Written By: Sarah Ford
When I first learned HFTP® was hosting a new event called the “Club Summit” designed specifically for those of us in the club industry, I knew it was an opportunity I could not miss. When I discovered it was being held in New Orleans, Louisiana, I was done booking my ticket before finishing the sentence. I had the chance to attend two full days of club specific education, network with club vendors, see my HFTP friends from all over the country, meet new people, and most importantly — get out of the cold!
Pictured: The New Orleans skyline along the Mississippi River.
A couple of months later, I packed my bags and hopped on the plane headed to warmth. The reception at the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel was exceptional. The hotel itself is a beautiful, well-appointed building filled with southern charm and hospitality. Situated one block from Bourbon Street, it was the perfect location for a mix of education and entertainment.
The first day of Club Summit had finally arrived! I was very excited to get started, but first I needed COFFEE… and I wasn’t the only one. The line for that strong New Orleans chicory coffee was pretty extensive.
The kick-off session was a brilliant guide through clubs of the future. We learned of upcoming trends in club demographics, and which types of technology are necessary for clubs to stay relevant. Much like all of the sessions at Club Summit, there were plenty of great ideas to share with my staff, general manager and board of directors.
In between the sessions, we were given ample opportunity to meet with the HFTP Club Summit sponsors. In my opinion, spending 20 minutes with a sponsor is the equivalent to networking for an entire hour. They have vast amounts of industry knowledge, and their social networks are coast-to-coast and even beyond! I was not in the market to buy anything, but it is always worthwhile to spend time seeing what is out there and meet new people.
If you were not there, you may have a hard time believing me when I say that the “Club Ethics” class was one of the most fun sessions I have ever attended. Is it strange to see the words “ethics” and “fun” in the same sentence? It’s true! The presenters were engaging, and the collaborative format was dynamic. It was a terrific way to wrap up day one.
The second day started similarly to the first: coffee and excellent education. This was all going by too quickly! The wrap-up session was an “Open Forum,” which was the most interactive of the entire Summit. Club controllers and CFOs from all over the country were asking questions, sharing knowledge and collaborating with one another in a lively fashion. With all of the experience in that room, it could have gone on for days.
However, like all good things, the Club Summit had come to an end. It was time to say goodbye — or was it? In a classic “watch out what you wish for” scenario, my flight home Tuesday evening was cancelled. I was able to spend one more night in the warmth of New Orleans among my old and new HFTP friends.
Pictured: Jackson Square in New Orleans at nightfall.
I eventually did make it home — but I am already looking forward to packing my bags for the next Club Summit. See you in 2019!
Sarah Ford is the director of finance at The Army and Navy Club in Washington, D.C., and a member of both the HFTP Club Advisory Council and Annual Convention Education Advisory Council.