In our new series of ‘meet the team’ interviews with our hospitality team, we chat with Alan O'Riordan, VP EMEA.
Tell us a little about yourself
Well, as the name suggests, I’m Irish, although I’ve lived in the UK for over half my life now. At the tender age of 17, I left home to study languages at Uni and graduated with a degree in French and German. The master plan was to become a simultaneous interpreter in Brussels, but I somehow ended up in the world of industrial consumables in rural England instead. It may not sound glamorous, but it instilled in me a deep appreciation of just how vital the customer experience is to win and retain business in a highly competitive environment where the barrier to changing suppliers is low.
I moved into hospitality technology in 1999 and spent the next 21 years with 3 companies in the field of Property Management Systems, Point of Sale, Central Reservation Systems and other mission critical hotel applications. Most recently, I was co-founder of apaleo, an enterprise cloud PMS vendor.
What attracted you to join Alliants?
Great people, great product, great customers! I got to know Alliants whilst working together on a joint client project and was struck by the professionalism, knowledge, openness and ambition of everyone I dealt with. Then I saw the product, which blew me away, basically. And then I realised that this company was helping some of the world’s most prestigious global brands to deliver exceptional guest experience. I was sold!
What are some of your passions?
When I’m not immersed in the world of hotels and guest experience, I’m at my happiest travelling with my camera to far flung corners of the globe, engaging with local people and capturing images that might provide an alternative “lens” on a destination. Closer to home, I have to run and cycle quite a lot to burn off the calories I enjoy consuming with close friends in nice restaurants and bars around London.
Who has been the biggest influence in your career?
This is such a tough one! I can genuinely say there are many, many contenders… the visionary bosses I’ve worked for, co-workers with skills I could only dream of, industry colleagues I look up to, the list goes on. That said, I am a firm believer that customers are far and away our best source of inspiration and learning. I could reel off a multitude of significant moments I’ve had with various customers over the years, some exhilarating, some difficult, where I’ve come away knowing that I learnt a very valuable lesson that day.
What is a great day off for you?
A lie in, a sunny run or cycle, a hearty breakfast involving sourdough, eggs and great coffee, afternoon drinks with friends at a rooftop bar with killer views, followed by dinner in a buzzy bistro with my other half, Kelly. Not too prescriptive at all, right?!
What’s been your best travel experience?
Another tricky one! Anywhere that is exotic, off the beaten track, with welcoming and curious locals who don’t mind having their portrait shot. Cuba, Sri Lanka, India and Vietnam spring to mind immediately.
And finally… Your best travel tip?
Break down the barriers, get away from the tourist bubble and chat to local people who don’t rely on tourism for their living. It will completely transform your experience.