HITEC 2008 Remains Center of Hospitality Technology Discussion

  • Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP)
  • 06.23.08
The 2008 Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition and Conference (HITEC®) was attended by over 5,200 hospitality professionals from around the world.

Held June 16-19 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas, the exposition and conference had 300+ exhibiting companies, over 40 education sessions, special exhibits and recognition for several hospitality industry professionals.

“Where else but HITEC do you have the chance to see representatives from multiple technology vendors in one place at one time, plus sit in on a variety of sessions talking about timely topics,” said Ron Strecker, CHTP, CHAE, CFO of Al J. Schneider Co.

The trade show included companies showcasing technologies and several special exhibits. GUESTROOM 2010 Version 3.0 debuted with 40 innovative guestroom technologies. It ended the show on a high note with a new name for the future: GUESTROOM 20X. Returning for a second year was the Club Technology Pavilion, a display with approximately 15 companies dedicated to showcasing the latest in emerging club technologies.

The HITEC FAVE Awards allowed attendees to voice their opinions on their favorite booth designs and technology solutions. Voters walked the halls, noting their favorites and then voted online or at various kiosks. Winners for booth design are Digital Alchemy (inline booth) and Sony Electronics (island booth). The five technology solution winners are LodgeNet Interactive’s media and connectivity technology solutions, MICROS OPERA PMS, Wii for Hotels, Sony Electronic’s entertainment products and Elfiq Network’s Link Load Balancer. Voter Nancy Beecraft from Mohawk Mountain House in New Paltz, N.Y. won a Wii prize package worth close to $1,000.

“This is our third HITEC and we've found that this is the show to capture high-level IT professionals,” said Denis Lesak, director of digital signage services, hotel services division for PSAV, a HITEC 2008 exhibitor.

Success of the trade show was also evident in the number of exhibitors that have already registered for HITEC 2009 in Anaheim, Calif., with 86 percent of next year's exhibit hall already sold.

“SoftBrands is proud to be a sponsor of HITEC 2008, and we have had a tremendous response and traffic at our booth,” said David Gandrud, director of global marketing for SoftBrands, a HITEC 2008 exhibitor. “Once again, HFTP has exceeded our expectations by providing a venue that brings together not only buyers and sellers, but partners and customers in an environment that allows us to share our story and learn where the industry is going. Specifically for SoftBrands, we have had a very positive experience, and expect to see a very positive return.”

HITEC 2008 included over 40 education sessions, including three general sessions. Education sessions opened Monday evening with a double feature from Dell Executive Paul Bell and noted trend watcher Michael Tchong. They both discussed a new social dialog and how society adapts to technologies and a fast paced world. Tuesday’s general session featured Dave Berkus, inductee into the HFTP International Hospitality Technology Hall of Fame and president of Berkus Technology Ventures, discussing the 10 trends in technology that shape how to plan 2008 and beyond.

The education sessions closed with a lively panel of representatives from well-known rating companies, including mystery hotel reviewers revealing their identity. Co-moderated by Scot Campbell, vice president of business solutions for MGM Mirage's CityCenter and Richard Siegel, president and publisher of Hospitality Upgrade magazine, "Hotels and Metrics Ratings: Understanding the Ratings System," discussed discuss topics such as what ratings mean, how they are determined, recognizing unbiased information, if uniform standards are needed, ratings relevance, the future of ratings and more.

“HITEC is a great social interaction with other end-users that are sharing similar pitfalls. The conference provides great access to find solutions together to overcome these issues,” said Thomas J. Bilbrey Jr., network administrator for Bay Creek Resort & Club.

Other education sessions featured topics such as Web 2.0, guestroom technology, operating a green hotel, RFID and bandwidth challenges. This year’s education program included four special club technology sessions that explored technology issues that challenge the club industry. HITEC 2008 also provided four education sessions designed by and for suppliers of the hospitality industry.

“As a first-time attendee, the conference was a great chance for education and relationship building. I look forward to attending next year,” said Brian Beck, director of technology for BearingPoint Hospitality.

Several industry professionals were honored Tuesday morning during the general session. First, CHTP of the Year Ian Cole, CHTP, vice president of strategic technology for Starwood Vacation Ownership (SVO), was presented a plaque for earning the highest score for the Certified Hospitality Technology Professional (CHTP) exam within the last year. Then Fraser Hickox was inducted into the HFTP International Hospitality Technology Hall of Fame. At the forefront of guest room technology for over 20 years, Hickox was honored for his leading-edge approach to technology in the hospitality industry.




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