October 16, 2020
I took three flights last week and, yes, they were all horse related. I flew three legs on three airlines– Southwest, Jet Blue and Delta. After meeting with friends who flew American and United, all I can say is stick to the three I mentioned. I can’t believe other airlines are packing people in. The three I flew all kept the middle seats empty and if you were lucky enough to get upgraded to first class on Delta they kept the seat next to you unoccupied. Maybe I am overreacting, but if our ultimate goal is to get people flying and staying in hotels again it helps knowing that some airlines are doing what they can to make passengers feel safe.
As Doug mentions in his Definitely Doug column that follows this opening, this is our last Siegel Sez before HITEC. If you are a vendor of technology, then you might be living a dream of sorts at Cyber HITEC if there are thousands of attendees, which I expect there will be. Cyber HITEC 2020 will be very different this year but who knows, maybe some positive things will be coming out of it. I am always honored to be asked to do sessions and this year I am doing two. The panels I’m doing are not about technology though it is discussed. The panels are all about leadership and what leaders look for when building teams, and what professionals should be aware of when they pursue careers in the industry. I have done two sessions, one from the vendor side and one from the hotel side. Yes, they were recorded, and I forgot there is no editing, so two minutes into the first one I screwed up big time. If that is the worst thing that happens to me, I can live with that. The sessions are on Tuesday and Wednesday October 27 and October 28, so we hope to see you there in the Hospitality Upgrade Theatre. How cool is it to have a theatre named for our company! I remind you that all our panelists will be live at the conclusion of their sessions to answer questions. To check out the Cyber HITEC schedule go to www.cyberhitec.com. Again, read Doug’s column regarding the good and bad of having HITEC virtual this year. My hope remains that it is for this year only!
I want to thank Jonas Chorum for inviting me to its Consultants and Industry Influencers get-together this week. The company had its last similar meeting 16 months ago in Phoenix. This week it was virtual as everything else is nowadays. Jonas Chorum did a nice job sharing both the highs and lows from the past 16 months. Many of the industry’s top consultants were there and I must give a shout out to John Burns who during the Q&A session brought up one of Doug’s columns from here on Siegel Sez. It was nice to know that everyone at the meeting had also read it. We thank everybody who reads Hotel Online and shares it with others. It is appreciated.
Here now is Definitely Doug with a unique look at the upcoming Cyber HITEC. He brings up some great points, and trust me, he isn’t the only one who will be looking even with COVID-19 hanging over our heads. I will see you at the end of the news with this week’s attempt at you-know-what. Look for Hospitality Upgrade and Hotel Online at Cyber HITEC in the virtual exhibitor’s hall.
See you at Cyber HITEC,
This Year’s Odd HITEC Pilgrimage
This is the last issue of Siegel Sez before this year’s CYBER HITEC event. HITEC is an event I have not missed in 30 years, and historically it has always been a great place to find innovation.
This year’s virtual event will be different. No one knows quite what to expect. I hope that the extended format (a month to absorb it all!) and low registration fees will drive good attendance despite all the staff reductions in the industry.
For the traditional HITEC format, I usually spent a solid week each June planning my activities. I researched the new exhibitors extensively. I watched the press releases to see what the established technology companies were going to be promoting. I tried to gauge the year’s trends and hot buttons, as well as to identify new technology ideas that might be appearing for the first time. I reviewed the educational sessions to see which ones I wanted to attend. I made a list of the exhibitors I wanted to see. I requested appointments with some, and I developed a plan to use my time on the trade show floor as effectively as possible.
This year I started a similar planning process, knowing it would be different, but quickly concluded it was not simply different, but VASTLY different. In some ways better, in some ways worse. I want to share some thoughts on what I learned and how I plan to get the most out of CYBER HITEC.
