By Tim Henthorn
What a show! Maybe the most dominant undercurrent was how much product innovation occurred during the height of the pandemic. One silver lining that many vendors on the exhibit floor described to me was the fact that the previous 18 months gave them an opportunity to make significant progress on the backlog that technology businesses sometimes face under normal circumstances. HITEC was an opportunity to showcase all of the incredible work that was completed as a result of addressing customer request queues in addition to the usual forethought from the many capable vendors across the industry.
I originally planned to highlight the key messages from vendors within selected categories of solutions. However, the content plan for this article changed just before publication for a number of reasons. Instead, I’m highlighting the categories themselves to better represent how encompassing the event was from this buyer perspective. Simply stated, nearly any area of a club or hospitality company could find relevant software, technology and services at the HITEC show. Here is what I found as I attempted to get to every booth on the floor and learn about each company, their product announcements and key messages for the event.
|Themes and Trends
|Mobile was the most dominant theme as it relates to functionality existing across various types of systems and solutions.
|A significant amount of hardware was represented at the show including everything from safety buttons to communication solutions and door locks to telephony solutions.
|The methods the industry now has to communicate with their guests and members is increasing by the minute. When your company decides on a tactical approach that supports its strategy, there are many paths and solutions to explore.
|We hear about AI, ML and data science regularly and vendors are taking steps to increase their analytic engines and either prepare or infuse these capabilities into their AI-driven features.
|There was less buzz about IBE and other eCommerce engines, but the vendors that were present have them at the ready when needed.
|Digital entertainment arrived in droves and brought unique video content, casting, remotes, gaming and room technology controls to the table to foster a plethora of experiences for consumers.
|Property Management Systems
|The PMS category was well represented by the marketplace with some of the best known brands accounted for when navigating the large booths on the event floor.
|Point of Sale
|POS solutions were in abundance at the show and are increasing in their interconnectivity as a result of online ordering, tablet ordering, mobile, tip management and many other solutions.
|Many payment solutions were represented, with certain products being front and center in addition to others that were gems among a more comprehensive set of functionality.
|Telephony, WiFi & Network Management
|A strong showing from telephony, Wi-Fi and network management solutions created real value in terms of potential cost savings.
|Voice-activated technology made a respectable showing and appeared in mobile, room technology and other categories.
|Safety buttons entered the market with a splash, providing a range of solutions to fit industry needs and more.
|This category included selected vendors covering the myriad features necessary for most club environments.
|Front Desk Kiosks
|Kiosks were brought by only a handful of vendors, but garnered significant attention from attendees.
|Managing the tips for employees is beginning to shift from an employer responsibility to one co-owned by the guest and employee with technology facilitating the transaction.
|The major door lock companies were at play for attendees to experience their newest solutions that go well beyond mechanical security.
|A couple parking solutions participated this year and showed their new innovation, primarily in the area of touch free consumer facing products.
|As many industries continue along the path of managing data privacy differently, more solutions are entering the markets to enable this.
|Various types of room technology were plentiful, giving attendees more choice than ever.
As seen from the above examples, innovation was everywhere across the exhibit floor. It was evident that vendors took time during the pandemic and are now positioned better than ever to address the needs of the industry. The categories of solutions represented at the event were as abundant and diverse as the solutions within them. Opportunity was visible with every step along the aisles. Additional categories and themes that sprinkled the halls of HITEC included:
|Health & Wellness
|Asset Management & Tracking
|Customer Data Platform
The next steps for hotels and clubs are to get deeper into their budgeting cycle and identify the solutions they may need to further their strategic priorities. HFTP’s HITEC was the perfect start to this, as always. The industry has an incredible number of resources in HFTP, consultants, agencies and the vendor community, all of whom bring knowledge and experience to the work we have ahead of us. We should all be enthusiastic about the years ahead and the trek back to normal they will continue to bring. Consumer demand is in a much better place for many markets. Next up, meetings and events!