A smile has not left my face from the moment our wheels touched the tarmac at the McCarran International Airport here in Las Vegas, Nevada. I am accompanied by five other graduate students from the University of South Florida and in such a short period of time we have been overwhelmed with emotion and respect for HFTP as on organization and the family-styled culture. To be completely honest, I was slightly intimidated about what to expect and how we would fit in as students to this elite organization of highly respected professionals. To say the least, I am in complete awe.
Yesterday, we arrived at the Annual Convention that was hosted in an elegant setting situated between several ballrooms at Caesar’s Palace. My first hospitality interaction was when we discovered that we were not the only ones that seemed to be lost and in a panic as we were trying to find the registration desk and more importantly, the location of our event. This place is HUGE. All jokes aside, this is how I knew I was in a great place with great people because I felt a sense of connection from my very first encounter. From that point forward, every verbal interaction made me feel embraced in the HFTP family and everyone I have met so far has been respectful and helpful in every way.
I have attended Keynote presentations and Fast-track sessions so far. The Fast tracks were new to this year’s convention and although they were packed with useful information, I felt like we could have used just a little more time. Our opening Keynote speakers were fantastic. Their topics focused on cyber security and data breach response tips. The seminar was light-hearted, interactive and engaging. We ended the first day on a great note with a beautifully organized reception that included great food, celebrity appearances and a dancing marathon. Let’s not forget, two giant walking pineapples.
Day two was packed with information provided by astounding panel members that have elaborate backgrounds in the industry. Although I am relatively new to this finance/technology area of hospitality, I am taking notes and absorbing as much as I possibly can while simultaneously trying my best to connect with as many members as time allows. Numerous topics were covered during the concurrent sessions, but the one that stood out to me in particular was Technology Innovation. I learned about the cutting edge software programs that will take our industry to the next level. New technology trends, such as geo-fencing, differentiate many organizations from their competition. Adopting such trends that technological evolution offers the industry may allow hotels and clubs to surpass the expectations and needs of our customers. I look forward to revealing my experiences after attending Friday’s events and I am so thankful to be a part of this year’s HFTP Annual Convention.
Michael Bonn is a student at the University of South Florida Sarasota. Contact Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org.