In its second year, Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP®) European HITEC® was held last week where top industry experts exchanged knowledge geared toward shaping the future of hospitality globally. Discussions were held on the hottest topics in the industry – artificial intelligence, voice recognition, data science, robotics, customer journey and the EU GDPR. Over 100 companies displayed the latest in available hospitality technology products available around the globe.
Kicking-off the event was HFTP's Entrepreneur 20X (E20X) where 11 entrepreneurs presented their innovative technology to a panel of expert judges. Startup KITRO was awarded the Judge's Choice grand prize award of €2,500. Following the competition, participants were available to meet with delegates in the Innovation Lab. Delegates had an opportunity to select their favorite innovative technology, which differed from the E20X Judges Award. For the second time, the favorite technology of delegates at a HITEC event went to Arrivedo.
Another highlight of the conference might well have been the largest gathering ever of European hospitality CIO and CFOs. The invitation only event, sponsored by Fourteen IP Communications, provided the c-level audience an opportunity to address current day problems and speculate about the future. The sometimes spirited discussion offered insight into what the near future trends might be, and what the roles of industry professionals will be in the future. The stellar educational program ended with Frits van Paasschen, best-selling author and former CEO of Starwood Hotels and Resorts, providing unique perspective on trends shaping the global economy.
The partner of the conference – the exhibitions – was not as stellar or up to HFTP standards. "Producing hospitality events for more than four decades, and being a nonprofit organization, HFTP sets higher standards regarding the quality and overall experience of our stakeholders than other conferences and exhibitions," said HFTP CEO Frank Wolfe. "We work passionately on behalf of the industry year-round to provide the best possible tools and experiences for all of our participants – including our exhibiting companies. A positive exhibitor experience was not the case at this event."
The first sign of trouble exhibitors experienced was set-up preparations, which overflowed into actual opening exhibit hours. During the event, exhibitors experienced internet problems and the traffic inside the exhibition hall was clearly disappointing.
Although buyers registered for the event, checked in on site and were available on the event app, the numbers inside the exhibitions were not what we expected. So, in recognition of the energy and time HFTP supporters spent preparing for the event, ALL exhibiting companies were offered a partial refund of their stand reservation fees. "HFTP continues to expand and evolve for the industry and its promise is to do our best to make the quality of the experience positive," Wolfe said. "In spite of the troubles, HITEC Amsterdam already has really good support from the exhibitions side and has sold almost 50 percent of the available stands for 2019."
HFTP remaining events for 2018 include HITEC Houston – HFTP's largest event of the year – from June 18-21 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas USA. HFTP Annual Convention will October 24-26 at the Omni Louisville Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky USA. HITEC Dubai will take place December 5-6 at the Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai, UAE. For more information about HFTP's international events, visit www.hftp.org and www.hitec.org or contact the HFTP Meetings & Special Events Department at email@example.com.
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