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People today expect to be connected always and everywhere; sometimes it’s hard to believe that there was a world before smartphones and Wi-Fi. In the time since Wi-Fi became ubiquitous in hotels, apartments, and public spaces, it has fueled the evolution of connectivity in a lot of ways. Just like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the most basic needs start at the bottom, and you can’t get to the next level without a strong foundation. 

By now, everyone is aware that hotel giant Marriott International announced on Friday a massive data breach that goes back more than four years and may have affected up to 500 million customers worldwide. 

After two years of preparation, the FlyZoo Hotel — a futuristic property that uses interactive technologies to do everything from greet guests to deliver room service — is ready for business. 

Mobile technology is fast becoming central to the entire travel experience. Consumers are increasingly using their smartphones to research trips, book accommodation, check in at the airport, and access their hotel room. But one of the next big roles mobile has to play in the travel process is mobile payment. The idea of an entirely cashless society might still seem some way off, but mobile payment is gaining popularity. As it becomes more widely used, its fast and frictionless nature will bring benefits before, during and after a trip. 

Digital marketing, also known as internet marketing, plays a significant role to boost hotel website traffic and online bookings. Recently, many big announcements were made in the digital industry, for example when Facebook introduced a new video format for marketers, or when Google announced a board core algorithm. If you are a new hotelier and want to stay ahead in the industry, then you should know what’s going on in the hotel digital marketing industry. 
 



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The HITEC of Yesterday and Tomorrow

06/17/2016

I was recently asked if HITEC is different today than it “used to be.”  This, of course, is code talking; the question less politely phrased was actually “how was it in the olden days when you first starting coming here?” Admittedly, it has been some years – OK, decades – since I first attended HITEC and the experience is admittedly different.  However, that has less to do with the evolution of the HITEC experience and more to do with how I’ve changed over the same span of time.

Nearly half of my HITEC journeys have been as an attendee, meaning that I went to HITEC representing a hotel, a resort or collections thereof, rather than as a vendor. I was there to buy rather than to sell, and the flip side of that coin is entirely different. First and foremost, attendees seeking financial approval to attend this or any other industry event usually find themselves in the position of detailing the tangible benefits of attendance and justifying the expense. That’s easy enough to do when you have a budget initiative or a mandate to purchase, install or upgrade a system or feature. It’s a little murkier when you just feel like you want to put your finger on the pulse of change, important as that might be. Rarely did my CFO send me off saying, “just go and see what you can see, come back a better person for the experience, and send me the bill.” Mostly I needed to know what I was shopping for, what I needed to better understand and how I could firm up budget expectations for projects that might be one or more fiscal years away. With that mandate, HITEC was a fact-finding mission with a particular topic in mind or a particular objective to be reached. Educational sessions were key, and the rest of the hoopla, show giveaways, vendor parties and serendipitous discoveries were icing on the cake. 

The vast remainder of my HITEC visits was as an exhibitor. In those circumstances, the show floor and booth staffing were the driving force, and everything else was collateral. For the vendors, the HITEC emphasis is on starting new relationships that can lead to new business in an environment that where the customer seeks you out rather than you having to find him or her through campaigns or cold calls. We were there to facilitate burgeoning relationships with students, lookey-loos neophytes and old hands at the industry. We were there to close add-on deals with existing customers, make time for any of our problem children and smooth over old wounds by covering them in cocktails, canapés and promises of atonement. 

The educational part of HITEC really didn’t fit into the exhibitor schedule; in fact, vendors weren’t highly sought after as presenters (or attendees) in the olden days. Then – and now, to a great degree – unidentified flying exhibitors weren’t exactly a welcome sight at your booth. At best, visiting exhibitors can be a distraction that pulls focus from the business of selling – and this is, after all, a marketing/customer event. If you’re that vendor who just dropped by to cop a quick meeting, why, you’re sure to be as welcome as a dead battery in a rental car. And at worst, booth staffers often look upon the other vendors who take time to shop the floor as if they are spies from the shadowy world of corporate espionage, there to steal the company’s secret ideas as well as all the pens.

For the last two years I’ve attended HITEC as a consultant. This is a vague in-between world, wherein you represent a client to the vendor and a vendor to the client. It can feel like a bi-directional conflict of interest, but your goal is to aid your client in successfully solving his/her business challenge by matching him or her to the vendor best suited to succeed. This process is as dicey as a newest version of anyone’s software, which is always due out early next year, no matter what the product, vendor or specific issue may be.  

All told, HITEC is and will continue to be where people who buy, make or live and breathe hospitality technology come to discover the state of the art.  New products and relationships are constantly being forged, such that an event that has basically stayed the same is forever different. Enjoy the rest of HITEC 2016 and see you again at HITEC 2017!

About The Author
Michael Schubach




Michael Schubach is a regular contributor to Hospitality Upgrade.

 
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