Exploring Solutions in the #HITEC Exhibit Hall

Written by: Jennifer Jones — Official HITEC® Minneapolis 2019 Guest Blogger

As HITEC is now behind us and I unpacked all of the vendor swag and business cards, I wanted to share a recap of a few things that stood out to me at the show —including a vendor attending HITEC for the first time and an E20X participant.

Before HITEC, I wrote the blog post My Credit Card Did Not Think This Was Too Funny that discussed my continuing journey to find the ultimate pay-at-the-table solution to help ease the pain of POS transactions and make it seamless. I received a welcome response from vendors at HITEC. In particular SkyTab, from Shift4Payments, is a recently launched product to help restaurants with a mobile payments solution. SkyTab is available to be integrated to multiple POS brands, including POSitouch and Micros 3700. The solution provides a one-stop shop for merchants, which can be a breath of fresh air in comparison to historically having to wait for certification between devices with your POS vendor, gateway provider and processor. Even better, the process of splitting the check is simple and the functionality is intuitive enough where the server can leave the handheld device with the guest at the table and walk away, so that there is no awkwardness when guests are tipping.

Focal was one of eight participating startups at E20X Minneapolis 2019 that gives a fresh new face to hospitality business intelligence tools. Their multi-faceted product assists revenue optimization designed to make decision-making more efficient, and therefore, see results faster in your hotel’s bottom line. Unlike traditional revenue management centered primarily around rates, Focal combines revenue strategies and helps hotels determine top accounts and marketing campaigns for either a single property or across an entire portfolio. With actionable reports and intuitive dashboards, it introduces collaborative sharing — so you can take immediate action and ask questions now, not wait until the weekly revenue meeting or send in a stale email.

What sets this product apart from others I have seen is that it does not just collect data; it presents the data in a format to help you do something with it.

A newcomer to the HITEC show floor this year is SocialSurvey, a platform that hotels can use to boost their online reputation by simply “uberizing” the guest review experience. After a guest checks in, they immediately receive an automated survey asking for feedback on the interaction they have had with a specific staff member. It is very similar to process when you get dropped off by your Uber driver; you get a personalized message with the name and photo of the agent who assisted with your check-in. You can easily customize the survey.

Having been very successful in the rental car space, auto dealerships and mortgage industries, SocialSurvey has seen this tool improve the customer experience by motivating employees to provide stellar service. It can easily be integrated with some sort of incentive program. What is unique about this collection of guest feedback — it starts when the guest arrives, so hotels can take action immediately if needed, instead of waiting to receive a post-stay negative review.

Many of us agree that the best part of HITEC are the wonderful parties thrown by vendors after the show floor closes. This year, I was so pleased to see the addition of Hospitality Upgrade’s “Party Page” in which they consolidated all of the vendor parties, locations and RSVP links. In past years, I was always acting the part of “cruise ship director,” so I was relieved that I no longer had to manage forwarding out tons of invites to colleagues. Thank you to Hospitality Upgrade for taking one for the team this year and adding one more amazing thing you do for HITEC.

Finally, in closing, HFTP always does a great job organizing the event, but I also do not think they get much credit or recognition. So, thank you HFTP — especially for providing us the HFTP Member Retreat. Our member gift of the water infusion bottle was a great idea, and I will continue to use it throughout the summer during workouts. And, I must give praise for the opportunity to refuel on coffee and a delicious breakfast burrito to help me stay on my feet for another action-packed, productive day!

Jennifer Jones is president at J2 Hospitality Solutions. She is an official event guest blogger for HITEC Minneapolis 2019, taking place June 17–20 at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota USA. Check back on HFTP Connect for more of Jennifer’s experiences at HITEC this year.

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