Going With the Flow: HITEC 2013, Minneapolis

In the coming days, waves of hospitality technologists, executives, experts and vendors will flow through the Minneapolis Convention Center for the 41st Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition and Conference (HITEC), the largest technology show of its kind.

As the mighty Mississippi brings together its tributaries, HITEC is the confluence point for education, needs and solutions; a specialized and powerful channel, depositing rich new technologies on the banks of a transforming industry.  With thousands of registrants and hundreds of vendors expected, delegates from over 50 countries will converge on the Mill City this year.  Hotel rooms were scant as I explored downtown accommodations a few weeks ago.  I was advised at one property the HITEChies are taking over the city, and with the rate quoted, I could tell their yield management systems were really working!

For those of you reading from a distance, a few guesses why you couldn’t make it:  tough to get away from work? Too far? Too expensive?  Over my four years based in Asia-Pacific I was absent for all of these reasons. When I did attend HITEC, I always returned energized and brimming with ideas to help my employer, and on one proud occasion 12 years ago, I re-emerged as Certified Hospitality Technology Professional (CHTP) #143.*

HITEC is a rare chance to break out of the silos to network with peers, tap the latest trends, and discover new and interesting technologies.  I was fortunate my early bosses recognized value to the organization of my engagement and sponsored my visits, but I understand it’s not an easy sell.  If I could sum the benefit of attendance in a short sentence, it would be: to gain depth of perspective in a rapidly changing industry.

As I prepare for Minneapolis, the sessions schedule immediately reveals a familiar HITEC dilemma:  tough choices – doesn’t it always seem the most interesting topics run at the same time?  I note the new formats, including revamped Super Sessions and quick 15-minute Tech Talks and look forward to new ways to absorb the topics.

Below are a few summary stats on timing:

  • 3 Keynote speeches, 4 hours
  • Exhibits, 15 hours
  • 12 exhibitor tutorials, 6 hours
  • 6 tech talks, 1.5 hours
  • Certification reviews (CHTP/CHAE), 4 hours (+ 4-hour exam)
  • Sessions/Boot Camps: 47.5 total presentation hours divided over 35 sessions (and unless half-a-dozen clones will distribute your processing power, your interests will be capped at 15 hours of presentation over 10 sessions)

Over the four days, I’m most keen to learn the latest developments in: cloud computing, mobile (BYOD), guest internet, natural user interface, outsourcing trends and ERP, in addition to ever-important business continuity, security and PCI measures.  I’ll be sure to shed more light in the upcoming days.

* I owe much of my commitment to the hospitality industry to my CHTP designation – the only credential marrying technology with the hospitality domain.  I highly encourage anyone with similar passions to consider the review to prepare for a future exam – it’s not too late! Click here for details.



Neil Foster has held regional leadership roles with Fairmont, Starwood and Silverbirch (operating Marriott, Hilton and Carlson flagged properties) hotel groups in North America, rounded his knowledge of industry-standard technologies in Asia-Pacific as a regional consultant with MICROS Fidelio, and currently serves as an IT consultant with Tech-Tonic Hospitality Solutions.

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.

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