The Dealmakers’ Ballroom: What the future holds

Right now, at the hotel a few blocks from where you live or work, there’s a good chance that something exciting is happening. It isn’t a dropped tray in the restaurant or a housekeeper walking in on a tryst. It’s far greater: the future is being planned, defined. Two partners are putting the finishing touches on a presentation to venture capitalists. A person who has spent years developing a product is pitching it to the person who might be his first customer.

Some of these meetings will amount to nothing, a lifetime’s effort yielding nothing but a story. Others, however, will produce everything from satisfaction to incredible amounts of wealth. From the crowd of startup jockeys occupying space in hotel lobbies, jobs will be created, and countless lives will be changed.

If you want to see the future from conception, it’s happening now – and it’s happening in a hotel lobby.The entrepreneurs gathering behind the shroud of people in motion may not be allowed to meet in the spaces they have claimed, but they are using the skills they have developed or been taught to evade detection with the ultimate goal of seeing their dreams come to fruition. They are staying below the radar and working diligently to pick the right hotel lobbies for the tasks at hand. No move is unplanned, with the hope that one conversation – one of many, most likely – will deliver the desired outcome.

It’s a strange situation, no doubt.

The next time you pass through an urban hotel lobby, don’t bolt for the elevator bank or the front door. Take your time; look around. Try to discern the pockets that form among the guests. You might just see the next big thing long before it happens.

This is a week-long series from the writer of White Collar Travel about the role hotels will play not only in the recovery of our economy, but in giving an early home to the businesses that will define tomorrow.