Thursday, June 26, 2003

Tech, security take stage
at hospitality annual expo

Vendors sell bioscanners
and remote systems to
manage restaurants

Technology and security are marching into the hospitality industry and a bigger-than-ever annual trade show will highlight new developments at the Neal Blaisdell Center July 9-10.

Visitors to the Hawaii Lodging, Hospitality & Foodservice Expo can investigate how it is possible to manage several restaurants in locations many miles apart from a central office, monitoring cash-register transactions by computer and using tiny, almost-invisible cameras to watch how managers and staff interact with customers.

The new technology section of the expo will also feature security improvements, such as fingerprint and eye-iris recognition to control access to secure areas and even to connect to database sites on networked computers.

There will be high-technology energy-saving devices, too, said Ken Kanter, exposition director of Douglas Trade Shows, which produces the annual show.

"There are light and motion sensors that reduce demand for electricity in non-peak hours," Kanter said. For example, there is no need for lights in an area where no people are working. New systems can switch on lights when someone comes in, Kanter said.

One of the show's sponsors, HFM Food Service, will promote new ways for its wholesale food customers to do their ordering and make payments over the Internet, he said.

There will be 25 exhibitors in the technology section. One piece of high-technology equipment, the new electric bus for Honolulu Airport's Wiki-Wiki system, will be displayed outside, Kanter said.

The new technology show will help make this year's expo, first started in 1995, the biggest yet, Kanter said. Occupying both the exhibition hall and the arena, the Expo will have 540 exhibit booth spaces, 5.3 percent more than last year's 513.

It is expected to attract 5,000 potential buyers of goods and services. It is a showcase aimed at buyers of all kinds of hospitality goods and services, from restaurants and hotels to hospitals, retirement homes, prisons and even military units.

It will show everything from appliances and art to wall coverings and wines. Sponsors are credit card and merchant services provider American Express, food distributor HFM Food Service, health insurer Hawaii Medical Management Alliance Association and Hawaii Hospitality magazine, published by Trade Publishing Co.

While entry is free, the show is not open to the public. To get in, visitors will have to show a business card or other identification that marks them as part of the hospitality industry.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days.

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