Written by: Neil Foster, CHTP, MBA
Greetings fellow HFTP members! Bouncing back from years of mostly distanced interactions, I’m honored and excited to be “on the road” to spend time together with many of you in the upcoming months. With planned stops at local, regional and international events, I’m most excited to experience the best of HFTP. To hear your feedback, to exchange ideas, and to learn how we can support our volunteer groups — the amazing folks who keep our local, regional and international events going strong — as we find ourselves in a new and unfamiliar post-pandemic reality.
I’ve just returned to my home base in Vancouver after the first stop on the tour, the HFTP Mid-South Atlantic Regional Conference (MSARC), which took place March 1-3 at the Hotel Ballast in Wilmington, North Carolina USA. The conference was jointly hosted by the Charlotte-Blue Ridge, Central Carolina, Central Virginia and South Carolina Chapters of HFTP.
It was a special day and a half in Wilmington, where I joined attendees from a vast region of the US East Coast for an intense and informative day of education. I felt immediately at home with my HFTP family. Dating back to the discussions Terry Price and Steve Argo had in creating a regional event, MSARC has only missed one year (2020) — and for a good reason! Expertly organized, with high quality sessions, a comfortable venue and fun activities, this was a memorable conference. Credit and thanks go to Sarah, Matt, Duff, Debbie, Brock, Tonia, Tim, Pete and Mike, along with the engaging speakers and many sponsors, including conference sponsor SkyStem, for their great efforts to make the MSARC possible.
This week, I will be at the 1 Hotel West Hollywood for the HFTP Los Angeles Chapter meeting for a special reception, networking and an educational presentation on employment law in hospitality. Chapter events like these connect hospitality professionals at the most intimate, local level and allow you to build relationships with other like-minded individuals in close proximity.
HFTP events represent a wide range of coverage, not only geographically but also across various industry segments. At the end of the month, I will travel to Denver, Colorado to deliver opening remarks at the HFTP Club Summit, which has been a successful program of focused and advanced education for club professionals over the past five years.
Collaboration and the allied partnerships HFTP has established with fellow hospitality organizations is critical to our success. Together, we’re stronger, and when we combine our strengths and lend support to one another, these alliances bring great value to the industry as a whole. The Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA), the largest hotel owners’ association in the United States, is one such partner, and I’m delighted to attend AAHOACON23, the largest annual gathering of AAHOA members. We sincerely appreciate the strong historical support AAHOA has shown to HFTP, including the exposure to our association by AAHOA young professionals. New this year, HFTP is co-powering the AAHOACON23 Tech Pitch Competition, by lending expertise support in competitor selection and the judge’s panel.
Capping off the itinerary this spring, I look forward to connecting with our members halfway around the world in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at HITEC Dubai, taking place May 23-25 at the Dubai World Trade Centre. Co-located each year at The Hotel Show Dubai, the Middle Eastern edition of HITEC is part of a vibrant, influential scene that is bursting with hospitality technology innovation. Returning to HITEC Dubai again in 2023 is the HFTP Entrepreneur 20X (E20X) competition, where startups present their budding hospitality technology solutions for the chance to win prizes, as well as garner invaluable support and exposure for their business.
As a proud Canadian, I’m also excited about HITEC North America in Canada this summer — when thousands of my fellow hospitality professionals, technologists and executives made their way to the Metro Toronto Convention Center for HITEC Toronto, June 26-29. Under the leadership of co-chairs Shannon McCallum and Steve D’Erasmo, CHTP+, the HITEC Advisory Council (HAC) has been hard at work behind-the-scenes to put together a great conference. On a personal note, I look forward to welcoming you all to the city. I was lucky to call home in the early days of my hospitality technology career, where my involvement with HFTP had its start.
My dedication to the hospitality industry has always been motivated by the human side of the industry. I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with hotels, for the exposure to different cultures and perspectives at the front lines, and for the subsequent travels and moves where I could embrace diversity further outside my comfort zone. Since first joining the HFTP Global Board back in 2013, international focus has been a priority of mine, and we’ve come a long way! Building upon great efforts in the past, HFTP now includes an international HITEC brand among recent achievements.
Now, as the association’s President, it is my pleasure to represent the HFTP Global Board in these various appearances and engage directly with HFTP members, partners and stakeholders. Being present at these various events inspires and empowers me to discover how HFTP can better serve individual professionals in their own career journeys and the hospitality industry as a whole. Will you be attending the HFTP Club Summit or HITEC Dubai this spring, or HITEC Toronto this summer? If so, please say hello. If you’re still considering, there is time to register! I look forward to seeing you all in 2023 as we work together towards an even brighter future for HFTP and for hospitality.
Neil Foster, CHTP, MBA is the HFTP 2022-2023 Global President. Read this interview to learn more about Foster’s professional experience, background and history with the association.