Hotel Technology Next Generation’s (HTNG) 2013 North American Conference and Members’ Meetings Wrapup

  • HTNG
  • 03.07.13
This year, our team at Hospitality Upgrade was pleased to learn that HTNG’s annual conference would be held at the Westin Buckhead in our hometown and headquarters of Atlanta, Ga.

Not only was the location convenient to our offices, but we enjoyed the opportunity to share our knowledge of the city. Having location in our favor, our team took this opportunity to capture the welcome night’s cocktail reception for our spring issue (to see the pictures, check out the spring issue of Hospitality Upgrade) and by interviewing the attendees about their experiences at the conference and asking them what is new in the hotel technology industry (videos will be coming soon on our HUTube page at http://www.hospitalityupgrade.com/HUtube-Videos/). We would also like to extend a big thank you to the executive vice president and CEO of HTNG, Douglas Rice, for inviting our team to attend this event.

The keynote address on Wednesday morning covered the topic of mobility, and more specifically, how John Bollen, senior vice president of technology strategy at MGM Resorts International, and Bob Friday, the chief technology officer at Cisco, use high-density Wi-Fi as a strategic business advantage and opportunity. This topic is highly relevant and consistently on the minds of most hoteliers. Guests expect to have a home-away-from-home experience as soon as they check in. Guests want to use not just one, but multiple mobile devices, and they want to connect to their social networks at any given time. This is not new information. However, the session posed the question: how do hoteliers extract value from this? Bollen and Friday offered advice and insight into the mobile app created for the MGM Resorts International Bellagio in Las Vegas, most notably taking into account that Wi-Fi is a strategic asset and that creating a mobile app should be a job for both the IT and marketing teams.

After the HTNG Annual Report and a presentation from the Vendor Advisory Council, Rohit Verma, professor, service operations management and executive director at the Center for Hospitality Research, Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, presented the session, “Are Your Hotel Guests Tech-Ready?” Citing research performed to measure the readiness of leisure and business travelers to use different types of technology-based hotel services (location based, communications based and services based), Verma discussed how the Technology Readiness Index (TRI) placed the travelers into four categories: optimism, innovative, discomfort and insecurity. The categories optimism and innovative are both considered positive and good, and the categories discomfort and insecurity are both considered bad. The research revealed startling results: that a paranoid group of technology users (labeled the paranoids) has emerged and is growing, meaning that they are both innovative and insecure.

Later in the afternoon, Ken Barnes, VP of IT, White Lodging, moderated a session with speakers Vineet Gupta, EVP and CIO, Fairmont Raffles Hotels International; Tim Harvey, CEO and president, Core Ideas, LLC (former EVP & CIO of Hilton Worldwide); and Todd Thompson, former CIO, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, on the “Seismic Shifts at the Core.” The session covered the huge undertaking of replacing core hotel systems like central reservations systems (CRS), property management systems (PMS) and customer relationship management systems (CRM), as well as the evolutions of how CIOs make decisions, what technologies are emerging in other industries and what traditional hospitality vendors can do to be relevant in this discussion with the C-level executives.

The last general session addressed another popular topic in the hospitality world, secure payments framework. PCI compliance and the well-publicized security breaches in 2012 have spurred on the development of HTNG’s new Secure Payments Framework, which was recently published in February. The Framework takes the approach of eliminating the hotels’ risk of storing payment card data. To read more on the Secure Payments Framework, view the February press release here: http://www.hospitalityupgrade.com/_news/showNewsDetail.asp?docID=5991.

The second day of HTNG’s annual conference brought another set of informative and relevant sessions. First, Bill Briggs, global Deloitte digital lead and deputy CTO, Deloitte Consulting LLP, spoke about how technology executives can harness the convergence of the five major technology-based forces that are impacting the market today: mobile, analytics, social, cloud and cyber intelligence. A question and answer session with the CIO/CTO Leadership Panel followed, and was moderated by Hospitality Technology Consulting’s President John Burns. Panelists included Peter Engel, CTO, Marcus Hotels & Resorts; Dan Kornick, SVP and CIO, Wyndham Hotel Group; Anand Rao, CIO, Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts; and Mike Blake, CIO, Hyatt Hotels Corporation. Audience members were encouraged to ask the panelists their perspectives on any pressing issues or challenges, and more pointedly, the panelists were asked, “What keeps you up at night?” Besides their kids, the panelists’ answers generally included the pressure to try to keep up with this fast-paced, technology-driven world that we live in.

For more on HTNG and its annual conference, please visit www.htng.org.



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