The 2016 Multi-Unit Restaurant Technology Conference (MURTEC®) produced by Hospitality Technology saw record attendance last week as more than 800 restaurant technology executives and solution providers came together for what has become the “Gold Standard” event for education and networking in the foodservice technology industry.
Held March 15 – 17, 2016 at the Paris Las Vegas, the event included MURTEC University’s series of small sessions (expanded for more capacity in 2016), the annual MURTEC golf outing, a diverse range of general and breakout sessions, and two stellar keynote speakers: Jeremiah Owyang, founder of Crowd Companies, and Dr. Bryan K. Williams, Chief Service Officer, B. Williams Enterprise.
“This year we set a big objective to expand MURTEC on all fronts – to deliver a fantastic experience to even more attendees, to showcase more technology exhibits, to offer high-caliber education, and generate overall enthusiasm for restaurant technology,” said Lenore O’Meara, publisher of Hospitality Technology. “At the same time, we prioritize the intimacy that makes MURTEC so valuable with ample opportunities for one-on-one networking. The golf event, lunch group discussions, workshops, and MURTEC University sessions are all part of what makes networking so accessible.”
In its biggest year yet, exhibits in the main hall and new vendor showcase demonstrated solutions from 80 technology suppliers. “I like the variety of vendors at MURTEC,” said Shaun Moylan, director of IT at Sammy’s Grill and a 2016 attendee. “There are a lot of different options. If you are going to do one event, this is the one to do.”
Elsewhere, Sammy Nagem, founding owner of Sammy’s Grill, credits MURTEC University with helping them identify WiFi as a top priority, and find a possible partner on the exhibit floor. “We just went and talked to Aerohive because we have problems with our Internet and WiFi network. We are looking for some better ways to take care of that. We weren’t planning on it, but after listening to one of the workshops, my interest was piqued.”
MURTEC included several stand-out educational sessions. For the first time, an Audience Choice Vendor Insight Panel featured live voting from MURTEC attendees to fill the panel seats with sponsors. HT revealed findings from its 2016 Restaurant Technology Study. Millennial-aged consumers talked about their preferences for technology in a focus group panel. A line-up of executives were each given nine minutes to share a success story in the fast-paced “Nine-Minute Wins” session. One of the nation’s top cybercrime attorneys educated technology leaders on how to become compromise ready. “Of all the companies investigated by our forensics team following an incident, zero were PCI compliant,” said Craig Hoffman, partner at Baker & Hostetler LLP, to the packed general session room.
To fill the seats on the Audience Choice Vendor Insight Panel, MURTEC restaurant attendees were provided with access to a live online poll via the conference mobile app, where they voted throughout the conference for the companies they most wanted to hear from. The top four were invited to join a panel moderated by HT’s editor-in-chief Abigail Lorden. The selected companies and their panel representatives were: Alan Panek, director of account management, MIRUS Restaurant Solutions; Wade Gallagher, managing director, sales, North America, NCR Corporation; Ken Peters, VP Global Hospitality Solutions, Trustwave; and Raymond Howard, co-founder & chief sales & marketing officer, Ziosk.
Among the many findings Lorden shared from the 2016 Restaurant Technology Study,included a unique set of data that shows how innovative firms do things differently: they have larger technology budgets; they spend less on system maintenance; and perhaps most importantly, they have a CIO. “The fact that 68% of innovative restaurants have a CIO, while 62% of laggard restaurants do not, is a correlation that cannot be ignored,” said Lorden. “You might be tempted to ask which came first – the innovation or the leader – but I ask this: does it matter? One clearly begets the other.” Lorden co-presented the findings of the study with Gaurav Pant of EKN Research, the technology research arm of parent company Stagnito + Edgell.
HT also announced its plans to recognize “Top Women in Foodservice Technology” with an annual program that will seek nominations from both the restaurant technology community and the suppliers that serve them. “As an all-female team at HT¸ this is a topic that is particularly near and dear to us,” Lorden said in her editorial comments. “We as an industry must do more to recognize the female thought leaders and the rising stars.” Nominations will open later this year, and the winners will be showcased on the cover of HT. The program will include a celebratory event at MURTEC 2017. HT’s O’Meara said that positive feedback on the program has already been pouring in.
“The energy and enthusiasm at MURTEC this year was outstanding,” Lorden continued. “In all corners of a packed convention space, each person was learning, laughing and making important connections. We’ve all been bit by the bug and are officially MURTECers.”
For a full recap of the conference, including guest columns from some of this year’s stand-out speakers and more insight from the Restaurant Technology Study, be sure to watch for the “2016 MURTEC in Review” special report, which will publish in May.
Stay tuned for details on MURTEC 2017!