First, I think the HITEC Advisory Council has done a really great job pulling together some interesting sessions. Unlike every other HITEC, the sessions will be recorded and available for registered attendees to view for a month afterwards. This is great; one of my biggest frustrations with the physical show was that there was simply not enough time to do everything. Even if your first priority was the educational sessions, you might often find that two or even three of the sessions you most wanted to attend were scheduled at the same time, or conflicted with the only time someone was available for an important meeting. For many of us whose schedules are packed to the gills from 7am well into the evening every day, this is a real plus. There may not be as much interaction between the audience and speakers as in the past, but I can live with that tradeoff.
While many attendees go for the education, for others like me the most important part of HITEC is the ability to walk the trade show floor, find interesting new products, and meet the people and technologies behind them. In recent years I spent most of my show-floor time visiting the tiny booths scattered around the remote reaches of the exhibit hall or in the E20x pavilion; these are where the new entrants are most often to be found. That part will be quite different this year – in some ways better, in some ways worse. I have yet to attend a real virtual trade show of comparable size, but from what I have seen, there will be pluses and minuses.
This year’s numbers give rise for concern. In recent years, there have generally been somewhere around 400 exhibitors on the HITEC floor, and of those, around 100 to 120 each year were first timers. I always tried to visit as many of those as I can, because truly disruptive technologies do not often come from the established industry players. In a good year, the 15 hours of trade show time was just about enough to hit them all for at least a look, and for most I could get a quick overview and meet the people. While maybe two-thirds of them were companies with products much like existing ones, the other third had something novel or new. While I could not do deep dives in the limited show floor hours, having met the key people and exchanged business cards, it was easy to follow up with them in subsequent weeks. Many of them have earned mentions in this column as a result.
This year, though, unless there is a last-minute rush of exhibitors, I will be disappointed on that front. As I write this with two weeks to go, there were only 95 virtual booths listed on the exhibit floor, and of those, 15 were taken by media or industry associations. Of the remaining 80, I counted only ten that have not exhibited at HITEC before, at least to my knowledge. I will certainly plan to visit all ten, but what the heck? For the last several months, I have been writing about the amazing amount of innovation that is going on right now. I know it is out there, but why are these companies not out showing it? Exhibiting at CYBER HITEC costs a whole lot less than usual, and several factors should help compensate for the negative effect of the economy on attendance (lower registration cost, vastly extended hours, and the ability for attendees to do it “on their own time” will all help). And with only 80 exhibitors, new entrants will have a much easier time being seen than when they were competing with 400!
I am extremely disappointed with the many providers who have some great and innovative products but who (unless they are just planning to sign up late) are ignoring this prime opportunity for visibility – there were literally dozens I was hoping to see, and almost none of them are exhibiting! I gave some vendors grief in a column last month for failing to promote effectively through their websites. The HITEC exhibit list is just convincing me that for many young companies it is not just a website issue, they simply do not understand how to market themselves, period. Even some those that ARE exhibiting have not given HITEC the basic product information used to describe their virtual booths – it’s about a paragraph; how hard can that be? This is a year when the attendees will have almost unlimited time to see everything that interests them – but there will not be much for them to see, and they may not be able to find some of what is there!
Even the best products rarely sell themselves. You need to market them.
I still plan to use my HITEC time productively, but my usual approach is not going to work this year, and I am not expecting to find nearly as much innovation. Most years, I skip over visiting many of the established vendors because I already know them, keep up fairly well on their new products, and have easy access to the key people away from the show; this gives me more time to meet the new ones. This year, there should be time to visit most everyone. I will hope to find some new things from the more established vendors to compensate for the dearth of new ones.
What will this year’s HITEC trends be? Researching the exhibitor list does not provide the usual clues. It does seem that everyone and their brother has a mobile app or pseudo-app that can do contactless check-in and check-out, guest compendium, digital menu and ordering, and contactless payment; I know several of the vendors will be showing those capabilities. Some are well done, others appear to have been pulled together quickly and are somewhat disjointed, requiring time-consuming maintenance of multiple databases or an awkward user interface. There are several dozen interesting chatbot products (about half based on AI), but I could find only one on the exhibitor list. There is continued innovation in back office processes, payments, and human resources software, often to address the new normal of work-from-home and the need to retrain returning or newly hired staff without traditional classroom sessions.
