Attending the hotel tech industry’s top trade shows is a must to stay on top of rapid changes in hotel technology. But traveling to all those shows can be tough.
HTNG and Hospitality Technology are fixing that by merging two shows into one mega-event resulting in more content, less travel. HT-NEXT is the blending of HTNG’s North American Conference and HT’s Hotel Technology Forum. Taking place April 10-13 in Orlando, Fla., HT-NEXT will draw from the best of each of the events and add some new features as well.
“I don’t talk to anybody who walks away from these events and doesn’t get something out of them,” says Dayna Kully, co-founder of 5thGenWireless and co-chair of HTNG’s Infrastructure Resource Team. The new event promises even more benefits.
HTF has thrived as a meeting primarily for hoteliers, while HTNG North America has typically drawn both hoteliers and vendor. HT-NEXT takes its cue from both concepts, by allowing broader vendor access on the first two days, but then shifting to a hotelier-focused event. Only sponsoring technology providers will be permitted to stay for the duration. (Limited sponsorships are still available.)
Here’s a breakdown of the agenda and access:
HT-NEXT DAY ONE: Workgroup Day. In workgroups, hoteliers and vendors collaborate on guidelines, standards or outputs that hoteliers can put to practical use. It’s a true collaboration and no selling goes on. “Workgroups are the meat of the organization,” says Kully. “It’s where the work gets done.” Attend one of the six workgroup meetings that day and you’ll see a lot of it. “Progress always happens faster in person than on the phone,” Kully says. Her advice: Feel free to drop in on any workgroup that interests you, but to get the most out of it, read what you can in advance on the HTNG website.
HT-NEXT DAY TWO: Breakouts. Workgroup meetings continue on day two, but that’s also the day for Breakout Sessions, where attendees can go deep in discussions on common industry challenges with experts in the field. There is a lot to choose from, so Monika Nerger, Global CIO, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group and president of HTNG, advises, “Focus your time effectively to meet vendors and partners, and understand new technologies available for your property and how they may help your business.”
The afternoon includes some important keynotes, exhibit floor time, and two award presentations: The Hotel Visionary Awards and the revamped HTNG
TechOvation Award, where ten semi-finalists present their new, innovative solutions in an exciting live show-down.
HT-NEXT DAY THREE and FOUR: General Sessions. Day three is when all vendors except the sponsors take their leave so hoteliers can collaborate in a more intimate setting. The morning is about keynotes and TED Talk-inspired lightning presentations, followed in the afternoon by hotelier-only, closed-door roundtables and the presentation of findings from HT’s 2017 Lodging Technology Study. Keynotes and sessions continue throughout Thursday morning before the conference concludes.
More Reasons HT-NEXT is a Must-Attend
Unparalleled Networking: In between most meetings and sessions throughout the show, there is generous time for networking with other attendees and visiting compelling vendor booths and topic tables. Networking is a huge component of the show — among vendors, hoteliers, and across both groups. “It’s an opportunity to get to know more of your peers in the hospitality community, and to expand your network,” says Nerger.
UCF Innovation Center: HT-NEXT’s Orlando location is ideal for taking a sneak peek at the new Innovation Center taking shape at the Rosen College of Hospitality Management at the University of Central Florida, opening this spring. It will be used as a test lab for vendor-contributed technology and HTNG standards so students can impact new technologies as they take shape.
The speed of change in hotel tech is quickening, and more and more new technologies rely on complex integration of multiple systems and sources. The idea behind HT-NEXT is to concentrate all of the players to learn from one another, exchange ideas and move the industry forward — without adding too much to already hectic schedules. “There are some great synergies,” Nerger says, “and we will only achieve even more as we combine forces.”