Straight from WWDC, I flew on to Austin for HITEC, the world’s biggest hospitality technology show, where iRiS has been exhibiting for the past few years. This was my second, but also last show for the company, since after 3,5 years I’m moving on to new horizons in August - more on that soon.
But before that, we still had a lot of new product to show and for that reason, the weeks before the show were very intense as always, although this year a lot of the burden was with the great teams I work with.
We had a team of 15 people I think, who stayed scattered across 3 houses in the city - much nicer than hotels. Sunday and Monday were largely spent preparing our stand and making final fixes and tweaks to the applications to get ready for the show on Tuesday.
As always, what we wanted to showcase was on the cutting edge of hospitality technology, and it took until the last minute to get everything perfectly polished and working - a big compliment goes out to my dedicated team for their effort. The highlights of our demos included Mobile Check In, Mobile Door Key, a new Windows based Lobby solution, a redesigned Brand Application and a new responsive Web Guest Service product, all with a number of integrations to third party systems such as the PMS, POS and Room Controls.
In the end, all worked pretty much flawlessly and made for a very impressed hospitality crowd, judging from the feedback I was able to gather. It also felt like we hit some of the general trends at the show - using your phone to check in and as the door key to bypass the Front Desk completely was something that everyone was after. Our excellent position in the space was also evident by the numerous partnerships with large technology companies such as Microsoft, Samsung and Oracle, all of which had iRiS products integrated to their solutions to showcase.
We also managed to explore the city of Austin a bit, parts of which actually seem quite pleasant. Granted, you get the impression you are in a place with a strong and distinct culture to say the least, but that's always part of the enjoyment of seeing new cities.
HITEC days always end with numerous dinners and parties in the evenings. While we attended the big ones such as the Samsung and Newmarket events, the local bar scene also provided some great alternatives. We were (or maybe I was) particularly lucky with the live music at two of the places we went to - that made the evenings were the rest of the people enjoyed a drink or two or three very enjoyable for me as well, not to mention that it was the last time I got to see some of my colleagues (at least they might not be "colleagues" any more next time) and of course also a few people from other companies, it's a small industry after all.
Everything was over on Friday and I left Austin at 10am in the morning, to arrive back in Dubai on Saturday evening at 8pm - a long journey indeed, but those two weeks were definitely worth the travel time.