A lot is also going on in health and sanitation technology, but disappointingly I saw only a couple of exhibiting vendors with products I am aware of in that area. Robotics is another hot area with some cool innovations; it is starting to look like it may be mainstream before long. But again, I do not see a single exhibitor this year from that segment.
Sometimes I get surprised, when a vendor announces a totally new product at HITEC that was still in stealth mode during my research period, and their HITEC showing may represent a complete pivot from what they were promoting a few weeks before. Some of those companies have done extremely well in the industry and I hope there will be a few of them this year.
Most of the 80 exhibitors are established providers who have been exhibiting for as many years as I can remember, and I applaud and thank them for their support of this important event. Unfortunately, if history is any guide, in many cases their innovations will be incremental rather than groundbreaking, and often useful only to customers of their core products (no one is going to replace their core PMS or POS just to get a mobile add-on).
As for the others, it is probably not too late for you to sign up and get on the industry’s radar! Let me know if you sign up to exhibit in the next two weeks, and I will be sure to look at what you have, with an eye to covering it in future columns if I find it interesting.
And since this is my last column before HITEC, if you do attend and see something interesting, please drop me a line so I can be sure not to miss it!
Recent Technology News, from Hospitality Upgrade and Hotel Online
– Allbridge and Ipanema Solutions Merge to Simplify Technology Implementation for Hotels
Allbridge, the leading provider of data, video, and voice technologies for hospitality and senior living properties, is pleased to announce that they have merged with Ipanema Solutions (“Ipanema”), a provider of technology engineering, systems design, and project management for new build hotels.
People on The Move
– Lee Kramer Promoted to Director of Sales & Revenue Growth for NextPax Inc
NextPax Inc, a leader in channel management, is pleased to announce that Lee Kramer has been promoted to Director of Sales & Revenue Growth. In his new role, Kramer will manage the sales and revenue growth for NextPax in the Americas.
– Renie Cavallari Wins Silver Lifetime Achievement Stevie® Award for Women in Business
“Outrageous! A Dynamo! A Change Innovator!” These are some ways people refer to Aspire and The RCI Institute’s Founder & Chief Instigator, Renie Cavallari, who has brought imaginative, innovative, & productive change to the international business community. This is what has led Renie and Aspire, a global sales training, strategic consulting, and leadership development firm, to their 15th consecutive Stevie® Award.
Guest Management Systems
– A-List Osthoff Resort Positions for Travel Restart; Selects Maestro PMS During Industry Pause for Guest-Focused Mobile Services and Integrated Operations
Data mining and analytics, touchless operations, and robust third-party integrations are enabling personalized guest service, spa productivity.
Reservations & Distribution
– U.S. Hotel Industry in Plateau: SiteMinder Reveals the Five Stages of the Hotel Booking Reset
A new report by SiteMinder, the global hotel industry’s leading guest acquisition platform, reveals that five stages lay ahead of the world’s almost one million accommodation providers until their booking cycle resets into a different normal.
Revenue Management & Analytics
– Infor Unveils New Cloud-Based Revenue Management Functionality for Hoteliers
– IDeaS and Host Hotel Systems Implement Two-Way Data Integration
– Introducing MAX™, An Interactive Hotel Revenue Performance Platform
– Suitcase Hospitality Group Optimizes Revenue Management With Infor
Guest Facing Technology
– Nomadix Casting Enables Guests to Personalize Their In-Room Entertainment Experience
Nomadix Inc., a technology leader in hospitality and MDU, today announced its new cost-effective solution Nomadix Casting, which enables guests to choose the content they want to watch and cast it with their devices directly to the in-room TV.
