Why HITEC Matters

It's a truism: If you're a technology vendor or buyer, you should attend the Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition & Conference, the annual lodging technology extravaganza mounted by Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals.

Last year, when HFTP staged HITEC in strikingly pleasant Minneapolis, the event drew more than 4,500 registrants, according to HFTP. It's likely that HITEC 2007, set for June 25-28 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL, will draw at least as well.

Not only will Jonathan Tisch, the expressive, articulate chairman and CEO of Loews Hotels, address the conference, there will be concurrent sessions on each of the three key days. In addition, Oliver Nihart-Arango, a systems specialist for Carlson Companies in Minneapolis, will be honored as Certified Hospitality Technology Professional (CHTP) of the year. Nihart-Arango has college degrees in political science, Spanish and network administration, is involved in programs designed to help Mexican children further their education, and has worked as a free-lance translator for the Mexican government.

The concurrent sessions will naturally touch on tech topics, including customer relationship management and its impact on loyalty programs; untangling the welter of distribution channels; and “charm school for geeks,” the art of selling a technology project. And that's just for Tuesday afternoon, June 26. Topics to be covered the following two days include how to blend consumer technology into the guestroom experience; best practices in hospitality business intelligence; and Internet law.

While the sessions are major draws, the key action will be on the showroom floor, where CEOs, CTOs, general managers, IT professionals of both the branded and consultant variety, as well as other representatives of lodging's executive level, will mingle. According to HFTP, the bulk of the technology purchases effected at last year's HITEC involved sums up to $9,999; but it's noteworthy that the next-biggest slice of the piece accrued to purchases of more than $500,000.

When you want a break from networking, stroll to Guestroom 2010, the second edition of what turned out to be a hit at its debut last year. At Guestroom 2010, you'll be able to see (and often interact) with the latest in high-tech hospitality gizmos and amenities. Last year's highlights included the Nethrone, an adjustable chair facing a keyboard and computer monitor; a $20,000 bed of ingenious, beaded construction and a wall-mounted, high-definition TV that could, when turned off, display art.

Visit www.HITEC.org and you'll find a gang of information about the upcoming show, including a listing of many of the vendors who will be attending and exhibiting. There are many new names, as well as companies who have been exhibiting and building their business since the early days, when HITEC pioneer Larry Chervenak set the tone.

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