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Hospitality Technology Forum @ HOFEX 2009

May 20, 2009 - An interesting panel of speakers, the relevance of the topics discussed, the economic climate, increased interest in the role of technology in the hospitality industry � all contributed to make this year one of the most successful forums at HOFEX.

Held on May 7th - the second day of HOFEX, the Forum attracted more than 130 registrants from home and overseas. The house was full for both the morning and afternoon sessions, and every so often with standing room only.

Co-located within the HOSTEC Marketplace, the event was staged in a dedicated space at the rear of the Technology Pavilion affording attendees easy access to the Forum, and also the chance to enjoy the numerous technology exhibits on display. Two networking breaks allowed great opportunities for the audience to meet panel members and share knowledge and experience. The full day program with its six sessions spanning a wide variety of subjects had something for everyone. Many had remarked that the sessions were relevant � no matter what part of the business you are involved in, you came away with a lot of useful knowledge. The added bonus � it didn�t cost anything as admission was free. The majority of sessions were made up of panels comprising industry experts, with one very special presentation on Guestroom 20x.

�Normally, these types of events are not so interactive�, said Terence Ronson, Managing Director of Pertlink the main organiser of the forum, �this time around the audience were in overdrive asking question after question, and often challenging statements made by the panellists - it was wonderful�, Ronson added. This was the fifth time Pertlink had worked with HOFEX on staging Technology related forums.

Terence Ronson, Managing Director of 
Pertlink the main organiser of the forum
�To give these sessions a wider audience and to share the wealth of knowledge being exchanged, we covered the entire proceedings on video, and they can be found at: Ronson adds. A record of the day�s events have also been captured on stills. These are available on Flickr and various other popular websites.

Although the event attracted some sponsorship, ground rules were in place to prevent sessions becoming sales oriented. The day was primarily designed for information sharing.

HOFEX as a whole attracted a record number of visitors, and there was a lot to see spread across various halls. The Technology section took place in Hall 1 which was just opened after a major extension took place at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center.

Moderator: Jules Sieburgh, President, Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals with panelists - Benjamin Chien - Principal, Customer Intelligence, SAS Hong Kong; Maunik Thacker - Executive Director - Revenue Management - Venetian Macau; Henri Roellings - Publisher - HSYNDICATE; Graham Tate - Managing Director Asia Pacific, IDeaS a SAS Company
The Panels
CIO Panel - This panel featured two home-grown chains (Langham and Mandarin) plus a Macau element with Galaxy entertainment. How to get owners to buy-in to technology, dealing with GEN-X and the older generation were also covered. Using technology as a marketing tool and part of customer service delivery was discussed, and there were some technical aspects touched upon in regards technology vision and what type of wireless networks to deploy. Other tech areas included energy and analytics. View Video
GR20x - Jules provided background on Guestroom 20x - previously known as Guestroom 2010. Some of the technology showcased: Reality Goggles, Room Service tray detection, Near Field Communications, digital door viewer, PC-in-a-desk, power charging modules, cable management, smart mini bars, OLED TVs, voice activated alarm clock, bluetooth enabled pillow, mattress-less bed, motorised drapes, smart toilets, smart baths and scenting, The next showing of Guestroom 20x will be at HITEC - [Orlando], June 2010. View Video
Going Green with Technology - Rob and Andrew were guided along the green path by Mark. Green initiatives and how Green is implemented into businesses were two of the main topics covered. Robert elaborated that climate change and energy consumption are the number one environmental issues being addressed today, and Andrew detailed how his role involves operating environmentally friendly resorts. Bio-fuels and recycling waste water were touched upon, and how the smaller hotel seems to be doing a better job at being green versus the major ones. View Video
Putting the �I� into Hospitality - Doug steered this lively session that encompassed three �I�s� - infrastructure, i-generation and integration. The panel touched upon technology buying trends of hotels and demands placed upon them by customers. Some of the questions fielded by the panel: What changes have been seen in the guestroom, and what changes are there in guest buying patterns, if looking twelve months ahead would you install wired and wireless internet access, what is happening with telephony, and where are the new revenue opportunities. View Video
F&B Technology - Grant, Fritz and Norman shared a diversified wealth of knowledge about the F&B business. Using technology as control systems and also for marketing purposes were introduced by the panellists. The process of how to select and purchase systems was one of the big subjects covered as was how operators need to find their way through the technology maize, embracing what technology is out there, and what it can do for the business. Marketing to include customer retention and CRM also factored into the very interesting discussions as did the use of the internet and availability of various web based tools. View Video
Optimizing Customer Experience and Revenues - A Look at 2010 and Beyond - A unique group made up of user and vendor, Jules maneuvered the panel to cover such important subjects as a market segment of one, and how to look after the guest and deliver what they really expect. Revenue systems exist to handle this, and web technology can address this through targeted promotions with customer specific offers. Maunik from the Casino world elaborated how they are already doing this, and the hotel industry needs to get on board and understand how to better deliver the customer experience to help drive revenues. View video

The People

HOFEX is biannual, and the Forum was almost a year in planning. �Getting together such an all-star international cast is not an easy feat�, Ronson states. �I was extremely fortunate that all my A-Listers accepted the invitation first time round, and with just two exceptions, all turned up for the day.� Unfortunately, at the very last minute, Gerard Du Bois of Le Rose Noire lost his voice while Frank Wolfe of HFTP had to stay back home in the U.S.

