HITEC Dubai 2018: Through the Eyes of Attendees

Students Naftali Tanyongana and Ketan Redraft with the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management (EAHM) collaborated to record and share their experiences over the course of two days at the second annual HITEC Dubai 2018 — which took place December 5–6, 2018 at the Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Day One: “Where Are We, and Where Are We Going?”

One week and counting after my first experience at HITEC in Dubai, and I have had ample time to review the informative experience. In my reflections of the event I found that the industry insights of most value to me came from the panel discussion, The Future of Hospitality: Humans, Automation, and Everything In Between.

The reason that, whilst most of the informative talks focused on the use of different technologies (the EMAAR Hospitality case study being an extremely interesting view on the practical application of these technologies), this panel gave industry leaders the chance to speak broadly on the changing roles of technology in our industry.

Watch Highlights: Day One of HITEC Dubai 2018

In this case, panelists discussed a wide range of subjects on the future of hospitality. Among the topics were the demand for simple and affordable technology, the need for touch-point integrated platforms, the use of technology in businesses big and small, and the use of technology to secure and protect data.

After two years of preparing for GDPR, we are now more than ever looking at the data and information we have. I suggest that anybody reviewing their technologies listen to panelist Ajay Rathi, group senior director IT with Meraas, who warns businesses to be aware of disruptors. He told the audience to ask themselves, “Why is it that you have so much technology and still customers are not happy, and what can we change?”

The highlight of the discussion for me was a comment by panelist Lyle Worthington, CHTP, CIO of The Student Hotel and past president of the HFTP Global board. He stated, “We talk a lot about the future, but we don’t focus on the present and what we need to correct. We need to start treating technology as a critical component of the guest experience and invest in it. In the future we can automate things and make the guest journey more sophisticated.”

These viewpoints stuck with me because they felt like they addressed the general perception of technology in the industry — the idea that new technology represents a competitive advantage over other hotels and an investment towards the future. Whilst it is necessary to innovate and adapt with new technology, I believe it is also the forgotten role of events like HITEC to review the past and the present. Reflections like these are how we optimize the guest experience, which after all is one of the main reasons that we adopt this technology.

Throughout my experience at HITEC I sampled the new technologies of the showroom. I added to my library of industry tech and theory in the session. I high-fived a Robotikworld robot. And yet the time I felt most ready for the future was when we took a step back to look at where we have been, where we are, and where we are going.

I’m excited for the next HITEC and recommend the experience to any leaders. The technology and discussions are indispensable when looking short- and long-term. I look forward to the next conference — 125 days and counting.

See Photos of HITEC Dubai 2018

Day Two: “The Tech Talk Experience”
Written by: Naftali Tanyongana

As part of the HITEC daily program there were “Tech Talks” scheduled on both days.

I felt there were not enough seats in order to accommodate everyone, as interest was massive. As a student at the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management (EAHM), I was interested to hear that one of our professors, Dr. Sanjay Nadkarni, would be presenting at HITEC. His topic focused on Innovation with the Light and Warmth of Hospitality.

In the presentation, Dr. Nadkarni spoke about the two different types of innovation, disruptive and sustained, as well as the relationship between the two. He discussed how initially an innovation starts out as disruptive and over time becomes sustained, relating these to current examples like AirBnB. He created an interactive experience where he challenged the audience to decide whether situations he presented were sustained or disruptive, a fun exercise to keep the audience on their toes.

He then went on to present on the specialized programs at EAHM that focus on the Internet of Things (IoT), big data and virtual reality (VR). He covered a lot of ground in a short amount of time, moving from “the three P’s” (people, planes and profit) to “the three V’s” (volume, variety and velocity) to social, environmental and economic factors, tying them all together. Lastly, Sanjay went on to speak about the technology he is developing that invokes the full use of the five senses, making comparisons between real life and VR.

It was interesting to see an instructor outside of the university setting and in the industry. I understood that professors had a lot of industry experience, certainly enough to teach students, but I was learning now that they also have the knowledge to teach the industry itself. I hope he presents at the next HITEC, as well. I would be interested to see what part of EAHM he showcases next year.

HITEC 2018 brought so many big names from the IT industry and new developments were presented. This was a really great experience and without such great organization from HFTP (Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals) and Naseba, this would not be possible. I am looking forward now to HITEC 2019 in Mallorca, Minneapolis and Dubai.

Review the Comprehensive Post-Event Report for HITEC Dubai 2018

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