Guess What’s Happening at HITEC – Themes Abound

We are in the midst of HITEC, its educational sessions and all its glory. This year’s vibe is as invigorating as ever, and the event is bringing multiple themes to life. One of the most dominant of these is “digital transformation.” This topic is permeating many of the educational sessions and even the conversations in the aisles of the HITEC Exhibit Hall. All in all, HITEC’s schedule contains six sessions that infused the theme into the diverse set of topics covering many functional areas for hotels and clubs.

The Monday schedule introduced four sessions infused with the theme, including “The First-mover Advantage: Are You the Leading Edge or the Bleeding Edge”, “Food for Thought: Emerging Technology in F&B”, “What is the Digital Hotel and Are They Hiring,” and the opening keynote itself – “Digital Transformation: Design Your Future”, an enlightening speech from Erik Qualman. I’m still trying to hold my book differently to reach those blazing reading speeds.

Then, there is the exhibit floor where hundreds of innovative vendors are introducing us to today’s solutions and platforms that will make the digital transformation possible across the industry. This year’s exhibitors include 250 or more companies displaying a wide array of products including more than 20 PMS, 20 POS, 10 accounting, 10 telephony and five internet booking engine systems that underpin today’s digital transformation initiatives.

All of this information gives us an important perspective with regard to the vendors. However, the other angle that is valuable to consider is that of the hotels and clubs. I browsed my sources and found a selection of data that was analysis-worthy for hotel companies. Each company within the sample has started, and in many situations completed, one or more waves of digital transformation within their respective companies. As expected, each has taken a slightly different path toward making modifications to their business as part of their transformation efforts.

When studying a sample of chains and brands from the hotel market, I found the following allocation of projects that are usually considered transformative by today’s standards. Normalizing and categorizing this project data resulted in the following frequencies by initiative type during the most recent two years:

Initiative TypeFrequency
Guest Facing36.5%
Core Systems23.8%
Employee Facing  7.9%

The areas of focus were not a surprise to any of us ingrained in the industry given the realities of today’s market, with one exception. The data may lead many to believe that employees were not important during the pandemic from an IT perspective. However, it is imperative to note that many of the guest-facing, core system and infrastructure projects specifically benefited employees by providing them better solutions to perform their day-to-day tasks.

Clubs have faced a different set of market characteristics. While variations existed by location, season and other factors, many portions of the golf industry saw an uptick in people playing the sport. However, they too needed to find mitigation solutions to hold the pandemic at bay for the safety of both members and the public. The project data was not sample worthy, but we could surmise that guest-facing initiatives were certainly at the head of the class from a priority perspective.

And the digital transformation discussion does not stop here. You may continue probing into the topic at more HITEC sessions on Thursday. And for those not here, get a taste at the HITEC Encore Session scheduled for HFTP’s Virtual Education program: “The What, Why and How of Digital Transformation,” playing on November 2 at 12:00 p.m. ET – available for free.

Learn more about HFTP’s virtual education initiative following HITEC.

Tim Henthorn is CEO of Capsolve, a product innovator and strategic leader in marketing, software, technology and analytics. He is also 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 Tim’s experiences at HITEC this year.

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