  • Jules Sieburgh [USA] pulled a double. As as well as moderating the session Optimizing Customer Experience and Revenue - a Look at 2010, he also kindly stepped-up for Frank, and gave the Guestroom 20x presentation. 
  • Norman Lee [HK] of Infrasys, stood in for Gerard on the IT Trends in F&B panel. And, I must also thank Mark Ozawa [USA] of Accuvia for moderating the Going Green with Technology panel. 
  • Douglas Rice [USA] of HTNG did a great job moderating the Putting the �I� into Hospitality panel, and Henri Roelings [Netherlands] of Hsyndicate gave his global insights as part of Jules� panel.
  • Thanks also need to be extended to Maunik Thacker and Ian Farnsworth for making the trip over from Macau. Whilst not too far away geographically, there are definitely a different set of rules to which they play by. We thank the two gentlemen for making the journey and sharing their insights.
  • Grahame Tate [Australia] flew in for the first panel, as did Gordon Brown[UK] who joined Wang Swee Lee [China] for the first session after lunch, and then there was Andrew Jones [citizen of the world] who participated in the penultimate session.
A good event needs not just good speakers and panel members, it also needs a wonderful audience, and the Technology Forum @ HOFEX 2009 was no exception to that rule. Every panel attracted multiple questions, often time stimulating the discussions between audience and panelists.

All attendees to the Forum received a souvenir program which listed out the days events, pictures and BIOs of the speakers, and of course, credit to the sponsors.

Other participants although being primarily Hong Kong based, are extremely busy, and our heartfelt thanks go out to them for taking time out from their often hectic schedules to participate.

Both morning and afternoon sessions were rounded off with Lucky Draws, and the day end featured a Grand Prize Draw with a MAC MINI being the star prize. A lucky winner who specially flew in from Thailand for the event came away with the cherished gift. Knowing the winner, I�m sure he will put it to good use.

Two Networking breaks were arranged so that the participants could meet up with speakers and fellow attendees. Some even used this opportunity for one-on-one discussions.

The Lunch intermission gave more time to walk through the various exhibits adjacent to the Forum and meet other exhibitors. And, since HOFEX ran from May 6th - 9th, there were three more days to enjoy the rest of the trade show made up of 1,800 exhibits spread across 44,000 m2 of exhibition space.

A total of 32,479 Trade Buyers attended HOFEX. For more general information about HOFEX, please visit:

With over 100 people attending the Forum, we had an eclectic mix made up of operators, academics and some vendors. Most of them came with the objective of learning something new, and the chance to meet up with others from the industry. I would say that in the majority of cases, these we fulfilled. Of course the day was not all serious business talk, there were definitely some lighter moments, interspersed with spontaneous bouts of laughter.

Making new acquaintances and renewing old ones, is frequently the case at such events, and when people have such busy schedules, often spending more time in airplanes and hotels than they do at home, the Forum is an ideal place to play catch-up.

�We�ve had t remendously good feedback since the Forum took place�, said Terence Ronson,� and I�m very confident this will be reflected in the web based survey that has been sent out to all attendees.� The results of the survey will help shape future Forums and not only for Pertlink to improve the design and program, but also for the HOFEX organisers to better understand the needs of show attendees. �As a service industry we rely upon customer feedback, and the Forum is no exception�, Ronson adds. �We have to consider ourselves as one team, and we do this for the betterment of the industry as a whole.�

TERENCE RONSON - MANAGING DIRECTOR - This is our 5th time to work with HOFEX on such an event, and I�m delighted that we were asked back to help out. Sure it�s a lot of hard work putting together the program, getting the word spread throughout the industry that it will take place, and having as many seats filled as we can. Logistics can sometimes be a nightmare, especially when there is so much else happening in the world around you, but on the day, all the pieces seemed to slot together very nicely, and it was a tremendous success. I now look forward to the challenges of HOFEX 2011 and doing it all over again.

PHOTOGRAPHER - ANAT GIVON - Recording and sharing the events of the day are an important element of its success and so we recruited the talents of a professional photographer. Her work helps bring to life these pages, and by looking at our Flickr page, you will see and experience many more examples.


Terence Ronson
Hong Kong
[+852] 946 80848
email: [email protected]




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