Written By: Sherif Mamdouh, official guest blogger for HITEC® Amsterdam 2018
This has been my first HITEC conference, and it has been one of the most informative three days I have had since I entered the world of hospitality a couple of years ago.
While I prepared for the conference, I read up on the latest technological innovations, and on startups trying to overthrow OTAs. I read about revenue management and machine learning. Stepping off the plane in Amsterdam, I was confident I had done my homework and was ready to keep up with all the technical conversations I was going to have.
Things didn’t exactly go as I had planned.
After attending the E20X pitch competition, going to dinner with a dozen CIOs and CFOs, and covering a panel discussion on AI and voice recognition, I realized I was not at a geeky tech conference. I was at an international gathering of highly skilled professionals, versed in a myriad of disciplines that directly or indirectly add value to the hospitality industry. This was a place where the common denominators were passion for service, love for human interactions and a genuine openness to the world.
It wasn’t about tech. It never has been. It was about people.
Hospitality is the ultimate people business. This statement is not only valid because hotels have to satisfy their guests. Many of the exhibitors of HITEC Amsterdam expressed concern for the well-being of hotel staff, the environment and the economic welfare of the populations at the destinations. No one was competing. Burgeoning entrepreneurs, young graduates and seasoned businessmen all coalesced with a single wish: to raise the bar of how technology can better serve the hospitality industry.
Although I feel women are somewhat underrepresented in the industry, I am hopeful as I see this trend decreasing when we look at the new generation of hospitality managers. For instance, Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne’s student base has a slight female majority, and we will definitely see more and more of them taking leading roles in the many exciting changes to come. This was perfectly illustrated by KITRO — the food waste company that uses AI, created by two female EHL graduates, and ultimately won the Judge’s Choice Award at the E20X pitch competition.
KITRO accepts the E20X Judge’s Choice Award. This innovative startup was selected by an expert panel.
I will be looking back at the three days I’ve spent quite fondly. I have met so many interesting people, each with their own past, interests and aspirations and each one has helped me gain insight into the future of hospitality.
As long as this spirit lives on, I will be coming back to HITEC in Europe.
Sherif Mamdouh is the external communications manager at Ecole hôteliere de Lausanne (EHL) and the official guest blogger for HITEC® Amsterdam 2018, taking place 11-13 April 2018 at the RAI Amsterdam Convention Centre in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
HFTP is currently seeking official event guest bloggers for HITEC Houston 2018. Take advantage of complimentary registration to the world’s largest hospitality technology show, bringing the brightest minds and hottest technology from around the world together to one place. Share your insights and experiences from this elite event with HFTP’s global audience. HITEC Houston will take place June 18-21, 2018 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas USA.
If you are interested, please send a brief description on why you would make a good guest blogger, along with any writing samples to Briana Gilmore, HFTP communications coordinator, at Briana.Gilmore@hftp.org.