Cruising Through HITEC 2013

I attended this year’s HITEC trade show in Minneapolis on June 26 expecting, or at least hoping, to see a breakthrough insofar as technology that I could present to my readers — something that would trigger a stampede for your IT department or a call to your owners for more capital infusion. Alas, this was not the case. The 2013 HITEC symposium, excellent in most every way, delivered no knockout blows. But, in it’s own way, the growing number of vendors participating was signs for excitement, as it reflects a definite resurgence for our industry.

There were well over 200 exhibitors on the show floor, a significant increase over previous years. Many of the exhibitors such as LG and DirectTV demonstrated their products with elaborate, Las Vegas-COMDEX-style booths. All of the major suppliers for online systems and technology interfaces were well represented. In addition, many vendors selling ‘back of house’ hardware components had dazzling arrays of ‘boxes and wires’, whose use was far more complex than I could have imagined before arrival.

Here’s an observation. All properties have a PMS, a program that is typically not easy to replace. Yet, this does not seem to hinder the development of new PMS iterations, with their producers eager to claim multiple benefits delivered at even better prices than the programs they would seek to replace. I simply do not see many of these latest systems catching on given how crowded the market already is and hard it is to change to a new PMS.

Another thought. It seemed as if everyone had a mobile solution or extension. Tablets were everywhere and treated with zero reverence, as if they were so commonplace that everyone had them or had to have them. If tablets are now a definitive mainstream accessory, where does that leave those who have caught the fever yet?

Refreshingly, many vendors were showing huge bandwidth distributors as I suspect they are anticipating substantial expansion in the realm of free WiFi. This complemented the wireless devices and apps being promoted. In actuality, without a behemoth load of WiFi, the conference would cease to function. All of this software and hardware when slammed together in a single room, frankly, became a blur of features, benefits, downloads and catchy names. It’s time to rethink how you plan to market your product if you plan to stand out from the herd.

As I look at all of the literature spread over my desk, the golden rule of technology crystallizes in my mind. By the time you buy something, there is probably a better solution just around the corner. Moore’s Law or forced obsolescence; whatever business term you employ to inscribe this rampant progression, it will surely do you justice to ardently follow the trades and keep up-to-date with all this hoopla. Onsite and virtual technological improvements are a necessity, but you should nonetheless proceed with caution.

(Article published by Larry Mogelonsky in eHotelier on July 2, 2013)

Larry MogelonskyCruising Through HITEC 2013