Heermans HITEC 2018

The Realities of a Memorable Guest Experience

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Written By: Kara Heermans, an official guest blogger for HITEC Houston 2018

HITEC always kicks things off with a lot of energy and this year was no exception! It was lovely to see Samsung coordinate with HFTP this year on the opening event. The shared experience of everyone enjoying themselves at the House of Blues and puttin’ the hands up to Flo Rida fostered a fun moment of togetherness in the industry. Hoteliers and solution providers all have distinct and full agendas for most of the conference, so a moment for the hospitality industry to collectively celebrate and jump around functioned like a massive pep rally before the big game. And the concert venue vibe continued to the show floor—as soon as the doors opened in the morning, the exhibit hall was hopping (maybe not hip-hopping, but there was a lot of excitement).

As a vendor, I spend most of my time in the exhibit hall. The atmosphere can sometimes take on a carnival-like flair with the flashing of TV screens, drawings for prizes and the occasional calling out for you to check something out. I don’t think I saw any funnel cakes, but our booth is near Infor’s famous espresso machine. A mini basketball hoop inside a clear globe is one of the interesting giveaways I spotted. And it may have just been illusions through the crowd, but I am pretty sure I saw a bear playing bean bags and a medieval knight walking around with a sword.

I am hearing awe at how much things have advanced in just one year. Integrations seem to be capturing a lot of attention. Telkonet’s ability to manage the thermostat and in-room devices when it senses guests are away from the room is getting a few people thinking. I have also heard some chattering about wall plates with speakers that play white noise and voice assistants replacing phones in the room for guest services.

It is easy to both get caught up in the excitement of new technology, as well as to experience some trepidation amongst all the clamor so that you might not know where to look first, or how to begin navigating the exhibit hall space. This may be a good parallel of being in your guests’ shoes and how it may feel sometimes visiting an unfamiliar space that has smart technology filling every nook. As you are looking around, consider: Will the technology be approachable, enticing and make the experience better? Or will it be confusing, intimidating and perhaps most important—will it work?

It is important as you invest in and implement more technology, that you are building a harmonious environment for guests and a technological eco system that you can reasonably manage and support. If your new technology can’t work with your other new technology or existing technology, it might not create that seamless experience or be utilized enough to solve problems as intended.

Don’t be afraid to bring your challenges to the exhibit hall and look to technology for some answers — we vendors are here and ready to talk to you! But keep the big picture in mind too. Having technologies integrated and working together can take a lot of work behind the scenes and may not have short term financial rewards. But in the long run, investing in an integrated experience is what holds the guest experience together. Most companies now think about these things – like offering pre-defined APIs or designing their products deliberately to work openly with other product categories. There might be some cracks in between products sets and customer intent – as you add technology, don’t forget to also look for partners who can fill those gaps to connect and support all your pieces. Including that effort now ensures you end up with a unified system that works and wows.

Kara Heermans, vice president of product management and user experience at Sonifi Solutions, is an official guest blogger for HITEC® Houston 2018, taking place June 18–21, 2018 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas USA.

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