Texas Treasures – Welcoming Some Hidden Gems

Written by: Jennifer Jones

I want to thank all of the vendors who have prevailed through the tough times and gathered their teams to travel to Dallas to exhibit and showcase their wares. Although foot traffic may be lighter this year than normal, seeing familiar, friendly faces up and down the aisles of the exhibit hall makes HITEC 2021 more of a reunion than a stuffy corporate event. I hope everyone still had a positive experience and leaves the show with more customers and partnerships for the future.

It’s always tough to be a new entrant into the vendor space at HITEC especially following a strange pandemic year. I applaud those who still worked on cultivating ideas and being innovative these last 15 months. In addition to attending scheduled meetings with vendors I have existing relationships with, I always take time to try and meet some of the newcomers to HITEC, and this year I found two great ideas that I thought I would share. Please find time to stop by their booths and show your support.

Recently while traveling through the Denver airport I was standing at a United Airlines gate and received the dreaded delay announcement. In a flurry, people grabbed their phones or rushed the customer service desk to discuss options for their connections that they may potentially miss. However, I saw one person approach a kiosk standing in the middle of the gate area. I intently watched the traveler talking to a live agent on the screen. It was a genius idea to have agents available to assist distressed passengers at a moment’s notice. While walking the aisles at HITEC I came upon Macrotech who had pivoted on a similar idea by providing live agents for hotel front desks. This first time HITEC exhibitor offers a contactless hotel check-in kiosk in one package. With labor shortages being common today in our industry and also intertwined with guidelines to “keep our distance,” imagine being able to have virtual front desk agents. Hotels will provide access to their cloud-based PMS of their choice and these live agents complete the check-in while communicating on a video call with the guest standing in front of the kiosk. With fluid integrations, a message is sent to the key encoder which creates and dispenses the key out of the kiosk to the guest. A payment device is also present and will prompt the guest to chip their credit card for preauthorization or payment. It’s a great solution for hotels that are having issues getting nighttime staff or who need a little extra help on busy days.

Have you ever received such stellar service from a hotel staff member and to show your gratitude you reach into your wallet only to find that you are cashless? That binge visit to Starbucks took your last $5 bill. Enter “youtip.” Instead of worrying about having spare change on hand, through a simple process of being introduced to a QR code from the staff member, it allows guests to digitally tip and provide a message of gratitude. You may think that this problem has already been solved with apps like Venmo, but technically hotel staff should not be receiving gratuities with a personal Venmo account as it against their terms and conditions. “youtip” can seamlessly connect guest gratuities to a specific staff member and the hotel has options to route the payment to the rewarded staff member such as transferring funds to pay card or integrated into their payroll. As a traveler myself during COVID, I’ve been in these situations a number of times where cash was not being accepted by staff. I think this is an innovative simple solution for a common problem. It will be interesting to see how guests adopt the digital payment trends that continue to become common in our industry.

I hope everyone else has also had some epiphany moments while shopping the aisles at HITEC and took some time to forge new relationships with our newcomers to HITEC! #HITEC #hftp

Jennifer Jones is president of J2 Hospitality Solutions and an official event guest blogger for HITEC Dallas 2021, taking place in-person September 27-30 at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, Texas USA. Continue checking HFTP Connect for more of Jennifer’s experiences at HITEC this year.

Editor’s note: HFTP does not endorse specific HITEC exhibitors. HFTP guest bloggers are event attendees given discretion to share their event observances. 

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