My wife was asking me the same questions, especially since getting me to Baltimore required a six hour drive round trip to drop me at the airport; I’ve wisely arranged for a regional shuttle to get me back. After listening to our back and forth a bit, my eldest daughter piped up and said, “Because it’s nerd networking for hotel geeks, Dad!”
While I might not have chosen those exact words, she was spot on … it hit me squarely in the forehead that HITEC is about people, stupid!
This should not have been as surprising a revelation as it was.
I’ve spent those same last few weeks arranging times to meet people and vendors, lining up old friends to visit with, and scheduling co-workers with whom I would like to enjoy a tasty adult beverage. Everyone, it turns out, has a calendar to keep at HITEC.
Every conversation I have goes something like “Can’t make it them, I’m talking to my vendors,” they’ll say. Or “Well, I’m swamped Wednesday, but give me a call between 5 and 5:15 Tuesday night and we’ll see if we’re in the same part of the convention hall.”
It seems this show is about the people for all of us!
So, what kinds of conversations go on at HITEC?
I gave it some thought and asked around.
To be sure, there are people coming this year because they have budget to burn or an active project. These folks are coming to see a group of vendors all in one place, maybe not to buy right away, but definitely to browse. To narrow the field, meet some folks, and maybe extend an invitation or two to visit the home office in Scottsdale. For what it’s worth, as a former exhibitor, we love you guys!
Alas, like the last year or so, I’ll wager that this probably isn’t all of us, or even most of us, but maybe a few.
A surprisingly large number of attendees are coming this year, and every year, to meet with their current vendors. This, of course, makes perfect sense when you think about it.
Sure, there are annual meetings and users groups and such, but where else can you schedule face time with the executives of each of your vendors all in one or two days? Nowhere but HITEC (baby).
Again, putting on my former exhibitor hat, we like you guys quite a bit also, but really we’d much rather talk to those first guys a bit more!
Then there are the guys like me.
I’m coming because HITEC is the one time of year where I can talk to potential customers and prospects, all in one place. I don’t have to earn a few hundred thousand airline miles to meet and greet them. They’re all here.
At HITEC I like to wander, and at almost every corner I run into business friends I haven’t spoken to since last year despite my annual pronouncements that I will look you up next time I’m in town.
Karen and Claudia, this one’s for you. I promise I’ll be better this year, really.
Only at HITEC can I reconnect with co-workers from the “old days” who’ve moved on to other companies and positions. They’re all here too. For this one week a year, this moment removed from “real work” and everyday bustle, everybody is here. I’d say that makes HITEC entirely about people.
Brad More is a former Naval Aviator who stumbled into hospitality technology and found a home. He is co-founder and president of Atri Leo, a new company focused on the practical application of technology to hospitality. Follow Brad on Twitter @brmore or e-mail him for more information.
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