Be Prepared: Have an Action Plan for Professional Development

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Written by: Artak Gevorgian, CHAE, MBA — Official HFTP® 2018 Guest Blogger

I am currently making my travel arrangements for Louisville, Kentucky next week, as are the rest of my fellow HFTP 2018 Annual Convention attendees. The process has brought back memories from the 2017 HFTP Annual Convention in Orlando, Florida — where I was a first-time attendee and first-time guest blogger.

The preparations took me back to my closing blog post from last year, Ready to Go- Takeaways from Annual Convention #HFTP65. In this post, my number one recommendation for Annual Convention attendees was this: a well-defined action plan is essential for a successful event experience. And so, I ask myself the same question this year: Do I have an action plan?

I recently made a job change from the lovely resort property Dead Sea Marriott Resort & Spa to the beachfront W Muscat Hotel in Oman which is still in its pre-opening stage. This transition has turned my focus to learning more from my colleagues about the benchmark practices of the hotel pre-opening process in the North American market. My hope is that networking and having conversations with my fellow Annual Convention participants will help me identify cultural common ground and differences, as well as the key points and new strategies of leading successful pre-openings.

The hotel pre-opening process varies from one market to another — one continent, one operator, one owner to another. There are so many different factors affecting the process and dictating the climate of a pre-opening.

The Annual Convention session The Hotel Pre-Opening Process on Friday, October 26 at 3:45 p.m. should explore this subject in length. The research team from the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston and the HFTP Americas Research Center will examine the pre-opening process for hotels, focusing on the budgeting process, timelines for hiring key staff and technology implementation schedules. We will all be encouraged to share our own experiences during this session and I look forward to learning from the insights of my fellow attendees.

Another hot-button topic for hotel finance professionals (at least for many of us) that will be addressed at Annual Convention: Where can we get access to updates and explanations of new accounting information, rules and regulations that continuously impact the hospitality industry — and what are professional associations like HFTP doing to help us adapt?

The session Alphabet Soup: An Update from the HFTP HFAC and AH&LA Financial Management Committee on Thursday, October 25 at 11:10 a.m. will give an industry update from the HFTP Hotel Finance Advisory Council and the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s (AH&LA) Financial Management Committee. We will be able to explore new information and also raise important questions, such as how the solicitation process can be improved upon and made available to a worldwide audience of hotel finance professionals.

Generally speaking these days, technology and finance are so intermingled that you cannot always count on the output of one discipline without input from the other. It is advisable for professionals in the hospitality finance discipline to stay informed and knowledgeable in hotel technologies; they should also open the door to earning a designation in technology like HFTP’s Certified Hospitality Technology Professional (CHTP®), in addition to HFTP’s Certified Hospitality Accountant Executive (CHAE®) for finance professionals.

At Annual Convention, I plan to dedicate more time to sessions in the “technology” education category to help me better understand the need for hotel finance professionals to earn dual designations in both hospitality finance and technology.

With these goals and more in mind, I will depart next week as a prepared explorer from Muscat, Oman, Middle East to the HFTP 2018 Annual Convention in Louisville, Kentucky, USA.

Artak Gevorgian is director of finance at the W Hotel Muscat in Oman, Middle East and an official guest blogger for the HFTP 2018 Annual Convention, taking place October 24-26, 2018 at the Omni Louisville Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky USA. Check back on HFTP Connect for more of Artak’s experiences at Annual Convention this year.

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