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More and more, hotel customers are demanding their stay and service to be deeply personal. At the same time, hotels are challenged to improve operational efficiencies in a way that reduces costs and look for ways to create new revenue streams. Technology is the key to accomplishing both goals at once, and there’s no better place to see how the industry is digitally transforming than at HITEC, the world’s longest-running and largest hospitality technology exhibition. This year’s event was a standout for transformation.

It was exciting for the Microsoft team to spend time with a mix of hotel business and tech leaders this week who showed off not just the future of hospitality, but also innovative technology that’s already helping hotels solve their biggest challenges today. Microsoft is helping the industry to transform and take their businesses into the digital era through the Internet of Things (IoT) delivering greater operational and guest insights, artificial intelligence (AI) delivering a more personalized experience, and empowering employees with solutions such as StaffHub, an app that makes it easy for hotels to manage shift schedules and share information with their deskless workers. All underpinned by the Microsoft Cloud.

One of the biggest challenges I hear from hotel customers is how to keep a pulse on operations across each of their properties. At HITEC, iReckonU demonstrated its signature hospitality platform, which integrates data from a hotel’s existing legacy systems in one easily accessible dashboard. Hosted on Microsoft Azure, the iReckonU platform includes products for operational data management, guest data management, guest experience and financial management. The platform gives hotel management insight into guest preferences, room and facility status, financial performance, and more, enabling hotel staff to spot issues immediately and take quick action to address them before guests even realize there’s a problem. It also helps management surface trends over time so they can anticipate their customers’ needs.

Hotels are also realizing the increasing importance of giving customers the ability to purchase goods and services at any location on the hotel property—from restaurant tables to meeting rooms to poolside—without waiting in long lines. Innowi demonstrated its flagship product, the ChecOut M, the first all-in-one pocketable point-of-sale (POS) and payment solution. The device, which runs on Windows 10, enables hospitality staff to quickly and easily process sales and payments while on the go and can be paired with a countertop or belt clip printer for instant receipt printing. By moving sales transactions away from the front desk or sales counter, hotels can reduce stressful lines and efficiently service their guests wherever they may be.

The meeting space is another area where properties are looking at how to further enhance the services being offered in a more immersive way. In our booth, Microsoft and Taqtile showcased Microsoft HoloLens and their HoloMaps solution, providing a mixed reality experience on meeting spaces, areas of interest and tours.

Microsoft and its partners are building integrated cloud solutions that are helping hotels improve operations, from busting the lines at the check-in desk, to quickly breaking down and reconfiguring meeting spaces between large conferences, to cutting budget and improving services by modernizing back-end systems.

If you missed us at the show, visit our event page for HITEC highlights, and learn more about Microsoft in hospitality on our Hospitality Industry Solutions webpage.

We want to thank all our partners for making our 2017 HITEC experience such a success!

LinkedIn: Greg Jones

Twitter: @gjonesMSFT