This past week I was back at the Javits Center in NYC for the debut of the newly rebranded HX: The Hotel Experience, which took place November 8th-10th. Formerly known as the International Hotel, Motel + Restaurant Show® (IHMRS), HX: The Hotel Experience, produced by Hospitality Media Group and owned by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA), the Hotel Association of New York City, Inc. (HANYC), and the New York State Hospitality & Tourism Association (NYSH&TA), is well known as the largest hospitality show in North America.
The show’s producers were clearly looking for a refresh, and that’s exactly what they achieved with the help of Minding Your Business, the agency that was hired to redesign and rebrand the show. From the wide aisles and thoughtful layout, including various stages and pavilions located throughout the show floor, the space lent itself to a comfortable tour of the proceedings. Amenities such as the centrally located HX:Connect lounge, as well as well-placed water coolers and charging stations created a relaxed and friendly environment.
Most striking was the incorporation of live presentations and panel discussions into the show floor itself. With the exception of one outside room hosting HX:InSession, a series of informative panel discussions and presentations on Sunday and Monday, the producers placed the majority of their live events in HX:Onstage, two main stages on either end of the show floor, as well as a series of smaller staging areas located throughout the space. This served to create a unified feeling to the day by allowing attendees to sample various elements without having to stray too far from the center of show activity.
On one end was HX: Onstage – Hotel, which featured lodging industry updates, exhibitor spotlights and panel discussions on topics ranging from the utilization of customer feedback and the greening of lodging to the latest trends in laundry, hospitality and facilitating the social media hotel experience.
At the other end of the show floor was HX: Onstage – Restaurant. At this stage, guests enjoyed presentations on foodservice design, industry overviews and signature cocktails, a chef’s roundtable, and fun competitions including a tabletop design challenge and a Jeopardy-like foodservice IQ test that raised money for charity.
Other staging areas included HX: Studio, featuring interviews with industry leaders being videotaped on the spot, HX: Beverage, with daily tastings and presentations on tea, wine, spirits, craft beer, bourbon and beverage service, the Salon of Culinary Arts, including a culinary arts exhibit and salon demonstrations, and the Foodservice Pioneering Concept, which showcased the winning design for Bienvenu, an unfolding tapas and wine bar.
Another terrific feature was the HX:TECH Pavilion, hosted by the good folks from Dahlia+. Not only did the team provide a handy spot for attendees to stop by, recharge their phones and ask tech questions about their mobile devices, apps and internet platforms, they presented several days worth of cutting edge info by industry experts on the latest tech tools and practices. They also hosted the HX:TECHPitch competition for best new tech solution. The winner, by popular vote, was none other than our friends at Social Tables.
Within the fantastic array of venue, food, beverage, equipment, furnishings, amenities, and service providers, I had a few personal favorites that stood out for their unique and innovative qualities.
The first is Tray Bien. an ingenious serving tray created by two Dartmouth engineering students, Krystyna Miles and Shinri Kamei. Seeking a solution to the precarious and ergonomically challenging design of standard beverage trays, the duo have come up with an award-winning product that is generating a lot of excitement. Between the overwhelming practicality of their invention and their infectious, youthful enthusiasm, Krytyna and Shinri stole my heart from the first moment.
The second is Floss Daddy, brandable dental floss packets that make the ideal hotel amenity attached to a unique business card. This is, to me, another one of those deceptively simple ideas that makes you wonder how we have lived without it thus far.
And finally, I loved the blending of art, design and practicality exemplified by the Madhouse collection of disposable and semi-permanent dinner & serveware and cutlery designed by Michael Aram. Pushing the creative boundaries in this most useful set of products, this was my hands down esthetic favorite of the show.
Now that it has stepped up to the plate in every area, I look forward to seeing how HX: The Hotel Experience evolves next year.