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Room for Improvement
This article is from the upcoming Hospitality Upgrade Spring 2002 issue. For more technology articles please visit our Web site. To receive the upcoming issue of Hospitality Upgrade magazine register on the Web site or e-mail .
 Spring 2002
By Christel Dietzsch

For the first time, the two hospitality technology shows, EURHOTEC and HOSTEC were held together running alongside Hotelympia, an established biannual exhibition for the hospitality industry in the United Kingdom. The event took place at the Earls Court Exhibition Centre on Feb. 4-8 in London. 

EURHOTEC is now in its seventh year and initially aimed at becoming the annual showcase for the European hospitality technology industry, and was held at different locations all over Europe each year. But it didn’t take off for various reasons, the most obvious being that the cultural boundaries, language barriers and the great diversity of hospitality markets proved to be a bigger obstacle than expected. There are, furthermore, already established hospitality exhibitions, also displaying technology, in most European countries. These are EquipHotel in France, Horecava in the Netherlands, Horeca in Belgium, ITB and Hogatec in Germany, IGEHO in Switzerland, Interfood in Sweden, SIA in Italy and Hostelco in Spain amongst others. And the truth of the matter is that there simply aren’t that many large hotel and restaurant chains operating all over Europe. 

The first HOSTEC was held in 2000 and was also striving to become a European wide hospitality technology event. But it struggled with less than ideal locations in London, and an insufficient marketing budget. This resulted in a relatively small number of attendees mainly from the UNITED KINGDOM, and a weak conference. 

To merge HOSTEC and EURHOTEC into one event and to run it alongside Hotelympia, which is in its 67th year and claimed to have had over 50,000 visitors last year, seemed therefore a good idea. But did HOSTEC-EURHOTEC 2002 deliver what it promised this time? Yes and no. Yes, because many of the major hospitality technology vendors were present, and because Hotelympia certainly contributed to an improved visitor traffic on the show floor. No, because the show had yet again missed out on being effectively promoted, and the conference also lacked the sufficient number of high-profile speakers needed to attract many more attendees. With a few exceptions, the sessions were poorly presented and attended. One of the exceptions was the CIO panel of hotel and travel executives moderated by John Cahill, CIO of Manhattan East Suites Hotels and president of HFTP, Jules Sieburgh, senior vice president and CTO of Host Marriott, Clive Taylor, information technology director for the Savoy Group of Hotels and Willi Tinner, vice president, information technology and CIO at Raffles International Hotels and Resorts. The panellists initiated a lively discussion about technology topics, such as in-room technology, Internet reservations and CRM. 

From the exhibitors’ standpoint, it very much depended on their ‘clout’ as well as on their target markets as to whether they voiced a positive or negative opinion about the show. Those with a big name and a big marketing budget targeting mainly the high-end hotel market had made sure that their existing and potential customers knew about their presence at HOSTEC-EURHOTEC. And they confirmed that many of the invited executives actually showed up. Providers of wireless solutions for the foodservice industry also confirmed that they received a great deal of interest from attendees and made many new contacts. 

Others, however, would have preferred to be located amongst the Hotelympia exhibitors, as HOSTEC-EURHOTEC was located in a dedicated area on the second floor of the exhibition centre. There were a few technology vendors who had insisted on exhibiting on the fringes of Hotelympia but still very close to HOSTEC-EURHOTEC. They were happy about the increased traffic passing their stands, but they did not appear in the HOSTEC-EURHOTEC exhibitor listing. There is no right or wrong answer to this dilemma of having a separate technology sector. But it was probably one of the reasons why there were hardly any hardware providers selling to the SME foodservice market. 

There was one thing, though, that all exhibitors agreed on: five days is too long for a hospitality technology show. Three days would be enough. Next year, the show will be at least one day shorter as HOSTEC-EURHOTEC 2003 will be held on Jan. 20-23, at the NEC in Birmingham running alongside Hospitality Week, another biannual hospitality event in the United Kingdom alternating with Hotelympia. Hospitality Week was established in 1999 and hosted 400 exhibitors in its second event in 2001. 

Again, there were mixed feelings about the location. Some have argued who wants to travel to one of the United Kingdom’s main industrial cities in the West Midlands? It’s true that compared to the metropolitan appeal of London, Birmingham has little to offer. But on the other hand, the NEC is a very good venue and the necessary travel infrastructure is in place to ensure an easy journey to and from the show. 

So, what is the conclusion? This year’s HOSTEC-EURHOTEC combined effort was better than having two separate shows with small attendances. And running alongside a major hospitality show makes sense. But, when it comes to the show in its own right, it is doubtful that many technology end-users would travel very far to attend HOSTEC-EURHOTEC as it presently stands. 

A show that intends to compete against the existing and in most cases very successful shows in the European countries has to come up with something exceptionally good. Most importantly, the conference needs to be absolutely top-quality. And secondly, it is essential to heavily promote a show with such an ambitious goal. HOSTEC-EURHOTEC leaves, therefore, a lot of room for improvement.   

Christel Dietzsch is Journalist of Clarendon Reports Ltd. based in London. The company is the source for reports and data analyzing the IT market in the global hospitality and retail industries.

Geneva Rinehart
Associate Editor
Hospitality Upgrade magazine 
and the Hospitality website

Also See: Technology and the Human Touch / Dan Phillips / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Spring 2002
Wireless Technology:  Where We Have Been, Where Are we Going? / Geneva Rinehart / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Spring 2002
Effective Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Implementations / John Schweisberger and Amitava Chatterjee, CHTP / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Fall 2001 
What's Up With Call Accounting Systems (CAS) / Dan Phillips / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Fall 2001 
Technology Dilemmas: What have IT investments done for you lately? / Elizabeth Lauer / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Summer 2001 
Full Circle from Centralized to ASP - The Resurrection of Old Themes and a Payment Solution / Gary Eng / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Summer 2001 
A High Roller in the Game of System Integration / Elizabeth Lauer / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Spring 2001 
CAVEAT EMPTOR! Simple Steps to Selecting an E-procurement Solution / Mark Haley / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Spring 2001 
Your Bartender is Jessie James and He Needs to Pay for College / Beverly McCay / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Fall 2000 
Choosing a Reservation Representation Company / John Burns / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Spring 2001 
Understanding and Maximizing a Hotel’s Electronic Distribution Options / by John Burns / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Fall 2000 
The Future of Electronic Payments - From Paper to Plastic and Beyond / J. David Oder /  Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Summer 2000
Timeshare Technology Steps Up / by Elizabeth Lauer / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / July 2000 
Biometric Payment: The New Age of Currency / by Geneva Rinehart / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Mar 2000 

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