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Opportunities for Innovation: HITEC 2017

Opportunities for Innovation: HITEC 2017

Enthusiasm was high at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre this year for the 45th Annual HITEC show. More than 6,500 attendees from more than 65 countries enjoyed educational sessions, keynote speeches, and visited top hospitality technology companies at the event. With more than 360 vendors toting their latest and greatest, it was a perfect opportunity for hoteliers to learn about the technologies that would be changing the face of hospitality over the upcoming years.

Some of the major trends that emerged this week included actionable data, beacon technology, casting, robotics, and the integration of major hotel softwares such as PMS, RMS, and POS systems into one, easy to manage dashboard—all technologies poised to move the hotel industry into the future. However, many of the technology experts attending the show noted that despite the huge technological leaps and bounds the industry has made over the past few years have been slow to enter properties.

So why is hospitality slow to adopt new and exciting technology? Many of the experts that LODGING spoke to over the course of the show weighed in.

According to Dale Moseke, senior account manager for cloud-based PMS company SkyTouch, part of the issue is related to the fact that a lot of technology is based on old, legacy technology. “The industry has been traditionally slow to move, which makes it progressively more difficult to implement new technology when it comes out,” he says. However, Moseke does note that certain technologies have piqued the interest of the hospitality industry at large. For example, voice solutions based on devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home. “I think this is one technology that the hotel industry is trying to be innovative and get out ahead of, but these technologies are much more suited for home use than hotels. I’m not sure the commercial solution is ready quite yet, but I have no doubt it will come.”

For Shawn Barber, CEO of hotel analytics company Broadvine, the dearth of cutting-edge technology is a huge opportunity in the hospitality space, not just for companies like his own, but also for hoteliers looking to improve their operations and profitability. “The hospitality industry is largely untapped by technology right now,” he explains. “It’s an industry that’s just not served as well as some other segments are by technology, and so you see opportunities for innovation as it relates to making a product or software more usable.” By filling in these gaps, Broadvine and other technology companies like it are able to help hoteliers make sense of the data they already have and bring the entire industry to the next technological level.

And a lot of technology has already started to find its way into the hospitality industry. For example, when looking to create a seamless, customized connected experience for guests, a lot of the components are already in place, but the overall experience is still pretty fragmented. A lot of these technologies don’t talk to each other the way they should, which causes gaps in service for the guests. According to Peri Pierone, CEO of Eleven, a company that offers a centralized platform for managing guest-based online services, new technologies are coming in to connect those dots. “There are companies out there, and we work with some of them, actively working toward enabling a frictionless experience. That’s key. We’re not there yet, but we’re working towards it.”

Pierone’s attitude is one that was encountered over and over at HITEC 2017. The industry isn’t there yet, but there are so many options for innovation. The next few years should be an exciting time for hotel technology.

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