Behind the Scenes with HITEC 2016

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Tudgay_Richard150sqHITEC season is beginning to pick up speed and HITEC Advisory Council Chair, Richard Tudgay, is excited to share what this year’s event has in store for attendees. This year’s event will take place in New Orleans, La. USA June 20-23 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Start-up pitch competition, Entrepreneur 20X (E20X), will be back following an impressively successful debut at HITEC 2015, along with exceptional educational programming, numerous networking opportunities, and a top-notch show floor filled with the industry’s best vendors.

Each year, the HITEC advisory council (HAC) works tirelessly to be sure that HITEC is delivering the greatest experience possible to attendees and exhibitors. The council is comprised of professionals from across the industry, including allied groups, to ensure a well-rounded event that is representative of the entire industry. Tudgay explains, “The planning went very well because of the different opinions and viewpoints that each council member brought.” This year, the HAC includes voices from American Hotel and Lodging Association (AH&LA), Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI), Hospitality Technology Next Generation (HTNG) and the International Hospitality Information Technology Association (iHITA). In working together, this group is able to further the industry as a whole and create an environment which fosters innovation, learning and success.

HITEC 2016’s education schedule is as diverse as ever. Recurring topics that “still bring a packed session room are: strategy for a new build, business continuity and disaster recovery,” reports Tudgay. Attendees will also find session on robotics, the digital customer journey, retaining and acquiring talent, millennial guest expectation, security and much more. Tudgay continues, “The fact that industry subject matter experts talk about these topics and offer a depth of knowledge on important topics offers high value to the program.”

Announced earlier this week, Entrepreneur 20X will return for a second consecutive year. The world’s top talent is invited to apply to pitch their innovative, cutting-edge technologies to a panel of industry experts for the chance to win the grand prize of $5,000 USD and a spot in the Entrepreneur 20X Kiosk Pavillion on the HITEC show floor. This year, HFTP is introducing the creation of a seed fund, E20X, to incubate and mentor selected start-ups. There is already a lot of buzz surrounding the event as companies are submitting their interest in participating. Last year’s E20X winner, Whistle, will be featured in the E20X Kiosk Pavillion and is eager to see what other technologies are emerging in the industry. When asked about the impact of participating in E20X on Whistle’s business, Christopher Hovanessian, co-founder of Whistle, says, “Whistle is currently working on executing partnerships, established as a direct result of [E20X].” Many of E20X’s participants have reported that they now have a better understanding on the needs and wants of the industry based on feedback from E20X judges and spectators.

Perhaps one of the most exhilarating aspects of HITEC is the impressive show floor. This year will not disappoint. Tudgay recommends everyone to attend “because all of the vendors are in one place, which means that you can meet with vendors that you have never met with, you can see business trends that are coming out or find new business ideas.” With almost 900 booths on the show floor, there is sure to be a vendor for any and everything related to the industry.

Registration and housing are now open for anyone who wishes to attend. Be sure to secure a spot soon to witness all of the magic that HITEC has to offer. See you in New Orleans!

*Tudgay’s original interview was first published in the Spring issue of Hospitality Upgrade.

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