After a long 25 months off, The Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition and Conference (HITEC)—the world’s largest and oldest hospitality technology event—was back in action in Dallas as an in-person conference on September 27–30, 2021.
With the return, it was unclear how attendance
would be given that COVID-19 is still a concern around the world. The result saw
more than 4,000 attendees (60%)1 compared to over 6,600 in 2018,2
which was the highest attended conference in HITEC’s history.
Catering to an audience that represents
multiple segments across the hospitality industry, HITEC showcases the
industry’s latest innovations and provides top-notch education for attendees. In
addition to its distinguished keynote sessions, HITEC hosted a program full of
sessions covering trending topics and emerging technologies that have been top
of mind for the industry over the past year, including food and beverage
innovations, cybersecurity risks, ethical conundrums in technology,
hyper-personalization, direct distribution vs. third-parties, digital hotels
Here we’ll explore three of the hottest trends
that were talked about extensively during the event and what they mean for the
future of the hospitality technology industry.
Many conversations at HITEC were centered
around staffing challenges. The hospitality industry has been among those most
negatively impacted by COVID-19—many people lost or left their jobs. It’s
predicted that hotels will end the year down 500,000 jobs based on the
pre-pandemic ratio, and an additional 1.3 million hotel-supported jobs are in
It’s taken over a year to see some recovery,
but it has been slow and difficult. That’s because:
But even with shortages of staff the
hospitality industry is getting creative, looking for ways that technology can
fill the gap. Some solutions being explored include the following:
The term “contactless” evolved tremendously over
the past two years. Prior to COVID-19, when someone mentioned contactless it
was typically about payments such as Apple Pay or Google Pay. Since then,
contactless has expanded its reach and abilities for a superior guest
Today, contactless includes self-service
kiosks and mobile check-in and check-out. Customers can now use chatbots to
receive automated and immediate responses to questions, or rely on texting for
better communications between staff and guests during their stay. Instead of using
a TV remote, guests can use their mobile devices to play the show of their
choice or even stream a workout or game to a larger screen.
One session at HITEC covered “How to Budget
Technology Expenses.” At one point the speaker turned to the audience to ask, “How
many of you are still using an on-premises solution?” About 90% of the room
raised their hands. The main driver for keeping an on-premises solution was to
alleviate concerns over connectivity reliability.
But in most cases, avoiding the transition to
the cloud leaves hospitality organizations missing out. Migration benefits
include more flexibility to support remote staff and greater cybersecurity,
along with increased operational efficiencies and speedier data entry fueled by
cloud-based back-office applications.
These trends and challenges currently facing the hospitality industry require organizations to be constantly evolving—this includes your IT solutions. If you’re unsure of what is needed to stay current—from a networking, security and collaboration perspective—Windstream Enterprise has the expertise and services to guide you. Just reach out, we are happy to help.
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