Since its inception in 1986, Topaz Services has worked in partnership with hoteliers to generate more revenue through intelligent client centered distribution. From senior staff to voice center representatives and technology department folks our focus is, “Genuine Hospitality”. Our objective is to partner with our client properties to effectively support their voice center and Internet reservation needs.
In 2010 Topaz entered the Senior Living Sector with www.SearchSeniorLiving.com. This user-defined website allows those looking for the right Senior Community to enter their preferences and find those communities that most closely match their needs. Voice center support is also provided by Topaz Senior Living Advisors.
It is Topaz’s aim to create a partnership with its clients that reflects and enhances their image in the marketplace. On the hotel side of our business, the Topaz maxim is “Genuine Hospitality”. Our goal is to help create a lasting relationship between the client and their guests. We do this through listening to the expressed needs and preferences of our clients and offering a cost-effective solution tailored to those needs and preferences. In the Topaz voice center, we communicate with our clients’ guests with Genuine Hospitality, recognizing each caller as an individual. In the technical department, our Topaz staff creates Internet reservation systems that are custom-designed for ease of use and intelligent integration into our clients’ websites.
During times of transitions for seniors, certain life-choices become more difficult. One of those difficult transitions occurs when it becomes necessary to decide whether to continue to stay at home, or move into a senior community with its personal, educational and wellness support services. It was through the personal experiences of one of the founders of Topaz Services that the user-defined search system, SearchSeniorLiving.com was created to help seniors with this transition.
Topaz Services started as San Francisco Reservations in 1986, a destination-based hotel reservation service. By calling a toll-free number, a caller was able to speak with one of our hotel reservations agents, who had access to the rates and availability of nearly all San Francisco hotels. Using the caller’s preferred price-range, hotel location and desired amenities, the agent would suggest several “Best Values” and make a reservation at the callers chosen hotel.
Due to a productive relationship with San Francisco Reservations, in 1993, a popular San Francisco Boutique Hotel company asked Topaz to become the reservation department for a newly acquired hotel that was going through a complete renovation. Remotely linking to the hotel’s rates and inventory, Topaz processed reservations for the property as if Topaz reservations staff were on-site. Since then, Topaz has been offering on-demand voice reservation processing to hotels and hotel management companies nationwide.
In 1994, when the Internet was in its infancy, Topaz developed HotelRes.com, one of the earliest hotel reservation sites. HotelRes.com made the hotel information being used for San Francisco Reservations available to Internet users. A few years later, Topaz made that Internet reservation technology available to the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau and a number of local hotels allowing them to accept reservations over the Internet. That product has been updated over the years and is available to hotels and hotel reservation companies as BookAbility.
In 2009, Topaz technical staff began the design, user testing and implementation of SearchSeniorLiving.com. With its roots in the development of HotelRes.com, this website, completely unique to the senior sector, allows users to search for the most appropriate senior community within the criteria they define. This process makes a complicated search much easier.
Currently with its offices in Oakland California, Topaz continues to offer voice and Internet reservation processing services to the hotel industry. Additionally, Search Senior Living, by Topaz, provides seniors and their families with an easy way to find the right senior living solution.
Eric Gustavson, Co-Founder and President
Eric brings over thirty years of lodging, voice center and Internet reservations product development experience to Topaz. In 1986 he pioneered the city-based central-800# concept for hotel reservations in San Francisco. In 1994 with Eric Fraser, consulting engineer, he co-created one of the first on-line hotel reservation systems, www.hotelres.com. In 1998, he brought that capability to individual hotel and hotel management company websites with BookAbility.net. In that same time frame, Eric oversaw the launch of Topaz private-label central call center reservation services for the San Francisco Convention & Visitors bureau. In 2009, with Jackson Thompson, Arnold Bernabe and Jill Gustavson, Eric began the development and pre-launch of Topaz’s latest product, SearchSeniorLiving.com.
Jill Gustavson, Co-Founder and Vice President for Business Development
Jill brings years of experience in sales, client relations, marketing and operations to Topaz from her early career at the Fortune Five Hundred company, McGraw-Hill. Jill is the driving force behind the business development at Topaz. Her emphasis has been to evolve our value-based presentation, which highlights the company’s leading-edge technology and superior quality of service offered by Topaz to clients and their guests. She feels strongly that “what we do is important yet how we do it is vital to customer satisfaction and the continued growth of Topaz.”