– Hotel Metro Milwaukee Adopts Latest in Content Casting Abilities With BeyondTV by Hotel Internet Services While Ensuring Seamless Guest Wi-Fi Connectivity
Hotel Internet Services (HIS), a full-service provider of internet services and solutions for the hospitality industry, has partnered with Hotel Metro Milwaukee, Autograph Collection to provide the latest in guestroom entertainment abilities via the implementation of BeyondTV in addition to ensuring that guest online needs are fully met with an advanced Wi-Fi network upgrade.
– Hôtel de Verbier Partners With INTELITY to Enhance Their In-Room Guest Experience
The luxury Swiss property is supplying guests with brand new in-room tablets for a completely seamless guest stay.
– Zoox Smart Data Continues Rapid Global Expansion With New North America Headquarters
Zoox Smart Data “Zoox” is pleased to announce the expansion of its global operations with the establishment of its North America headquarters in the Atlanta metropolitan area. This move is part of a strategic global growth initiative that will allow Zoox to more effectively address the international hospitality and travel market with its established solution that provides unmatched visibility into guest preferences and behaviors.
– GCommerce’s Performance-Based Fee Model Increases Website Production by 20% for Luxury Santa Barbara Hotel
The GCommerce team also created compelling content for the Hotel Californian website in order to keep the property top of mind during COVID-19.
– Driving Revenue and Digital Guest Journeys Using Salesforce and Real-Time Guest Data
Hapi’s CRM Connector App for Salesforce is powering up the customer journey and helping drive revenue through smarter marketing.
– Aptech + Zaru Driving Operational Efficiencies, Streamlining Invoice Processing for Hotels
Aptech, the industry standard for hospitality financial management, has partnered with Zaru, a company providing automated invoice processing solutions for hospitality businesses across North America. The integration partnership is enabling hotel accountants to receive critical invoice information accurately and efficiently while eliminating paper, removing manual data entry errors, and capturing cost savings.
– Oliver Companies Partners With ProfitSword to Enhance Company Growth and Stability Using Latest in Business Intelligence and Forecasting Technology
ProfitSword, one of hospitality’s premier developers of business intelligence and data integration software, has been selected by Oliver Companies, Inc. to provide each of its hotel locations with the industry’s ultimate in business and market performance insight with the implementation of ProfitSage.
– ALICE and Vocera Partner to Improve Hotel Communication and Workflows
ALICE, a leading hospitality operations and management platform, now integrates with the hands-free Vocera Badge and Vocera Smartbadge from Vocera Communications, Inc. (NYSE:VCRA), a leader in communication and workflow solutions. Interoperability between ALICE and these intelligent mobile devices enables hotels around the world to improve operational efficiency and increase safety for employees and guests.
Hospitality Events and Association News
– AHLA, LHA Announce New Strategic Partnership
The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) and the Latino Hotel Association (LHA) announced a new strategic relationship. This collaboration, which goes into effect January 1, 2021, will deepen both organizations’ shared goals of advancing public policy and advocacy efforts of the U.S. hotel industry and growing Latino investment in the community of Latino owners and operators.
– Avison Young Announces Weekly Open Forum
Avison Young Hospitality Group announces the firm launched a weekly virtual forum that will cover weekly lodging performance and participant Q&A.
Piqued Our Interest
And now for you-know-what.…
Despite Brexit, the European Commission has finally agreed that English will be the official language of the European Union rather than German, which was the other possibility.
As part of the negotiations, the British government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and accepted a five-year phase-in plan for what will become known as “Euro-English”.
In the first year, “s” will replace the soft “c”. Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard “c” will be dropped in favour of “k”. This should klear up konfusion, and keyboards kan have one less letter.
There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year when the troublesome “ph” will be replaced with “f”. This will make words like fotograf 20 per sent shorter.
In the third year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible. Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters, which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horibl mes of the silent “e” in the languag is disgrasful and it should go away.
By the fourth year, peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing ‘th’ with ‘z’ and ‘w’ with ‘v’.
During ze fifz year, ze unesesary ‘o’ kan be dropd from vords kontaining ‘ou’ and after ziz fifz yer ve vil hav a reil sensibl vriten styl.
Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech ozer.