There are a lot of reasons to attend HITEC. For some, it is about the exhibit hall – the opportunity to address an issue or to see what’s new and exciting in the industry. For others, it is a social occasion – time to meet industry friends we see all too infrequently or have a blast at that big vendor bash. When I was on the hotelier side, it was my opportunity to meet nearly every vendor I did business with in one spot – I just expected them to be there (let’s face it – sometimes you can be more noticed by your lack of participation than the size of your booth).
But to be perfectly honest, for a long time, I never really looked at HITEC as a chance to learn. As an IT guy, I usually felt the education sessions just didn’t quite measure up. Then two things happened that changed my perception. The first was that sessions started changing. Technology’s impact on the industry began growing at a much faster rate. As a result, the sessions changed too. They became more relevant to the technology needs and problems of the industry. New types of sessions like Tech Tours appeared and Boot Camps began to take on more topics. In general for me, the sessions became more relatable to my job and thus more meaningful.
I began to wonder – how did this happen? I started to look around and the second change came my way. I got the opportunity to participate on the HITEC Advisory Council for a few years. The HAC is the group that plans the educational and general sessions. In joining the HAC, I learned just how it all comes together.
If you don’t know, the topics for the education sessions are developed over a 3 day period about 8 or 9 months before the next HITEC. A very dedicated group of 20 or so volunteers and a contingent of HFTP staff spend days pouring over surveys from the prior year; identifying current and emerging technology trends; discussing new and exciting ways of delivering programs to attendees and hammering out a high level sketch of what the next education program will look like.
But it doesn’t end there. Each of these volunteers works hard for the next 9 months to create programs around the topics, to find great speakers and presenters to share this information and to review presentations to ensure that an education session is just that – an education session – not a captive sales pitch.
Take time to peruse the educational schedule – enjoy the opportunity to get some great industry and technical insight. And if you happen across someone wearing a HITEC Advisory Council Ribbon – give them your feedback and let them know what you think – they are always looking for great ideas for next year.
James is the president of James Lingle Consulting. In his consulting business James works with both vendors and hoteliers across a wide range of needs. Actively involved in the industry, James is currently a director at large for the HFTP Rocky Mountain chapter and has served on the HITEC Advisory Council.
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