I look at the calendar to see what October brings:
• Operating and Capital Budget preparation is in full swing
• End of Quarter reporting requirements have tight deadlines
• Year-end projections are needed, again and again
• We are at our peak business level
• Preparations begin for our External Audit
• Heavy lifting begins on the annual Halloween Party at my house (hey, real life matters!)
It is the busiest time of year, by far.
And yet, attending the HFTP Annual Conference in Seattle from October 21-24 might be the most important thing I do this month. How can that be?
Is it the Educational Programming? Yes, indeed. In years of attending Industry Conferences, only HFTP is crazy enough to schedule pre-dawn sessions and continue well into the evening. Yet, HFTP is crazy like a fox: these early morning programs are well attended by bright and dedicated people. I know this is true, since I often seen familiar faces from mere hours before! You know the topic is meaningful when attendees forgo sleep for attendance.
Is it the Networking? Absolutely. It isn’t always easy to meet new people, but the stability of HFTP means there are familiar faces each year. Attendees will meet dozens of new colleagues while reconnecting with existing contacts. (If you’re on the shy side, do some prep work: identify your a tough work challenge and make a simple question to compare solutions or ideas. Then, be sure to ask at least 4 people that question. You can make a new connection while possibly taking something useful back to the office!)
Is it the Entertainment Schedule? You bet! Many stereotypes about Accountants hold true, unless you are talking about Hospitality Accountants, who can be analytical with a warm personality. Event hosts do a great job of coming up with fun activities (downtown scavenger hunt, anyone?) to help you unwind after a heavy day of knowledge sharing. And you have a good chance of seeing well-regarded industry stalwarts dancing as if it were New Year’s Eve.
Annual Conference is of high value to any attendee, and it grows in usefulness each time I go. It’s just a shame I can only choose one session at a time, there are so many valuable topics. Maybe someday they’ll be captured, TEDtalk-style.
Until then, there’s still time to register! You’ll bring back much more than you’ll invest, dollar-wise. I hope to meet you there!
John Grigas, CHAE, is the Controller of the Madison Concourse Hotel and Past President of the Greater Milwaukee Chapter. He regularly tweets during conferences via @johngrigas.