Stuff That Caught My Eye — 2013 Edition
Every year the first thing I do at HITEC, pretty much to the exclusion of all else, is wander each and every aisle. I’m in that zone between focus and apathy, just cruising for new vendors, products, marketing … things … that catch my eye.
In no particular order, here are a few of the people and companies that, primarily because of product and in some cases product category, caught my eye this year.
A brief caveat, I have no relationship with any vendor mentioned, and in no way should mention here be construed as endorsement or recommendation. In most cases my opinions and thoughts were shaped by a brief, but universally smart and engaging conversation.
Found Money – T.I.B.A Parking Systems
Laugh if you want to, but my first reaction to seeing a parking management system vendor at HITEC was ‘brilliant’. T.I.B.A are the first vendor I’ve seen on the floor in years … short of Nor1 in last years post on good hospitality products … that are finding new money for their clients in heretofore not fully exploited areas.
Let’s face it, everybody hates paying for parking, but that real estate around your property is at the same time getting increasingly expensive come tax time and more valuable as sprawl takes over our open spaces. Why not exploit that value and add it as an additional revenue stream? Why not indeed, and T.I.B.A seems to have the equipment, but more importantly the core parking management expertise to add money right to the bottom line.
New and Better Tools — social tables
New to direct sales into the hospitality market (and to HITEC), coming over from the event planning world (with appropriately trendy all lower case company name?) is social tables. What first caught my eye about this company was that I was randomly selected to pick the booth attendant who was going to make the coffee run,
… but I would’ve found ’em anyway!
After the shenanigans, what actually pulled me into their booth was what I’d categorize as “crisp, smart looking software.” Their event / resource planning and seating management products looked fresh, crisp, modern … all things I look for in my own work as well as the work of others. I spoke with Marketing Manager Trevor Lynn on a few issues that I remember from my own (feeble) event planning performances in the past, as well as some pain points I hear from friends in the group revenue business. He conveyed to me that his clients are seeing real, tangible (i.e. revenue) benefit from the improvements in ease of use, modeling and analytical capability advances this young team has built into their offering. Definitely worth a look if you need that sort of thing.
Getting Ready for the BYOD World
These next couple of companies intrigue me because both are gearing up for or enabling the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) world that’s coming … fast.
OpenWays has been around for a few years as I recall, but my first exposure to them was in the hard tech/software press where I usually hang my hat. They’ve been at HITEC for a couple of years, but their story is really coming of age this year. What really floats my boat about what OpenWays is doing is that their enabling mobile (any mobile, from flip phones to those goofily oversized Android tablets from Samsung) to open new or existing door locks. You read that right. These guys have figured out how to ubiquitously open pretty much any lock from any random device a guest might have. As a tech head I think that’s pretty inventive just standalone, but when I put on my hospitality hat I really start to get excited about how this technology can be woven into a larger, more robust BYOD / mobility strategy!
Just as an aside, in speaking with Michael Cohen, SVP Business Development for OpenWays, he brought up a capability that I had just never thought of … the ability to use staff BYOD devices as master keys, mitigating some of the risk and issues involved with putting actual, physical keys in the hands of staff. I expressed some concern about that much capability and power in a non-company-owned BYOD, an issue not unique to OpenWays I might add, but the team seems to have thought it through and had answers for my worries.
This next company, HotelStand-Up and their product seem young and still developing, but what really grabbed me was that they are, from the start, designed as a staff facing, dedicated hotel information management BYOD solution. To me, they are a bellwether that staff BYOD is coming of age … young, smart product teams are working on new products based on the assumption that staff BYOD is the way of the future.
This confirms the message conveyed during Tuesday’s Super Session on Bring Your Own Device: Opportunities and Considerations. The panelists for that session hammered home the idea that Gen-Z, the next wave in our employee pool, were born and raised on touch and mobile. They know no other way to interact with technology! Vendor and hoteliers alike need to embrace and extend the vision like HotelStand-Up.
An Important BYOD Risk Note
Much as vendor mentions here are not an endorsement, I have not done nor am I particularly well qualified to assess the risk associated with these or any ANY other staff facing BYOD vendors. Please, please, please review the session notes from the BYOD Super Session mentioned above, and then conduct an extensive policy and procedural review of your own before accepting any new solution into your IT environment!
No list of eye-catching anything(s) at this year’s HITEC would be complete without great big honorable-mention to Navis. Kudos to their marketing team for developing a clever marketing strategy and coordinated “Ninja” black outfits that made them stand out without looking stupid. Job well done!
Brad More is a former Naval Aviator who stumbled into hospitality technology and found a home. He is co-founder and president of Atri Leo, a new company focused on the practical application of technology to hospitality. Follow Brad on Twitter@brmore or e-mail him for more information.
The content published in this section was provided by HITEC Guest Bloggers. The information is the view/opinions of the Guest Bloggers and not of HFTP, nor of any person or organization affiliated or doing business with HFTP.