Believe it or not, HITEC – the Hospitality Industry Technology Exhibition and Conference – started in 1972, and since then, hotel technology has come a long way. In fact, for many established hospitality professionals like me, today’s key platforms are a far cry from yesterday’s platforms. Over the years, our industry has seen an influx of digital innovation that has transformed guest and hotelier experiences.
As we prepare for this year’s event, which represents both HITEC’s 50th anniversary and a celebration of our industry’s post-pandemic recovery, I can’t help but be nostalgic for the legacy memories and innovation that surrounds this highly anticipated annual event. I can’t deny that one of the main factors that made me fly to Orlando in June is connecting with the many friends I’ve made over the years.
In 1971, HITEC began with a vision and purpose: to provide a forum to promote and display the latest in hospitality technology. Today, HITEC is a well-known global event that brings together the brightest minds in hospitality under one roof for an event of premier education, networking, transformative technology and expert panels. Perhaps even more exciting is how the event seems to grow every year – attracting seasoned experts and young talent from around the world. In 2017, when HITEC debuted in Canada, HFTP noted that the more than 6,500 attendees marked the highest conference attendance in its 45-year history. In 2018, when HITEC called Houston, Texas home, its previous attendance record was broken again, as more than 6,650 hospitality professionals descended on the southern state in the name of innovation. digital. At the time, HFTP CEO Frank Wolfe noted that HITEC Houston was the busiest HITEC conference on record. Yet it was also the most attended global conference in HFTP’s 65-year history. This year, HITEC will surely be a little different from years past as we emerge from the COVID fog and re-engage with what we have long missed.
HITEC is also a mecca of opportunities for emerging entrepreneurs, thanks to the Entrepreneur 20X innovation competition. Each year, E20X features several cutting-edge startups competing for favor with an expert panel of judges, mentors, CIOs, and angel investors during a 4-minute pitch. Start-ups that effectively wow their audience have a chance to be recognized as this year’s Best Concept, a testament to the hospitality industry’s ongoing commitment to recognizing and cultivating new talent and technology. Last year, we launched HITEC TV: an online video content channel focused on the hospitality technology industry. These sessions were a carefully curated selection of cutting-edge programs and educational segments that worked to inform, inspire and capture the attention of hospitality leaders around the world as hoteliers participated in HITEC Dallas in person and virtually.
This year’s HITEC is sure to be particularly memorable, following the undeniable impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our industry as a whole. As hotel brands large and small enter this recovery period and hotels seek to rejuvenate their offerings with the help of technology, several relevant themes and considerations are sure to dominate HITEC 2022.
I expect digital transformation to be a big theme this year, especially the use of intuitive platforms that help automate backend processes and streamline the customer and staff experience. I expect to see an influx of flexible technology that helps relieve hotel staff of otherwise cumbersome manual tasks and a noticeable increase in self-service technology that gives guests complete autonomy over their experience. Beyond their usefulness as convenience-centric tools, these platforms will play a key role in the hotel recovery as the industry works to address its ongoing labor shortages and rehire workers. key talents. As this seems to be the era of personalization, I also expect to see an influx of smart room technologies and offers that allow guests to completely personalize their in-room/on-property experience and help hotels to differentiate their offer.
Finally, I suspect we will see a lot of discussion (and innovation) around smart revenue management and budgeting to help hotels learn how to protect their bottom line, even in the face of “unprecedented times” brought on by a pandemic or another world event. The HITEC presentation, “First-mover advantage: are you cutting edge or cutting edge?” is a highly engaging strategic management session examining current trends and their potential competitive advantages. Additionally, this session will dive deeper into the costs associated with emerging technologies and give hoteliers a framework to make informed decisions when considering a digital overhaul of their operations.
Of course, the predictions are just the tip of the iceberg. As any HITEC attendee knows, the weekend conference will leave no stone unturned when it comes to next-generation hotel technology. I am extremely excited to reconnect with industry peers and learn about the innovations that will drive our industry forward. Not to mention, the opening night (presented by VENZA and CyberTek) at SeaWorld Orlando sounds like a memorable way to kick off HITEC’s 50th anniversary.
HITEC has been a big part of my life in the hospitality and travel technology industry, and I thank Frank Wolfe and everyone who works for HFTP for their commitment to the people and companies that represent the best of what we have to offer. I would also like to thank all the people who have enriched my career through the exchanges we had during HITEC. I learned so much and for that I am incredibly grateful.
About Puzzle Partner
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Content Manager, Puzzle Partner
Puzzle Partner Ltd.