Once again, our industry’s biggest event – The Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition and Conference (HITEC), has come to pass after taking the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, by storm. The event, which attracted over 6,100 attendees from around the world, was an undeniable success (surely to no one’s surprise) as it celebrated its 50th anniversary.
Over the course of a few days, the conference provided top-notch education, demonstrations, and resources to hospitality leaders hoping to keep their finger on the pulse of the latest technology innovations to grace our industry while also allowing attendees to network and celebrate with their peers.
Of course, the close of HITEC is always earmarked by a number of memorable highlights and impressive innovations – if anything, it is often difficult to pay succinct tribute to the event. But this year, with 300+ exhibitors and over 50 education sessions, there were some undeniably stand-out takeaways: In-Person Events are Extremely Important to Our Industry
HITEC is all about connection: between hospitality industry professionals, exhibitors to potential clients, thought leaders to agents of change.
This year’s conference felt especially monumental, not only because it was its 50th anniversary but due to the position in which our industry now finds itself. After two years of unprecedented hardship, this event stood to culminate our long-awaited return to normal, as hospitality brands of all types look to finally move forward from the challenges that shook our industry.
This is, perhaps, the redemption arc in our story, and there was an undeniable current of excitement and relief making its way through the crowd of attendees that descended upon the convention center last week. HFTP CEO Frank Wolfe reiterated this sentiment following the event. “Throughout these four days of HITEC, you could feel a positive buzz throughout the event space and exhibit hall, everyone was thrilled to see each other and gather for ideas and solutions,” he shared. In many ways, technological innovation brings a promise of new beginnings, and I think we would all agree that our industry is due for a fresh start and a bright, digitally-empowered future. Trends Accelerated by the Pandemic Are Here to Stay
Experts agree that the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation by a decade. At the same time, Labor Department data reveals the hospitality industry has been down by just 315,000 line-level workers since before the pandemic. Combine that with the pent-up demand for travel, and you’ve got the perfect storm.
HITEC unveiled a plethora of solutions aimed at addressing these trends, including self-service, voice-based contactless customer engagement and touchless controls, keyless entry, germ-zapping robots, automation to drive efficiencies, and staffing optimization – just to name a few.
Inspiring Educational Sessions It’s no secret that our industry has had to make several significant and rapid changes to how we do business in response to (and in the wake of) the pandemic. Today’s guest has new expectations, and it’s our industry’s responsibility to get to know that guest and move with lightning speed to keep up with their demands. HITECs educational sessions featured well thought-out explorations of hoteliers' current (and future) challenges. Simon T. Bailey’s opening headliner presentation, ‘Leading with SPARK’ was inspirational. He is a breakthrough strategist, motivational change agent, and author. Simon has more than 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry, including serving as sales director for Disney Institute, and has worked with more than 1,800 organizations in 50 countries. He understands the pressure leaders and high performers face in the midst of uncertainty and equips them with simple, easy-to-implement strategies to accelerate results.
Metaverse is The Shiny New Object
“Metaverse” became a top HITEC buzzword the way that “AI” had been a few years ago. Although metaverse travel is not expected to replace actual travel, it will likely enhance the travel experience through virtual tourism. Emerging technologies like the metaverse, blockchain, and NFTs have a variety of potential applications for hoteliers. With this in mind, startups and established companies alike are integrating these technologies into their operations and teams to reinvent their processes and offerings. Currently, big brands are rushing to the metaverse, but the path to profit is still unclear and mass adoption may be years away.
Although it makes for interesting discussions and educational sessions, it seems to still be more of a shiny object and future consideration than a current reality for our industry. Let’s see what the future holds.
As an exhibitor, the TraknProtect booth was jam-packed from the moment the doors opened up until the end of the conference. This allowed us to introduce and demonstrate our platform to incredible hospitality leaders from around the world. As we look to the future, it is incredibly exciting to see so many hotels looking for ways to prioritize the safety and well-being of their staff and guests with the help of cutting-edge safety technology.
I am also excited to share the interview I did for WTF! Walk The Floors Podcast- All Things Hospitality Training - Watch the fun interview here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BW31HCdnhQU
E20X Winners The Entrepreneur 20X competition is always a memorable part of HITEC. It allows innovative hospitality technology startups to pitch their cutting-edge ideas to a room full of HITEC attendees and a panel of expert judges. This year, Entrepreneur 20X featured eight hospitality technology start-ups vying for the favor of attendees and judges. The Judge’s Choice Award, selected by the judges panel, went to ROBOSIZE.ME and The People’s Choice Award, which was popular, went to Beachy.
TraknProtect claimed the top industry innovation award in the 2019 Entrepreneur 20X (E20X) competition at HITEC Minneapolis. That same year, we were also named a finalist in the HTNG TechOvation Awards at HT-NEXT, which was held in New Orleans.
With that, another successful HITEC has come to a close, and we begin our countdown to next year’s event, which is scheduled for June 26th to 29th in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. We can’t wait to see everyone there!