Mike Ryan: The Hotel Technology Forum was one of the first events I attended when I entered the lodging space. The HTF team has always put on a great conference with excellent educational opportunities in a much more intimate setting than other conferences. Similarly, HTNG has always done a fantastic job with its conferences providing incredible opportunities for peer-to-peer collaboration. Last month the two organizations came together for the first time in Orlando for HT-NEXT.
Although I am a big fan of HTNG and Mike Blake’s leadership in particular, I was worried that we might lose some of what HTF had always been. I was wrong… the show was a huge success and we couldn’t have asked for more from a vendor perspective. While attendance was up, the intimacy remained and attendees continue to be top IT leadership in the industry. We were able to connect with a ton of existing clients and soon-to-be clients and had extremely productive discussions. I didn’t attend as many of the break outs as I would have liked this year but those that I did were impressive. I have asked Christian to comment on those aspects.
Christian McMahon: Being a member of the Secure Payments Workgroup, I was very pleased to see a record number of people who attended our breakout session. The attendance was so large we needed to split up into two separate groups. Lots of visibility from folks that expressed interest in providing input and having additional people join the group.
Some of the sessions of note that I was most interested in were:
1. Talking about Payments with the People Who Know: This session was just great. Getting information from the PCI Council itself was invaluable and John Bell’s session on firewalls was brilliant. It was very educational and was conveyed in a way that all levels of technical and industry knowledge could appreciate.
2. Getting Smart about PII: PII is a growing area of both development and concern. Companies across the board are collecting more data than ever about their guests or customers, and hotels are no exception – in fact, hotels have been doing this for years. However, the concerns over the potential misuse of PII data is driving new regulation, process improvements, and technology solutions.
3. Optimizing the In-Room Experience Through the TV: Lenny Jachimowicz from Marriott International led a very interesting session regarding where relationship with the in-room television is and where it will be going. What was most interesting and surprising to me was how the TV will interact more with guest’s personal devices as well as perform new functions, including payments!
4. Hotels & EMV: Falling Asleep at the Wheel: Jeff Parker of RLHC spoke about the slow pace of EMV rollouts at hotels. Much of session addressed both why it’s difficult to deploy – from PMS readiness, to technological deployment challenges, to equipment and feature availability, and why EMV by itself is not enough when it comes to security.
Thank you once again Abby Lorden and Mike Blake for a great opportunity. Can’t wait for next year! If you missed it this year be sure to check in at http://hospitalitytechnology.edgl.com/events and http://www.HTNG.org so you don’t miss next year.
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