Interel, Revinate and IDeaS win TechOvation awards at outstanding HTNG Conference

Last weeks’ annual Hotel Technology Next Generation (HTNG) North American conference raised the bar again on what makes for a successful gathering. Already one of the more appealing conferences in a crowded season, a couple of format changes this year increased its attraction and

drew record attendance.

Formally making the interface workgroup sessions part of the conference and adding technical discussion forums during the two days before the more traditional education sessions allowed for much closer interaction between the techies and the more strategically-minded attendees, to everyone’s benefit. This conference has long been known for the quality and wide range of its education sessions, and this year led off with Terry Jones, founder of Travelocity, Kayak and now WayBlazer, discussing how the semantic analysis and sheer power of IBM’s Watson engine has the potential to transform travel search.

Other sessions ranged from building up service levels, through discussing whether CRSs have a future, the impact of mobile payment, the challenges of a chain-wide WiFi upgrade and cogent advice on open-source technologies that allow hotels to compete affordably with the OTAs by offering fast, scalable systems, to a CIO discussion panel and a presentation on robotics in hospitality, including a demonstration of the room service robot currently in beta test at two of Starwood’s Aloft hotels.

The winners of HTNG’s new TechOvation awards were Interel, Revinate and IDeaS. The awards, replacing the previous years’ Innovation awards, recognize both the products’ fresh thinking and their likely impact on the industry. The prior years’ approach of static displays of product information was replaced with a “shark tank”-like scenario where each vendor had five minutes to pitch its product. An initial slate of 18 candidates was narrowed to three finalists by a panel of ten judges (eight of whom were hotel company CIOs), and the winners were selected by a vote of the conference attendees.

Overall winner was Interel for its connectBsmart technology, an intriguing online, beacon-as-infrastructure approach to two-way communications with guests. The First Runner-Up was Revinate’s inGuest, a comprehensive approach to communicating with guests pre-, during and post stay designed to extend hotel services to guests 24/7, drive more touch points with staff and increase revenue.  The Second Runner-Up was IDeaS’ Function Space Revenue Management software.

HTNG’s conference has established itself as one of the must-attend events for anyone involved in hotel technology. Kudos to Doug Rice and his team for continuing to improve it and keep it fresh!

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