Written By: Ron Hardin
It sounds like one of those essays you had to write in school: “what I did on my summer vacation,” “what extracurricular activities mean to me.” It also sounds blindingly obvious – of course HITEC Toronto is important. After all, it is by far the world’s largest and oldest hospitality technology exposition and conference brand. HITEC Toronto is also historically significant, being the first-ever HITEC North America event to be held outside of the United States. #HITECtor will take center stage from June 26-29, anchoring a trilogy of international events in 2017 that include the debut of HITEC Amsterdam and HITEC Dubai. So, HITEC is clearly a big deal. But why?
The importance of HITEC really depends on who you are, and what you are looking to get out of it. Exhibitors hope to elevate the visibility of their products and services, generate leads, network with existing customers and (hopefully) outshine their competitors. Sometimes, I have heard vendors question the value proposition of exhibiting at HITEC, or waffle on whether they were going to exhibit. As an industry veteran who has worked on both the vendor and customer side of the world (and attended over 20 HITECs), I would tell these vendors that the value of HITEC is bigger than today’s booth traffic – I consider it table-stakes in the hospitality technology industry.
You have to be in it to win it. It is no exaggeration when I tell you that, as a buyer, I have disqualified vendors from consideration because they did not attend HITEC. It told me that they were not committed to an industry and professional community that is bigger than any one vendor. Heaven forbid if you are that vendor who manages to get me on the phone by saying that you specialize in hotels and, when asked if you are going to be at HITEC, you say, “what is HITEC?” – Click. True story.
For attendees, HITEC is not just important, it is invaluable. “Career Development” is a thing. It does not happen by itself, and it does not happen without looking up from your desk. Sure, there is a lot of immediate, important work to accomplish at HITEC – shopping for new stuff, seeing product demos, meeting face-to-face with your key suppliers. For me, it was (and is) the incubator of so many of my professional relationships within the industry.
I started attending HITEC before I was a member of HFTP. One of the reasons I joined HFTP (the producer of HITEC) is because HITEC showed me that there was a real community in our industry, and that being a hospitality industry professional meant being a more active member of that community. HITEC was instrumental in my career development, and I am just as excited about attending this year’s event in Toronto as I was when I attended my first HITEC; how many years ago, I am not willing to admit.
The educational programs and the social events are two equally important pillars supporting the HITEC trade show – although late-night participation in the latter is not always conducive to morning participation in the former. Take advantage of the opportunities to network, socialize and enjoy the various venues of the host city.
Plan your schedule! I have never come home from HITEC and felt like I just had too much time. Look at the educational agenda and put the subjects that interest you in your calendar. Or better yet, download the HITEC app and streamline your planning efforts for both the trade show and the educational program. When you are planning your schedule, be sure to allocate time for Entrepreneur 20X. The E20X pitch session is going to be a “must-see,” where a dozen or so industry startups do four minute pitches to a panel of judges. There is a $5,000 USD grand-prize Judge’s Award, and attendees can vote for their favorite to win the People’s Startup Award in the HITEC 2017 app.
So, yes, it is important. And I can not wait!
Ron Hardin is principal at RonHardin.TECH Consulting, and an official HITEC Toronto Guest Blogger for HFTP Connect. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org