October 13, 2021

HITEC Dallas 2021: Getting Back to “Normal”

HFTP 2021 Events
Written by Ron Strecker, CHAE, CHTP — Contributor

HITEC 2021 has closed out for the week and for me, being back in person was fantastic! Seeing familiar faces - attendees and our vendor partners - went a long way in making us all feel that a sense of normalcy is returning.

Monday seemed to have more sessions planned than I recall from past events, mainly due to the sessions for the HFTP Annual Convention co-located with HITEC this year. All of the sessions were well attended, even the ones that started at 9:00 a.m. I certainly need to give a call out to Jeff Parker and his presentation on IT budgeting to a standing room-only crowd. Way to go Jeff!

The opening keynote from Erik Qualman at the end of the first day was energetic, insightful and motivating. How many of you sent Erik an email with your one word that you would use to describe yourself? I did. And I was blown away when I received a reply from Erik later that evening. In his reply, he asked about my key takeaways from his address and what rating I would give him. Of course, I rated the address as five stars and shared my favorite moments from his address. Erik responded to my reply as if we had been friends for a long time, which I have never experienced from keynote speakers before. The day finished with an opening reception in true Texas fashion and really set the tone for the rest of the week.

Did you know? You can access recordings of the 2021 HITEC and HFTP Annual Convention Keynotes and General Session, including Erik Qualman's presentation, in a special digital collection available online through October 31, 2021. FREE to registered HITEC and HFTP Annual Convention attendees. Available for purchase to nonregistrants for $199 USD. Learn more on the HITEC website.

Just prior to 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, you could see the anticipation on the faces waiting for the HITEC exhibit floor to open. And while the crowd was smaller than 2019, it certainly felt the same as everyone rushed through when the doors finally opened. There were fist bumps, handshakes and hugs everywhere. Even with a smaller crowd and a few vendors missing due to travel restrictions, the energy on the show floor was obvious. I lost count on how many "new" vendors were exhibiting and was surprised at the number of vendors that had merged under one name since 2019. Most of those mergers made a lot of strategic sense.

For me, the biggest shift on the show floor was moving the vendor tutorials to the front in an open space visible to all walking by. I think the change created an inviting environment for everyone and I hope we continue that approach at future shows.

Hats off to the entire HFTP staff, HITEC Advisory Council, and all the presenters for making this year's HITEC and HFTP Annual Convention a success! You certainly made HITEC 2021 a memorable experience for me. Next year we'll be in Orlando, which has always been a popular location. Hopefully, we will be putting the pandemic further behind us by then. Maybe we'll even see new records in attendance and exhibits.

For those that couldn't make the trip this year you missed a wonderful reunion. Mark your calendars now for next year. HITEC Orlando 2022 will take place June 27-30. It will be an even bigger reunion.

Ron Strecker, CHAE, CHTP is an independent consultant, author, and speaker with over 35 years of senior financial leadership roles. He is also an official event guest blogger for HITEC Dallas 2021, which took place in-person September 27-30 at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, Texas USA.

2021 digital collection education guest blogger HFTP HITEC hospitality networking opening keynote technology