by Katherine Darsie

No matter how many times you have been to New York, a trip to the big city is always exciting. My name is Katherine Darsie and I am the media manager at Hospitality Upgrade. I am 24 years old and last week was my second time flying to New York City for the International Hotel, Motel and Restaurant Show (IHMRS), now reinvented as HX: The Hotel Experience – Rooms to Restaurants. Even though we were in the city for the conference, a little sightseeing is always important, so we started off our trip at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. This was an experience that I would recommend for everyone to do at least once when visiting NYC. While the museum suggests two hours to go through the exhibits, my advice would be to not set a time limit. It is an extremely well done tribute to the tragic events that happened on 9/11 and you don’t want to miss any part of the memorial. I certainly plan to go back again as we were pressed for time as the museum reached its closing hour. After leaving the memorial we decided to grab a late dinner in Little Italy, and while waiting for a taxi I experienced a highlight for every tourist in a big city – being asked directions to the closest subway. Who doesn’t love being mistaken for a local? It seemed especially ironic when heading toward a tourist trap like Little Italy!

HX: The Hotel Experience started bright and early on Sunday morning and continued on through Tuesday afternoon. Hospitality Upgrade once again sponsored the Technology Pavilion in this year’s new and improved HX: Tech section of the tradeshow floor. We always have such a fun time in the pavilion sharing space with some very innovative technology companies, this year including our friends from Infor, Agilysys, Cendyn, RoamingAround, HeBS, HP and many more. It was also great to walk around HX: Tech and see so many of the other technology companies that were exhibiting, many of which are new to the hospitality industry. A new feature of the show this year was the HX: Tech stage which included various educational sessions from thought leaders in the technology industry. Our kiosk was right next to the stage so it was great to hear from all of the different speakers throughout the show. Another highlight of the HX: Tech section was the HX: TECHPitch competition. During the competition, nine technology companies pitched their products to attendees who then voted on what they thought was the best product. Congratulations to our friends and next-door kiosk neighbor, Social Tables, who took home the title of HX: TECHPitch winner!

On the last night during the New York Show, Hospitality Upgrade hosts an annual dinner for friends both new and old. This year we had a wonderful group gather to share a family-style Italian dinner at Joanne Trattoria, a restaurant owned by Lady Gaga’s parents. Unfortunately there was no Lady Gaga sighting, but at least the food was delicious! It is always such a great time being able to kick off our tradeshow shoes and socialize after a long day of business. A big thanks to everyone who showed up! I will admit—some of our dinner attendees were slow to move on the last day of HX!

Overall HX: The Hotel Experience was a successful reinvention/rebranding of IHMRS. Throughout the three days of the show I heard nothing but compliments from both attendees and exhibitors. The use of the stages with live sessions brought valuable attendees to sections of the tradeshow that were of interest to them, which was a major plus for exhibitors looking to sell products in certain categories. All in all there was strong attendance, great networking and a fun time was had by all. For me, the best part of HX was the time spent in the Big Apple. You don’t have to ask me twice to spend a few days in New York City!