This year’s HT-NEXT conference took place “online everywhere” on December 1 through 3, and is now streaming on demand for registered attendees at HT-NEXT.com. Over the course of three days packed with networking, workshops, and educational sessions, Hospitality Technology and HTNG partnered to bring hoteliers and solution providers together in a unique, immersive virtual environment: HOTEL NEXT, including a simulated lobby, guestroom, restaurant, back office and much more.
Disney Sets the Stage
Day 1 kicked off with a keynote from Tilak Mandadi, Executive Vice President, Digital, and Chief Technology Officer for Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, sharing Disney’s response to the challenges of the pandemic and its near-future plans for integrating new technologies into its resort and hotel experiences. A “firechat” with Scott Strickland at Wyndham, provided insight into how his wide-ranging brand pivoted to a start-up mentality to meet new challenges. George Roukas of Hudson Crossing and Flo Lugli of Navesink Advisory Group helped to demystify Attribute Based Selling. An interactive workshop for hoteliers and suppliers, “Doing More With Less,” featured insights from Wendy Mertz, VP IT, Non-Gaming Applications at Seminole Gaming and Hard Rock International as well as lively and productive brainstorming in small workshops. We ended Day 1 on a fun note, with attendees mingling, networking, and actually learning to juggle thanks to Las Vegas entertainer Jeff Civillico.
Insights from JetBlue Technology Ventures and More
Day 2 started off with a keynote from Bonny Simi of JetBlue Technology Ventures, touching on how tech start-ups are feeding innovation across the hospitality industry. A “firechat” with John Lilley, CIO at Aspen Ski Company, shared lessons on contactless transactions and emerging from a crisis stronger than before. A research panel delved into HT’s newly released 2020 Customer Engagement Technology Study and what its data means going forward. Hoteliers and suppliers participated in an interactive workshop, “Hotel Tech for 2021 and Beyond,” featuring insights from Dan Kornick, CIO at Loews Hotels and workshop brainstorming on post-pandemic tech investments. Day 2 then closed with the Hotel Visionary Awards and a virtual happy hour.
IT Leadership Panel and a Glimpse at 2021
Day 3 continued to provide a lively blend of insights and provocative discussions with Odia Kagan, Partner and Chair of GDPR Compliance & International Privacy, Fox Rothschild LLP, illuminating the hot, challenging topic of privacy compliance. The annual IT Leadership Panel featured executives from G6 Hospitality, Choice Hotels, and Edwardian Hotels London addressing technology for the “next normal.” Additionally, Jan Freitag, Senior Vice President, Lodging Insights, at STR, examined data and trends from 2020 that point to the future of hospitality.
HT-NEXT also offered a range of on-demand sessions, addressing important topics such as the lessons hotels can learn from restaurants, how hoteliers need to respond to the RAY BAUM’s act regarding 911 call data, success stories from Loews Hotels and Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, and a panel discussion with HTNG’s TechOvation Award winners that reveals what made their unique solutions stand out among competitors.