While the Tech Talks have seemed a little hidden in the back of the expo center of vendors, they have quickly become my favorite part of the conference. If you have not had the chance to attend one yet, picture 10 to 15 people — a mix of executives, mid-level professionals and students – all gathered to discuss and/or debate a new technology or changing behavior within our hospitality world. It’s kind of a typical brown bag lunch-and-learn session, on steroids and HITEC style.
During my first Tech Talk, we learned about the Pineapple Search Engine, which is currently in development by HFTP and hopefully will be ready for release by the end of the year. The Pineapple Search Engine, named after the common symbol for hospitality, will be a valuable resource to our industry, as it will allow us to search for industry specific acronyms or codes and research articles and other hospitality-related news quickly and easily. This new tool is being created for the hospitality industry by our hospitality professionals. I am hopeful that this will serve as a valuable training tool as new Standing Dog employees will be able to easily search to learn more about our hotel-specific and unique terms- PMS, CMS, SRP, etc.
My second Tech Talk discussion was “The Impact of Alternative Accommodations on the Travel and Hospitality Industry.” The biggest point made through this discussion is that hotels shouldn’t be scared about the growing popularity of alternative accommodations (For example, Air BNB and VRBO.) Instead, we need to remind our customers about the various points that make our hotel properties different. This talk also tied back nicely to the presentation yesterday by keynote speaker Jeremy Gutsche: We not only need to know our company but pick out what truly makes us unique and how we can appeal to different audiences. If we do all of that, we can capitalize on each of those market sets. Some might say that as OTAs have adapted to create their own rewards programs, brand reward programs have lost value with our loyalty members. By knowing our consumer we also need to know what they are looking for when they stay at our hotel, and maybe there is something more we can do to push our value but also without adding cost, that can be a challenge, but that is the direction our industry is moving to.
Tech Talks continue through the end of our HITEC 2015 conference. I hope to run into you at the next discussion!
Emily Larimore is an account manager at Standing Dog Interactive, a full-service digital marketing agency specializing in the hospitality industry. Larimore works to create customized, holistic digital strategies that inspire trust, instill confidence and exceed online business objectives. Larimore recently joined HFTP where her father has been a member since 1989 and has inspired her to get involved in the premier global professional association. In 2015, she received her Certified Hospitality Digital Marketing certification though HSMAI.