Jill enjoys writing, reading novels, walking the trails of Marin County near her home, and enjoying great food and wine with her husband Eric, family and friends.
Donald Miller, Vice President of Operations
Don received his Bachelors Degree in Music Performance from the University of Lowell in Massachusetts. As a Graduate Teaching Fellow, he founded and conducted the University of Lowell Marimba Ensemble for which he authored many transcriptions. His work in the hospitality industry began at the front desk of a major hotel, as a means to finance his music conservatory interest, where he quickly rose to the position of Assistant General Manager.
He joined Topaz Services in 1989 after moving to California. During his 25 year tenure, Don has ensured the smooth functioning of Topaz’ operations, including; voice & internet reservations processing, telecommunications and accounting. “I find working at Topaz to be particularly rewarding. As part of a team of professionals, we support a strong portfolio of services and a large, diverse group of hotel partners. Each day brings an opportunity to learn something new about hospitality related technology, travel industry trends and about myself.”
Don is a devoted husband and father, spending his free time at the studio as a “Dance dad” and at the ball park as a “Baseball dad.”
Susan Marie Shebalin, Director of Contact Center Reservations and Quality Assurance
Susan Marie has been with Topaz since 1995. While keeping in mind Topaz’ main goal of providing Genuine Hospitality, she ensures the effective monitoring, training and coaching of her staff. Under Susan’s stewardship, the Topaz voice center consistently receives accolades from its hotel clients and guests for accuracy, quality of service, and sales performance.
She is a proud 5th Generation San Franciscan, who fell in love with the hospitality industry while living and working in Europe. While working at her first hotel job in a quaint little inn in Austria, and not knowing a word of the language, she came to realize just how much a smile speaks in all languages. After Susan joined Topaz, the concept of the “Phone Smile” became a part of each Reservations Sales Associate’s repertoire.
Susan Marie enjoys living peacefully at her home in the midst of the Redwoods, just off the California Coast. She loves photography and cherishes the time she spends with her family and friends.
Gabriel Ruiz, Director of Client Relations
Gabriel is a home-grown talent who has been with the company since 1997. Gabriel is well-versed in the different aspects of the company, having started as a Reservations Sales Associate. He is still known to take a reservation call from time-to-time for old times’ sake.
Gabriel has been responsible for training and operations. He has extensive system expertise, as well as being our internal and external liaison. He is the main contact for existing clients, and shepherds the on-boarding of new clients, and ensures prosperous partnerships.
Gabriel enjoys reading the works of author Wendell Berry, likes music by Joe Strummer, and is a die-hard San Francisco Giants Fan who is still relishing the fact that his beloved team has finally won not just one, but two world series. He lives with his wife, and new daughter in Alameda.
Jackson Thompson, Vice President of Technology
Jackson’s relationship with Topaz goes back to the 1980’s as a consultant. Since 2005 it has been his full time career. Previously he worked as an engineer and a manager in several high-profile Silicon Valley companies. As the leader of our technology department, he is hands-on and passionate about staying up to date with the latest technology and leveraging it to provide the very best tools for Topaz’ clients. His motto is, “The guest’s experience with Topaz is the most important part of our equation.”
Jackson avidly follows current events, politics, and enjoys a wide variety of culinary flavors. He is a devoted husband and father.
Arnold Bernabe, Software Engineer and Web Developer
Arnold joined Topaz in 2005. He graduated from De La Salle University, Manila Philippines in 2000 with a Bachelor’s degree from their highly accredited Computer Science Program, majoring in Computer Engineering. He worked as a Programmer/Analyst for Amkor Technology in the Philippines and has completed graduate courses in the interim, including System Programming and Website Development from California State University East Bay, as well as User Needs and Usability Assessment for Software Projects at UC Santa Cruz Extension. Arnold uses his high degree of expertise maintaining existing company software functionality, custom-designing Topaz booking engine products and developing call center reporting. He is responsible for the development and on-going front-end design refinements of SearchSeniorLiving.com and for the company’s graphic designs for marketing and other business materials. He is currently working on front-end development of our new web-based Call Center Application.
Nawal Khattri, Systems Manager
Nawal first joined Topaz in 1993 and worked 4 years as a reservations agent. He left Topaz in 1997 to pursue higher education and a career in the high tech industry. After working over 12 years in the Information Technology field, Nawal came back to Topaz in 2010 as Systems Manager. He is currently responsible for network & system administration, desktop support, and technical support to external customers.