HITEC 2018 Hidden Treasures

By Jennifer Jones, HITEC 2018 Guest Blogger

In the sea of exhibitors, it’s tough to get through the entire exhibit hall every year. In addition, there are general sessions to attend, Tech Talks to listen to and educational forums to sit in. How can one possibly get through it all? Allow me to be your personal concierge to point out a few hidden treasures I found on the showroom floor. These are a fraction of what you can find along those aisles, so take my suggestions and continue to do your own explorations. There is one last day left to find those hidden gems.

In continuation from my previous blog post “A European Vacation,” my saga for the perfect pay at the table experience goes on. One option in this category that I discovered is eTouchMenu, a provider of a slick new tablet POS overlay that can turn your pay at table experience into a digital dream. eTouchmenu integrates with most POS systems and is payment gateway agnostic. They showcased the new Ingenico M70, an EMV-compliant handheld touchscreen. There are a variety of sizes, ranging from 7-inches to 15-inches. The user interface can be custom designed and can accommodate functionality that is important during the payment process, like splitting a check.

As voice-based technology has already been in our homes for a few years now, its use in the hospitality space began to make its debut this year at HITEC. Volara, using the Amazon Echo, provides software that allows guests to interact with Alexa and integrates to a number of touchpoints to enrich the guest experience. “Alexa, turn the TV to ESPN,” is a simple example with an integration to an IPTV provider. “Alexa, send me more towels” in which she responds back saying “How many?” triggers a workflow in a rapid response system to have a housekeeper deliver some to your room. Volara touts that their platform is the most accurate in the industry applying best practices in hospitality-specific vocabulary variations. Where voiced-based technology can begin to learn your voice in your home via everyday interactions, in a hotel room it’s more challenging since guests can change daily. Volara can help your team configure responses that involve upsell opportunities, as well as trigger a warm, personalized message from the bride and groom to their guests at the hotel.

Last is a familiar face on the HITEC floor, ALICE, which brings wearables into the market for a hands-free, discrete way for staff to receive notifications while they’re on the go. Partnering with Samsung, the Gear SE Watch delivers a trimmed down interface with a bezel control that turns to make selections, as well as a touchscreen to easily mark tasks as “done.” There’s no more need to carry around clunky, noisy, walkie-talkies. Nor will your staff be heads-down in a mobile phone which can look like they are attending to personal messages or browsing Facebook. As for alerts, your staff receives silent vibrations from the watch and if they are busy, no need to worry about it being disruptive, especially if the team member is currently interacting with a guest.

Of course there are more nuggets of treasure across the showroom floor. If you have a specific technology in mind, do a search in the HFTP Event App by product category. Take a chance and speak with a new exhibitor to see if you can find your own treasures. And if you do, feel free to share yours with me at: jj@j2hospitalitysolutions.com

Jennifer Jones, president at J2 Hospitality 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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