In Houston during the third week of June, roughly 7,000 hoteliers braved the sweltering humidity and near-constant downpours to attend the world’s largest hospitality-technology show — HITEC.
As the convention starts to resemble the famed Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in breadth and scope, the good news this year is that software capabilities are becoming near-universal. Integrations are commonplace and vendors have taken on a ‘spirit of partnership’ where they recognize their strengths and know their wares are only one part of a hotel’s technology tool belt. If you didn’t have the opportunity to attend last month, here’s what you missed.
Voice technology is at the forefront. Smart speakers are touted by numerous vendors offering different applications for the Amazon Echo or Google Home systems. Despite the obvious privacy concerns, anticipate further expansion of this technology into the realm of IoT room controls and concierge services.
Property-management systems (PMS) continue to expand in scope and capabilities. The focus now is the allowance of full interconnectivity with specialized applications — rather than pursuing their own internal solutions — so that the hotelier has flexibility regarding what software they deploy and how.
Wireless automation has become mainstream as IoT starts to gain steam. Expect to see the decline of the keycard, replaced with apps that can also heatmap where guests are for property-planning efficiency, as well as offer a host of other integrated services — again through IoT setups.
As LED monitors become more affordable, sharper, larger and brighter, there will be an even broader application of screens, both indoors and outdoors. Digital signage will soon become more elaborate, durable and quite artful in its presentation.
Then there’s blockchain, which still has vast potential for loyalty-program partnerships, as well as reducing the costs associated with transactional data intermediaries. While this is still five years out from a proper rollout, you would be wise to start reading up on how it works now.