HITEC 2012 is over. We’ve all gone home. E-mail inboxes have been emptied and the seemingly never ending list of to do’s whittled down to something a bit more manageable. It’s time for the Wrap Up Show … Hello, Hello.
On day one, I was privileged to be in the first press gaggle to walk through GUESTROOM 20X. That first meeting ended right about the time the show floor opened, and as I walked from the back of the show floor towards the main entrance, I expected to be deluged by a horde of people sweeping down the aisles at me like a tidal wave. They weren’t there. I got worried … especially after the last couple of soft years.
Then I talked to vendors.
At first, they were worried too… right up until the people who did the attending started to talk. Universally, vendors told me that this year it wasn’t minions that showed up, but rather the decision makers. And they came to buy, with budgets, projects, and ideas about what they needed and wanted to see.
Talk about first impressions being wrong!
When the final figures were tallied, it turns out that attendance was pretty darn good; the count I heard was 5,200 hundred or so. That bodes well for the health and welfare of both our show and of our industry.
The Democratization of Capability
I expected a lot of mobile; I got some of that.
I expected to see some cloud; I got a little of that.
What I didn’t expect to see, but which blew me away was the democratization of capability. Vendors big and small actively seeking to put control and capability into the hands of users.
For those of you who’ve been around the block in hospitality for a few years, you know that this is not “the way!”
Micros is building cloud solutions for end-users to build out their own rich commerce capability. Infor is enabling users to easily harness and manage historically walled data. Meridian and their partner Cisco are putting location aware and location based content management into the hands of users.
There is a revolution coming.
Vendors everywhere are enabling owners and managers in ways heretofore reserved for “experts” and “professionals.”
And … just saying … it’s wonderful.
What I Didn’t See
One of the things I was hoping to see, but didn’t was movement in the area of leading to discovery of new destinations. I know of a few attempts to harness social to lead to discovery of your property, but either I missed them or they weren’t in the house this year.
Discovery and making destinations discoverable remains one of the true untapped fields in our industry, and the folks who crack the nut are going to be happy campers indeed.
Customers want more self-service, more choice and all around more control of their experiences. In order to remain viable in the coming years, vendors will have to cede control of function and data, not necessarily to the traditional user base or to competing vendors, but to customers. This might even give rise to an en, Cotirely new class of system, a sort of aggregator of customer capability, to bring together the services that customers will demand.
Picking the Winners (and the Losers)
I can’t claim credit for this one. Rich Siegel and John Inge talked about it in their recent video wrap-up of HITEC. What caught me squarely on the forehead is Mr. Inge’s assertion that customers will be picking the winners and losers in the coming years. I suppose it should be obvious (but wasn’t to me … sigh) that with convergence and customer empowerment comes the inevitable conclusion that vendor selection will, to a large measure, be in the hands of those who use the technology, our customers! I think this is a big shift, and vendors who don’t see it and get on board soon will be left behind.
So How Does it End?
All in all, I, and those I spoke with thought this was a darn fine HITEC.
The organizers did a good job … well … organizing. I didn’t see any bottlenecks, except at the pathetically understaffed Starbuck’s by registration.
The vendors brought their “A” game. Most brought new products and services to show that were really “new” products and services.
The people came to catch-up, to network, to chat, to party. They came to buy.
The weather cooperated … enough said on that.
The Wire not withstanding, Baltimore’s reputation survived yet again.
It was good.
I’ll see you next year.
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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