Finding The Right Solutions – Face to Face
Monday 7th May 2012
Finding The Right Solutions – Face to Face
IHTF offers new opportunities to hoteliers to plot their technology roadmaps - Interview - Natasha Raynor, Forum & Awards Manager
Cleverdis is delighted to be a part of the 9th annual International Hotel Technology Forum (IHTF) 2012, one of the leading face-to-face events for the hotel technology industry. Natasha Raynorrecently took on the role as the new captain at the helm of IHTF. We spoke to her at the event in London, and asked her to present the novelties in 2012 and give us a sneak peak of the next year’s forum.
IHTF is predominately a sales platform. We work with CIOs, IT directors from the global hotel groups. We bring on the technology companies that want to basically sell their and promote their products.
Hoteliers come for the tight program; they come to see what is happening in the industry, the changes to the technologies, the new systems that are coming out. And this year it has been even stronger: 67 hoteliers are attending from 33 different countries. Vendor-wise, you see 52 different technology companies represented within the industry here at IHTF.
What’s new in 2012?
We used to be very much focused In-Room. This year we are getting everybody within the industry who does any kind of technology including software, revenue management and marketing technologies. We are still very much IT but we want to bring on the marketing field and to grow that side as well. Next year I would like to invite 10 to 12 marketing and e-commerce people.
Geographically speaking, there are 7 US companies this year, which is more than before.
Thanks to Ted Horner and Ashley, our program manager, the conference program is really interesting so that the hoteliers want to come and at the same time they want to see what the providers can do for them. Cloud Computing is extremely successful this year, along with PCI Compliance. The Philips CoCreation team will be hosting the workshop on the future of SMART TV. We have people like Elizabeth Randall, Managing Director of STR Global, who presents changes in the hospitality landscape. We’ve never done this before.
Also the Future Tech Arena is new. We have bigger stands and the Future Tech Arena with 12 smaller stands. The idea is that with a 15-minute hotspot our clients can speak shortly and briefly; and really imprint in people’s minds what they do rather than give heavy presentations.
What were the main demands from hoteliers for the speed-dating business meetings?
My main objective is to ensure that these meetings are put together by relevance. So Starwood for example only meets with the technology companies that they have budget for and they are interested in meeting. And that’s how the ROI comes from the event. We are very keen to make sure that the synergy is there before the event so that people don’t waste each other’s time and are satisfied after the meetings.
What are you going to do next year?
IHTF will be from the 17th – 19th of April 2013 and it is our tenth anniversary. We are looking at doing this at a golf resort in Portugal. Normally IHTF starts on a Wednesday evening but we are planning either Tuesday or Wednesday depending on how clients want to be involved and how much time the hoteliers can give us. We want to do a pairing up golf afternoon and then in the evening on the first night we will do our normal icebreaker but on the second night we are going to put on a big Gala Dinner, because 10 years of doing IHTF and making it successful is worth celebrating.
What will be your advice for new participants and sponsors of IHTF?
The earlier you can book the better because IHTF is about marketing at the beginning, it’s about me talking to the hoteliers on what we do. The longer I’ve got to promote your company the most successful IHTF will be for you. So if your budget is in October, let me know in September what you want so I can work with you to get the best package, to plan if you need an exhibition stand as well as a meeting plan.
You are also in charge of The European Hospitality Awards which are on the 2nd November 2012. Could you please present this event to us?
The EH Awards is about recognising and celebrating excellence in hotel development and management. We have categories such as Green Hotel of the Year, New Build of the Year, Refurbishment of the Year, International Hotel of Year, Best Hotel Suite, Interior Design Innovation of the Year, Hotel Technology Innovation of the Year, Hotelier of the Year, Hotel Spa of the Year, Best Hotel Restaurant, Hotel Service of the Year and Lifetime Achievement in the Hotel Community. The judges will be looking for evidence of an individual and innovative approach in all categories.
How does this work exactly? Who are the judges, who can enter the competition and what is the deadline?
I can now reveal the first four judges - Ted Teng, CEO of The Leading Hotels of the World, Harry Handelsman, CEO of Manhattan Loft Corporation, Claus Sendlinger, CEO and President of Design Hotels, Peter Bierwirth, President of EHMA, the European Hotel Managers Association.
Literally we get in contact with new hotels or new facilities within the hotels and invite them to enter the competition, and then the judges choose the best. But anybody can apply. Also the hotel’s solutions providers can enter their hotel clients, the chefs can enter their restaurants etc. Our deadline is for entries is 26th July 2012.
How can the hotel providers participate?
Vendors will sponsor the categories. It’s about branding and getting the company’s name. That’s why the sponsorship is targeted: the catering company sponsors the restaurant, the technology company sponsors the innovation award.