Day 1 Highlights from HX: The Hotel Experience 2018
(Photo: The Hcareers Team at HX: The Hotel Experience. Left to right: Brigitte Danis, Heather Tufts, and Geoff Kershaw)
Thousands of hospitality industry professionals, job seekers and students descended upon New York City’s Javits Center last weekend for the annual conference HX: The Hotel Experience (Nov. 11-12). The throngs of conference goers are in line with years past, however, this year’s event was all about the hospitality industry’s next evolution. More than 80 educational sessions, spread between both days, touch on varying themes of this year's theme: “Reimagining Hospitality."
Here's a round-up of some of the most important takeaways from Day 1:
- Technology was a common theme in several sessions. MGM Resorts International’s Chief Sales Officer Michael Dominguez and CEO and Co-Founder of Kalibri Labs Cindy Estis Green both commented on the topic, with Dominguez pointing out “the purpose of technology is to make sure the human capital that I’m deploying is making the guest experience even better.”
- Beyond the guest experience, more advanced technology will define the next iteration of HCareers’ website. Speaking on the panel of “Redefining Today’s Hospitality Workforce and Cultivating Tomorrow’s Team,” Hcareers CEO Ron Mitchell said that hiring and recruitment in the hospitality needs to be about more than just facilitating "transactions" between job seekers and employers. Instead, he said, “It has to focus on the candidate experience and we have to help in the journey from what opportunities are available to where to go to get those opportunities and that’s critical to any organization that wants to nurture a relationship with job candidates."
- A glimpse of what’s to come for “HCareers 2.0” was provided by the company’s Marketing Director Aminah Khan in the session “Building Your Hospitality Career Roadmap for the Future.” Job candidates and employers will soon find dynamic personal profiles, more robust company and property profiles, an industry leading endorsement and loyalty program, as well as personalized career development roadmaps – among other new enhancements – ahead for 2019.
- Of course, the day’s sessions also covered other topical tech issues for the hospitality industry: what impact Amazon’s Alexa could have on the hotel industry, how emerging technologies like machine learning may or may not alter the travel industry and how new video technology can enable the hotel industry to reach new audiences.
- But if there was a single voice that summarized the importance of the tech revolution on the hospitality industry, it was the DePaul University students who spoke on the panel “Hospitality Insights from Our Future Leaders: The College Student Perspective.” Allegra Ehrfeld worked at a Marriott Autograph Collection property that she deemed particularly high-tech; each room had an Amazon Alexa that served as the hotel concierge and the hotel’s two robots, Cleo and Leo, delivered certain items to guest rooms such as extra towels. The technology and the human-touch aspect of guest service, she described as balanced quite well. “Front of house interaction is still really important because people want to see a smile and their phones can’t smile at them,” she explained.
- There’s also still work to be done as far as how hotels integrates technology into the employee experience. “Technology can make employees’ jobs easier and give them more time to do more things like volunteering, and make people more passionate about their jobs,” added Elizabeth Redhead.