Written By: Ting-Bing Wu, HITEC Houston Guest Blogger and Student Volunteer
It was my first HITEC. I ensure it will not be the ONLY one. I am surprised by how much I learned and gained from attending this event. I am also impressed by how organized this event was, especially considering the size of the conference.
As a student volunteer, I was able to experience many different aspects to HITEC. The only problem I had was that I had to make choices — I wish I had a duplicate of myself so that I could attend more sessions.
Student volunteers started to work together on Sunday morning, June 17, the day before HITEC officially started. It was an immediate bonding experience. We worked with HFTP staff members to prepare all the necessary materials and learned how to perform our assignments for the coming days. Everything is well in control from the very beginning. All the signs, the computers and materials are ready before registration officially opens. The working experience was nice. I believe that is why many of us have already begun to make plans to attend more HFTP events in the near future. I have previously participated in several conventions and HITEC was one of the most structured.
If I can recommend a must-see session, Entrepreneur 20X (E20X) is definitely at the top of the list. On the first day of HITEC, participants from all over the world shared their ideas at the competition. Each team has four minutes to present and four minutes to answer judges’ questions. I salute all of the teams for their courage, their creativity, their clear logic and their impromptu responses. Their ideas covered detailed areas of the hospitality industry. Addressing troubles such as the communication between managers and employees, travelers’ inconvenience of carrying luggage and language barriers during travel — these participants used advanced technology to solve these issues. After watching the competition, the participating teams were able to continue sharing their ideas in the exhibit hall in the following days. Hopefully, many of the ideas can bloom and contribute to the industry.
I cannot miss talking about the panel discussions. Fireside Chat: View From the Top Day-to-Day Challenges was a memorable one. Experts from the hospitality industry shared their thoughts about short-term rentals (which means facing Airbnb), managing boards and investors, overcoming the current obstacles (record low unemployment rate, increasing minimum wage, etc.) and how the industry integrates technology to welcome the technology-savvy generation. The stories and examples they mentioned were from their own experiences and real-world hotel stories. The discussion engaged the entire audience. I especially remember one member of the audience identifying himself as a millennial and sharing his expectations from hotels. It is not always easy to hear these real and sincere stories in business.
Of course, the opening and closing keynote speakers, the fun opening party, the 15-minute Tech Talks and all the exhibitors were eye-opening to me, as well. I just had a busy and fulfilling week-long experience.
Are you interested? See you at HITEC in Minneapolis 2019!
Ting-Bing Wu, CHIA is a graduate student at the University of Houston Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management and an official event guest blogger and student volunteer for HITEC® Houston 2018, held June 18–21, 2018 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas USA.