Largest International Hotel Technology Conference To Be Held In Toronto, Canada Jun 26 – 29
By Alan Young, Hospitality Industry Advisor, College Professor, and Co-Founder of Puzzle Partner
They say the only guarantees in life are death and taxes, but if you work in the hospitality technology space, at least one other certainty exists – the annual meeting of the minds that is HITEC®. For over 50 years, the Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition and Conference (HITEC) has become an industry staple, giving attendees a unique opportunity to witness new product launches and innovations while listening to expert panels, partaking in exclusive education sessions, and, of course, networking with industry peers. Hailed as the industry’s premier technology event, HITEC attracts attendees, exhibitors, and sponsors from around the globe. This year, the renowned conference is heading north to set up shop in Canada’s most glamorous hotspot – Toronto. And yes, that is where Drake and The Weekend are from!
From June 26th to 29th, HITEC (produced by Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP®), will host the industry’s most innovative companies at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. As always, the conference will present exhibitors with the opportunity to showcase their products and services to high-level professionals and key decision-makers in the industry. Of course, in-person events boast an undeniable luster in the post-pandemic landscape, and the city of Toronto comes alive in the summer months in a manner that HITEC attendees should not miss. The energetic, vibrant city is home to an array of attractions and seemingly endless entertainment, shopping, and dining opportunities. Toronto is a BIG city with a metropolitan area population that is over 6.3 million, 9.12 times as big as New York City. One of Canada’s many epicenters of culture, it is also home to one of the world’s most important film festivals—the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).
With this in mind, we have curated a list of some of the amazing things Toronto has to offer the industry leaders descending upon the city this June for HITEC.
Toronto’s Festival of Beer
June is a busy month in the city of Toronto. Amidst the healthy serving of summer events locals and tourists can choose from is the Toronto Festival of Beer which, much like HITEC, has become a yearly tradition. The event can most succinctly be described with three words: beer, bands, and food – and not just any beer. TFOB is a specially curated stomping ground of premier local craft beer brands and international brews poured generously against the backdrop of games, food vendors, and great music. This year, TFOB conveniently takes place from July 28th to 30th, giving HITEC attendees the perfect opportunity to experience what has been deemed a “Legendary Summer Tradition” in the 6ix.
The Ossington Strip
Last year, Ossington street was named “one of the coolest streets in the world,” coming in at number 14 on Time Out’s comprehensive list of the coolest streets in the world. This was no surprise to locals who are well acquainted with the cozy cafes, sought-after restaurants, lively bars, and buzz-worthy businesses that take up Ossington’s prime real estate. And lest we forget the time Vogue named Queen West as one of the “15 coolest neighborhoods in the world” back in 2014 – Ossington unsurprisingly finds itself right at the heart of this already renowned neighborhood.
From historic Thai food restaurants like the Golden Turtle to beloved dive bars like Sweaty Betty’s, the fan-favorite coffee at Jimmy’s, Mamakas’ barrel-aged feta brick, Reposado’s tequila collection, the refreshing local brews at Bellwood’s Brewery, the exceptional French fare at La Banane, the steak tartare at Union, and the deliciously sweet offerings of Bang Bang Ice Cream (which is worth the inevitable wait in line), the Ossington strip has a little something for everyone. For any HITEC attendees that are eager for an afternoon pick-me-up but short on time, be sure to check out Formula Fig, a gorgeous new facial bar on the Ossington strip that specializes in high-tech facials done in 30 minutes.
The Toronto Islands
The Toronto Islands are a welcomed summer escape from the downtown core for city-dwellers and tourists alike. You can choose to take the Ferry over to the island or pay a little bit more (usually $15-$20) to take any one of the water taxis floating along Lakeshore, which are hard to miss considering they typically offer the appearance of a small pirate ship. Once on the island, there are a few different beaches to explore, some busier than others, and a clothing-optional one, along with plenty of green space, volleyball courts, parks, and Centreville Amusement Park. Pro tip: Rent a bike to get around the islands quicker, or rent a kayak or canoe to get out on the water and enjoy an especially scenic view of the Toronto waterfront.
TD Toronto Jazz Festival
The Toronto Jazz Festival is described as “a destination event, not just for music lovers but for some of the greatest jazz celebrities in the world, reinforcing its reputation as a leader in artistic excellence and outstanding production standards.” The event is held annually and hosts local compositions and guest artists from abroad. This year, the festival conveniently takes place from June 23rd until July 2nd, awarding HITEC attendees the opportunity to relish in some exceptional live music if they’re in the mood.
Working in hospitality often lends itself to a rather refined palette with regard to food and drink; fortunately, Toronto has plenty to offer in that department. Some of the can’t-miss cocktail bars in the city include BarChef (arguably the most Instagrammable cocktails in Toronto), Bar Raval (amazing tapas in addition to their cocktails), Shameful Tiki Room, Northwood, Simpl Things, The Cloak Bar, Mother, Offworld Bar, and more.
The Toronto Tourist Experience
Of course, there are also the classic tourist staples to take in when visiting Drake’s stomping grounds, including a trip to the CN Tower. Better yet, if you’re feeling brave, you might participate in the CN Tower Edgewalk (the price of admission promises an adrenaline rush and, hands down, the best view of the city) or have a meal at 360 The Restaurant. Perhaps you’ll feel inclined to catch a Toronto Blue Jays game at the Rogers Centre, or stroll through The Royal Ontario Museum (the ROM), the Art Gallery of Ontario (the AGO), the Hockey Hall of Fame, the Museum of Contemporary Art, or the Bata Shoe Museum.
If you’re craving some waterfront fun, you might check out the Grand Bizarre Beach Club (Toronto’s largest beach club patio), a concert at Budweiser Stage, or rent kayaks from one of the vendors at any of the main beaches along Toronto’s waterfront. If you’re eager to explore the city’s east end, you can check out St. Lawrence Market for some delicious, fresh food, stroll through Evergreen Brickworks, or go for brunch (or tacos at El Catrin) in the Distillery District.
In a city as international as Toronto, there are plenty of hipsters and hipstery things to do. With art fairs, a growing food truck scene, three Chinatowns, and a diverse and multicultural population, Toronto is one of the world’s most hipster cities.
Whether you’re a sports fan, a foodie, a cocktail-lover, an adventure seeker, a craft beer expert, or a history and art connoisseur, the city of Toronto has something to offer everyone, and this year’s HITEC is sure to be one for the books. We can’t wait to see you all in June!
To register or learn more about HITEC 2023 in Toronto, visit www.hftp.org/hitec