends.

“I learned quickly that you either sink or swim in this field,” says Brown. “You’ve got to be able to adapt and learn quickly, or you won’t make it.” Brown also discovered that until about eight years ago, very few African Americans saw the technology sector as a career opportunity. “Company-wide, I would be the only one,” says Brown. “I would go into a conference or meeting dealing with technology, and 2% of the attendees would be black, sometimes even less.”

Challenges aside, Brown says he enjoys the sheer excitement that comes from immersing himself in technology for a living. To stay on top of trends in the rapidly-evolving sector, he attends conferences, reads technology trade journals and magazines, and participates in online newsgroups. When a new application or system hits the market, he’s ready to test it out and — if it meets his company’s needs — implement it quickly. “I’ve seen