Themed "Dining Goes Digital," MURTEC 2016 was held March 15-17 at Paris Las Vegas and saw record attendance of more than 800 executives from restaurants and technology firms. The agenda brought to light many of the top issues facing the digitization of the restaurant experience: mobile POS, millennial-aged customers, payment security challenges, changing service expectations, gamification and more. The conference featured a multitude of speakers who offered insightful commentary on topics that attendees cared most about.
The event began with opening keynote speaker Jeremiah Owyang, founder of Crowd Companies, discussing how the sharing marketplace will likely evolve into a full-fledged autonomous world. According to Owyang, in the Collaborative Economy people access what they need from each other, rather than buying products for ownership. Autonomous technologies like self-driving cars or drones will extend the access model eventually leading to the "Autonomous World" where machines replace humans to deliver even great conveniences and efficiencies. The Collaborative Economy lays the necessary foundation for the Autonomous World to thrive. What does this mean for the hospitality industry? Operators must be willing to adapt to the inevitable transformation of societal behaviors and expectations soon to come. Read more about this here.
Later on in the event, Dr. Bryan K. Williams, chief service officer for B. Williams Enterprise, reminded attendees about the central role of service in an industry that is increasingly reliant on technology. He told attendees that there are four keys to take service from "great" to "world-class." First, he encouraged attendees to "leave a mark" on their team that demonstrates how they've made it better. For instance, helping to create standards, improve processes, or recruiting new team members. Second, don't accept mediocrity. World-class team leaders unapologetically set high standards and expect their teams to succeed. They don't lower their standards for any reason. Third, understand that your role as a team leader is to consistently model and celebrate the service you expect to see; refuse to tolerate anything less. Fourth, "sign your work." Leaders need to put their own unique, distinguishing stamp on the way they do things.
MURTEC University's series of small sessions were expanded for more capacity in 2016 and included sessions on Strategic Vendor Selection, the 2016 Restaurant Technology Study, Designing a Rock Solid Infrastructure and others. In the Strategic Vendor Selection session, two consultants — Allen Eskelin, CEO of Retail Systems, Peak Portfolio and Brian Christenson, Director of Retail Systems, Peak Portfolio — offered high-level tips for fail-proofing the vendor selection process. During the planning phase, operators must use an RFI to screen vendors based on a set of minimum criteria, then use an RFP to narrow the list of vendors to the top three or four vendors. Those three or four vendors could then prepare onsite demonstrations, customer conference calls, etc. When it comes time to make a decision, survey the decision makers and ask them to rate the vendors on a variety of pros/cons. Once a vendor has been selected, negotiations can begin. Always keep at least three vendors in the running until a deal is signed. Negotiate pricing first, then business terms, then contract terms.
Additionally, one of the nation's top cybercrime attorneys talked about how to become compromise ready and millennial-aged consumers talked about their preferences for technology in a focus group panel. To close the program, MURTEC offered its first-ever Audience Choice Vendor Insight Panel. Panel seats were filled based on the results of live voting from MURTEC restaurant attendees via the conference mobile app. MIRUS Restaurant Solutions, NCR Corp., Trustwave and Ziosk had the most votes and discussed in depth the role of integration via open APIs.
After the event, Hospitality Technology asked attendees what they learned from MURTEC 2016. Here is what they had to say:
"My key takeaway from MURTEC is the reality of what is happening in our industry right now. I got a great deal from the sessions on EMV, mobility, potential data breaches. I found the variety of topics such as the millennial session and tech innovations valuable — great 'think tank' material." – Rocky Lucia, director of IT, Fireman Hospitality Group
"The session on actionable gamification by You-ki Chou was inspiring and the conference was worth it for that alone!" – Jim Dolan, program manager, Wright & Bell
"Great information came from the 'Anatomy of a Data Breach' session with Craig Hoffman. It was a fantastic opportunity to hear real-life experiences from something that hopefully never happens to any of us. It was incredibly valuable." – Steve Fisher, director IT, Doro