First of all – and to avoid any misunderstanding – those guys on the image are certainly not creepy but of course Rich Siegel and his congenial partner Jon Inge. Both keeping me/us updated via Hospitality Upgrade Magazine and Siegel Sez newsletter throughout the year – and hopefully for many years to come.
Now HITEC 2013 just closed the doors and once more there was a lot to see and learn. Two things especially come to mind: first there have never been more vendors with guest facing technology than this year (be it tablets, Digital Signage, IPTV or whatever). On the one hand this makes perfectly sense because technology delivers new channels to communicate with guests and/or enhance business processes. On the other hand I guess this adds to the comprehensible uncertainty in the industry about which way to go.
Apps? If yes, native or HTML5/web based? Make more use of the TV? With smart TVs or better external boxes? Let guests pair theire devices? If yes, can we provide it for Apple and Android devices? Via Wlan or just wait for Miracast to be more ubiquitous? And what about digital signage? Alle nice channels, but as Ken Dufault from Starwood was perfectly right in a panel: do we end up with 3-4 more CMS and Dashboards?
Given all those questions we are very glad that we had the chance to discuss our approach with so many colleagues and even more glad about the feedback we got. In times with so much progress and fragmentation it is more important than ever to recognize that both the hotel industry and its vendors are in the same boat with common goals. And here comes the last session moderated by Scott Campbell into play. In such a risk averse, often process orientated industry it needs – as he called it – the hunters. And – following John Bollen from MGM -Innovators, who are ready for transparent, tight and well managed partnerships with fellow vendors.
Technology and processes are complex and it needs efforts (and sometimes risk) from both sides to really make use of all those wonderful possibilities in an innovative way. And if you think doing nothing is no risk, please think again.
The second thing is that slowly but surely some somehow creepy things begin to appear (at least from an european perspective). Geofencing and what you can do with it, live monitoring of social media postings while on property (and reacting accordingly) are some of this examples. Add Google Glass to it and I’m wondering what we will see at HITEC 2015 around this topic. The balance between privacy and using information what we either have or is provided by guests (at least somehow) for serving them better will be also no easy cheesy process. I just have to think about the difference between an US 20 something with an lets say German couple in its sixties. What may wow the first will almost certainly completely freak out the second.
All in all HITEC was as always a wonderful and interesting experience. Given the interesting days I would be more than happy if it would take place every 3 months. Given the also kinda interesting nights I am very glad it isn’t.