In 2013, HFTP took a chance on adding a relatively new type of technology to HITEC, a “program guide” for a smart phone. The feedback we received from attendees was good and last year, again, according to the attendees, was better than the year before. With so many new types of products available and stakeholders to educate in the technology arena, HITEC had an even greater challenge for 2015. This year HITEC attendees will “experience” one of the first fully-integrated destination meeting applications (and optimized mobile web sites) for a smart phone ever — the HITEC 2015 Mobile Experience®. We think it will be so cutting-edge that we have gone away from our traditional 100-plus page HITEC Program and have converted a majority of our paper materials to digital.
Before I go on about Experience, let me regress a bit to share with you the kind of pressure that meeting planners, representing technology for an entire industry of competitors, face. Last year, at HITEC, we lost our internet connection for about 60 seconds. There were only a couple of people in line at registration and worst case scenario: an attendee had to wait an extra minute for his badge to print. As luck would have it, a company who provides internet (and was not selected to be the internet service provider) sent out to the world that our internet was down and it was our fault for not selecting “XYZ” internet provider. It was kind of like 1,000 guests giving unfair feedback on TRI… well, you know where, but guest satisfaction is the name of the game. On the flip side of that, we are expected to demonstrate great technology which is not always out of beta. We make it a point to select our partners with care and due diligence.
With that said, what’s so different or unusual about Experience? From every point of an attendee’s trip, the app will be a guide — from arrival at the Austin Airport, trip to the hotel, to Austin nightlife, to the Austin Convention Center and to HITEC exhibit booths or education, Experience will show the way. The mobile application provides attendees, depending on what sponsored hotel they are staying at, special access and communication directly to the hotels. For example, an attendee has just finished his/her day as the exhibit hall closes, whips out his/her smart phone and orders room service so it is waiting upon arrival. Additionally, if an attendee wants to experience Austin nightlife or secure a dinner reservation, HITEC Mobile Experience provides information about the downtown Austin area including hotels, bars and restaurants.
Here are just a few of its features:
• Mapping and wayfinding that assists getting around town or just from one booth to another.
• Ability to mark favorites on the exhibit floor plan of key exhibitors.
• Tools that allow HFTP to make real time updates to the mobile application.
• The ability to review the daily schedule/agenda and mark favorites. Attendees will also have the capability to sort the schedule by selected lists.
• The option to communicate directly with HFTP via phone, e-mail and directly to the Austin Convention Center.
• Increased number of restaurant and bar options for attendees to make reservations and view menus.
• Beacon Technology (via a strategic alliance between Roaming Around strategic and Interactive Sites) that enables beacon and GPS messaging.
• Welcome message upon arrival at the Austin Airport.
• HFTP can message and communicate with attendees, exhibitors, new attendees or any defined segment based on profile at any time during HITEC.
• Ability for hotels and restaurants to offer text based promotions via beacon technology.
• Attendees staying at participating hotels will also have the added value of:
Access to hotel services with quick dial phone numbers;
Ground and air transportation;
Local maps with directions;
“My Event” link back to the applications;
Dining and lounges at the hotel and local area;
Things to do at the hotel and locally;
Tell us now – solve, share and suggest; and
Messaging to HITEC attendees only.
The HITEC 2015 Mobile Experience is powered by Interactive Sites. Beacon and GPS technology is provided by strategic alliances with Interactive Sites, HFTP and Roaming Around. Enhanced way finding is provided through an alliance with Interactive Sites by 22 miles.
If you are attending HITEC 2015, you may download the app from the Apple Store, Google Play or use the Optimized Mobile Website at www.hitec2015.org.
Frank Wolfe, CAE, is the CEO of Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP) and an inductee into the International Hospitality Technology Hall of Fame and a Paragon Award winner. He often speaks on hospitality and travel related issues. He is an author, speaker and an advocate of careers in hospitality technology or finance. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter @frankwolfe. Or Facebook: Frank I. Wolfe