By Patricia Walton
The Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition & Conference (HITEC) is a four-day event, complete with expert speakers and an unrivaled list of exhibitors. Hosted by the Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP), the event this year was outstanding as always – drawing over 6,000 attendees, nearly 400 exhibiting companies, and over 850 booths set-up in the exhibit hall.
Three dynamic general sessions highlighted the educational portion of the event. The first day kicked off with the Opening Keynote presentation “Beyond Tomorrow: The Human Revolution” by Chris Riddell, an award-winning global futurist and industry-recognized inspirational speaker. Riddel is an expert commentator about media, technology, and emerging digital trends in our super-connected world.
On day two, the session “Technology Talk in the C-suite: 2020 and Beyond," did an excellent job exploring how top hotel brands are placing priority in their technology strategies. The panel was moderated by William “Chip” Rogers – president and CEO of AHLA – and featured Ken Greene, president, Americas for Radisson Hotel Group; Greg Mount, president and CEO of RLH Corp.; and Peter Strebel, president of Omni Hotels & Resorts.
The closing general session was presented by Jon Picard on day 3, "The Digital Transformation of Sustainability: A Conversation at the Edge of Now," and did an excellent job at looking ahead to the future. Picard is a visionary and design innovator who understood the “internet of things” long before connectivity became the driver that it is today.
Aside from the stimulating keynote sessions, another key event during HITEC was the Entrepreneur 20X (E20X) – HITEC’s competition for outstanding innovation. The competition featured 8 startups, with TraknProtect taking home the E20X Judge's Award grand prize of $5,000 USD, and SABA Hospitality Technology Solutions was chosen by conference attendees – via the HFTP Multi-event app – as the E20X People's Choice Award winner.
Although there was a plethora of innovative and exciting brands present at the event, we managed to narrow down our favorites – which was no easy task, believe us!
In no particular order, here’s a snapshot of who we think you should have on your radar if you want to take your property’s tech services to the next level:
- LG: Ahead of HITEC, LG Business Solutions officially launched the LG Transparent OLED digital signage display in the United States. The razor-thin, see-through display can be used to deliver a unique customer experience. Video on the 55-inch class display is augmented by seeing objects and images behind the screen. While at HITEC, LG Business Solutions and Amazon announced plans to integrate Alexa for Hospitality with LG’s hotel TVs. The LG TV will also display real-time visual notifications on-screen to inform guests about activities happening at the hotel, such as happy hour.
- Cendyn/Hospitality Plus: Cendyn, the world’s leading hotel CRM provider, and Hospitality Plus, the online distribution and digital marketing experts, have announced a collaborative initiative that will enable hoteliers to enhance the guest experience throughout their travel journey. Hospitality Plus work with hoteliers across multiple regions to future proof their digital engagement strategies. Their guidance and counsel for hoteliers provides solutions for revenue management, guest engagement, digital marketing, website performance, market intelligence and online reputation. This collaboration with Cendyn will now enable hoteliers to enhance how they engage with their guests using the right message, at the right time, through the right channel, using the world’s leading hotel CRM platform.
- Broadband Hospitality/Allin Interactive: Broadband Hospitality (BBH) and Florida-based Allin Interactive announced that they have completed a transaction to merge the companies into a single-source for innovative communications technology solutions. The company now offers hotels, resorts, cruise lines, senior living communities, student housing and multiple dwelling units (MDU) a total, unified technology solution including infrastructure, television content, and interactive customer-facing services delivered and supported by a preferred provider with over 50 years of combined hospitality technology experience.
- Elavon: Elavon’s omni-channel, global network provides a reliable solution for hotels to accept payments in all environments including at the front-desk, online, over the phone or anywhere guests want to check-out. They provide full authorization, processing, settlement and support for credit and debit card transactions. Elavon is the intermediary between your hotel, the card issuing bank and the credit card network throughout the payment process. Built exclusively for hotels, Converge Hospitality (CoHo) enables hotels to securely send an invoice providing instant payment for a hotel-related charge.
- Beekeeper: Last year’s winners of HITEC’s E20X People’s Choice, Beekeeper helps realize the power, potential, and value of every single employee. The Beekeeper team communication app provides real-time unified communications for your frontline and mobile workforce. Internal teams benefit from communication and productivity tools such as secure messaging, content management, engagement analytics, employee surveys, and more. Their platform makes content accessible to everyone, which in turn reduces miscommunication, increases engagement and retention, and minimizes translation costs with instant translation for any post or comment.
- Rainmaker: Rainmaker’s integrated solutions allow hotels, resorts and casinos to maximize profit from every segment of their business. Rainmaker’s guestrev® optimizes room rates to reflect guests’ spend across their entire property. Their intelligent profit platform helps properties optimize revenue, drive profitability, and save valuable time. guestrev® enables hoteliers to better understand demand and set rates that optimize guest room and non-room revenue across various guest segments. Properties using the platform see an average revenue lift of 7-10%!
- Benbria: Benbria – the leading provider of omni-channel guest experience solutions – delighted attendees with their unique experiential booth. Attendees received a demonstration of how hoteliers can measure the guest experience and engage with them across different channels, on a single platform. These displays presented the guest experience of the future – where they can engage in real-time across multiple touchpoints and devices, provide feedback on their experience in-the-moment, and be recovered in real-time should the experience not meet the guest’s expectations.
- Sonifi: SONIFI Solutions introduced SORA – its next-generation interactive platform for hospitality, offering smart features and visually compelling interfaces to deliver memorable and personalized guest experiences. The platform operates on and supports multiple in-room hardware options—including Google Chromecast, set-top-boxes, and smart TVs. In addition to foundational features such as an interactive program guide, video on demand, and a hotel directory, incremental custom apps can also be enabled on SORA, such as hotel loyalty features or other branded and sponsored content.
- Crave Interactive: Crave Interactive announced the launch of the Crave Video Service Platform (Crave VSP), allowing real-person multi-lingual services to be delivered to guests wherever they are. Crave VSP will allow lucrative concierge services to be delivered to 4-star hotels, bringing 5-star service to the guests and increasing revenues for the hotel operators. It can also be used for general guest service and reservation teams, increasing the effectiveness of each guest interaction. Crave VSP supports video, voice and text communication. Guests simply click the service they want and the language they desire from available options. Crave VSP is accessed via a web browser window, and as such it can be easily integrated into existing hotel apps, as well being available via Crave in-room tablets and lobby kiosks.
- Blueprint RF: Blueprint RF’s introduced its completely reimagined and redesigned Customer Dashboard, providing a quick view of overall network health and drill-down access for details including; circuit consumption, routine circuit test speeds, equipment uptime and locations (within the hotel property), authentication details, daily bandwidth tier selections, primary network users, internet traffic patterns, PMS link quality, call ticket details and technical site visit history, equipment warranties, and much more. The result creates powerful views and combinations keeping hotel facility and IT managers fully informed.
After coming back from four days in Minneapolis for HITEC 2019, it’s apparent that tech in hospitality is at an all-time high. From in-room tablets and app-powered rooms keys, to guest management platforms and secure wi-fi networks, it’s never been a more exciting time to be a hospitality technology company.