A major hotel technology trade show in North America appeared to get sudden competition on Thursday thanks to a new conference backed by a major U.S. hotel lobby.
For five decades, hotel tech professionals have run HITEC, the Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition and Conference. But on Thursday, American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) and Questex, an events operator and publisher, said they had partnered to create The Hospitality Show at The Venetian Las Vegas.
The new event will take place from June 27 to 29. The dates overlap with HITEC’s dates of June 26 to 29.
The announcement came after news in May that AHLA had made an unsolicited merger offer to the trade group Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP) — which produces HITEC. The tech professionals group rejected the offer, as Skift noted.
Since then, AHLA has partnered with Questex to create a new event.
“This new technology and operations conference and trade show will be U.S.-based and bring together our industry’s top executives and thought leaders,” an AHLA spokesperson said.
Next year’s HITEC will take place in Toronto, as it did in 2017, but all other past North American HITECs have been held in the U.S.
Frank Wolfe, CEO of HFTP and leader of the trade show since 1994, said he had no comment at this time.
UPDATE: August 1. Wolfe has released a statement:
“HFTP wishes AHLA and their for-profit partner the best of luck in the new endeavor,” said Frank Wolfe, CAE, CEO of HFTP. “Competition always makes everyone in the comp set raise the bar a bit and HITEC has had plenty of competition over the years.”
“The unfortunate issue for the industry is that the impact on the suppliers and HITEC allies such as AAHOA, CHTA, HSMAI and IHITA was not taken into consideration before duplicating the HITEC dates, published well in advance,” Wolfe said. “Decisions like this really create a hardship for the industry, especially the suppliers without whom we would not survive.”
“The real losers will end up being the exhibitors,” said Jason Freed in a post on LinkedIn. “Now tech suppliers can’t be at both shows, and each show will have less traffic because attendees were forced to choose…. There’s definitely room for another hotel tech show, but holding it on the exact same days as HITEC is not going to get you off on the right foot.”
The creators of the new Hospitality Show had a different view.
“The date overlap was not meant in any sense as a competitive maneuver,” said Alexi Khajavi, president, hospitality and travel at Questex.
Questex’s market research had identified mid-year as an effective time on the calendar to hold an event of this kind before hotels do third-quarter budgeting. But venue availability during the midpoint of the calendar was a challenge, Khajavi said.
The Hospitality Show isn’t intended to be a HITEC clone.
“There is a big enough difference between what we’re doing and what they’re doing that we see the opportunity for both events, frankly, to coexist,” Khajavi said.
“Tech is only one part of this,” Khajavi said. “It’s going to cover food and beverage, revenue management, housekeeping, legal, and labor, just to name a few. HITEC typically draws your CTOs, CIOs, and revenue managers, but not owner-operators. You rarely see anyone as senior a level as a VP of operations.”
In other words, The Hospitality Show aims to have a broader scope.
“Hotels operations are becoming more and more complex, and owners need to take a cross-disciplinary approach to identify the issues and solutions that drive optimization, and ultimately profitability back to those owners,” Khajavi said. “When we looked out at the landscape of all of the industry events, there really wasn’t one event that brought together teams across disciplines, along with senior leadership, to address those issues.”
For some, the overall discussion about HITEC and the new Hospitality Show seemed like a tempest in a teapot.
“True, this was a bad week for the U.S. hospitality industry,” said Guilain Denisselle, who runs the French trade news site Tendance Hotellerie and has been a long-time attendee of HITEC. “But in the rest of the world, it means nothing to most of the hotel community.”
CORRECTION: HITEC has been held for 50 years, not 30. Post has been updated.