Crafted for professionals in hospitality operations, the HOTEC Operations conference connects decision-makers from hotels, cruise lines, management companies, purchasing firms and more with suppliers. This year’s conference, which took place June 2-5 at the Eau Palm Beach in Florida, offered buyers and suppliers an abundance of opportunities to learn new things that they can take back to their business operations in order to help them do their jobs better.
First, attendees appreciated the approachability of the conference’s setup. Justin Meffe, VP of operations at Monte Carlo Hotel Motel International, said that time is always limited at events and he appreciated the one-on-one approach.
“I had previously been to numerous hotel conferences where you walk around and are sometimes apprehensive to approach a supplier as you are on a limited time schedule and are not certain if the supplier in question is a good fit for your company,” he said. “The one-on-one approach allowed me to delve further into some of the products and services.”
John Siefert, group president of travel and hospitality at Questex, said that these 20-minute, scheduled one-on-one meetings discussions represented the most important 20 minutes of 2019 for at least one supplier’s business.
“Putting that into context, he mentioned that three of the meetings he and his business partner had turned into [requests for proposals] that would more than make up for the investment they made to be here,” Siefert said, noting that buyers also were impressed at how prepared suppliers were for their meetings.
“The word ‘refreshing’ was used multiple times as he explained how the sessions were not ‘vanilla pitches’ but were oriented as solutions to the needs of his Northeast hotels,” Siefert added.
Supplier John Smallwood, CEO of Travel Outlook, agreed that the scheduled-meeting approach made a lot of sense for all attendees.
“It allows a supplier to make a focused, informative presentation to a target client, and it allows the client to respond in a clear and enlightening way,” he said. “I learned that this is the only way to do business.”
Capitalizing on Information
Gina McKee, VP of franchise development for WaterWalk, said she, too, experienced great meetings with potential suppliers and added that her company would have opportunities to work with some of those connections she made.
What’s more, she said she learned some valuable insight during the event. “Meeting with the technology analytics vendors showed me ways in which our company may be able to cut down on cost and provide our hotels with more details financial analytics going forward,” she said.
Alkesh Patel, chairman and CEO of Evergreen Hospitality Development Group, appreciated the meetings as a way to control costs at his company, allowing him to directly negotiate contracts.
“Our procurement team will be able to make sure that we are getting the best prices for the quantity purchased from approved vendors because the product pricing is already negotiated directly to avoid unreasonable markups and having this relationship also avoids delays in receiving the products,” Patel said.
The event’s suppliers also left with new insights to take back to their teams. For instance, Timothy Voit, chief marketing officer for Thomaston Mills, said he learned what customers thought of the competition’s products.
“I learned there was a lot of dissatisfaction with many of our competitors’ products, both on the economy end of the market and on the boutique end of the market,” he said. “We will be aggressively pushing campaigns to capitalize on that information.”
Next year’s HOTEC Operations event will be held June 14-17 at the Ritz-Carlton South Beach in Miami. For more information or to sign up, visit the HOTEC website.