HFTP Continues to Build its Global Presence with First Membership Event in London

Written By: Carl Weldon

HFTP hosted its first membership event in London this month at the Rosewood Hotel London on Monday, March 6, 2017. The first welcome we received was from the hotel dog – called Pearl – so named as the building the hotel resides in used to be the Pearl Assurance Banking Hall – and very grand it is.

The evening started with drinks and canapes provided by the Rosewood Hotel courtesy of Barry Thomas the hotel’s IT director.

Attending that evening were 25 delegates and speakers who mingled in the pre-event networking – many friends and colleagues connecting, but never in an HFTP meeting environment.

The programme for the evening kicked off at 7:00 p.m.:

  • Introduction to HFTP and HITEC Amsterdam with, myself, Carl Weldon – Chief Operations Officer – Europe, HFTP.
  • The Broad IT Challenge of Different Guests in Varying Markets of the Luxury Hotel Segment with Barry Thomas, Area Director of Information Technology, Rosewood London and Europe and member of the HITEC Amsterdam Advisory Council.
  • Market Like It’s 2017 – It’s Now or Never in a Digital Age with Mark McCulloch Founder & Group CEO of WE ARE SPECTACULAR.
  • The Art and Science of User Experience Design – See Real Examples of Why It Is Important, and Discuss Ways to Improve the Overall User Experience with with Lyle Worthington, CHTP HFTP Global President and CIO, The Student Hotel.

I started the presentations off with our thanks to Andrew Evans of Keystep Solutions for sponsoring the event – and of course Barry and the Rosewood for their excellent hosting facilities.

I then talked through an introduction to HFTP, its membership (and benefits) and all HFTP’s upcoming events – especially of course HITEC Amsterdam. HFTP president Lyle Worthington added in that everything that HFTP does is not for profit and that HFTP puts everything back into the industry – Pineapple Search being a prime example.

Barry Thomas then shared the recent survey done with Rosewood guests in terms of what they want, need or expect from their technological experience(s) when staying in a luxury hotel – and what Barry and his team do to fulfill their needs. Barry made the point that although they constantly review their guests’ profiles with their likes and dislikes – this varies based on if they are staying on business or checking-in with family for a weekend. Security, reliability and ease of use were the key for Barry and his team. Sometimes it is just ‘getting the basics right’ and as Barry said, “Allow our guests to have a true ‘Sense of Place’ experience in our beautiful hotels.”

Mark McCullough of WEARESPECTACULAR then gave a master class on digital marketing — especially for the Millennials and Centennials (Generation Z apparently). Mark made some key and telling points about a younger generations coming through and how attitudes and their approach to work is different.

Many millennials are indeed doing a ‘day job,’ but may well be working as entrepreneurs outside of regular work to create the next ‘big thing’ or ‘passive income’ – but they do want to make a difference. Attention span and immediacy of message are important. Pictures are the ‘old’ text and video messaging are the new pictures.

Centennials are the next breed – and they really do look at everything online – 95 percent read online reviews while shopping. The key phrase for this group and millennials is “It’s not about you. It’s about them.”

Couple this with a low attention span and a need for immediacy, you get the ‘it’s now or never’ need to grab them – but where? Well, where do they live ? – on their smartphones ?.

Mark’s one piece of advice that stood out above all else was how to grab attention and be seen among all the social media channels – ‘Nuke everything – and start again.’

Mark’s presentation certainly seemed to resonate with both hoteliers and vendors alike.

The final presentation came from HFTP Global President Lyle Worthington, CHTP – currently residing as CIO for the Student Hotel in Amsterdam and fortuitously visiting London this very day.  Lyle covered his approach to UX design and compared it to doing research in terms of the steps you take to work UX and interactive design into an app or software. Lyle covered some examples of how important screens or pages can be buried way down in an apps layers when it should be further up and more accessible. When developing, you must go through thorough analysis, and rigorously test the software. Review users’ behavior and consistently test the design premise on how it works and is used.

Our thanks to the team in Austin for organizing and sending out the invitations, the Rosewood Hotel London for hosting, Keystep Solutions and Andrew Evans for sponsoring the evening, and of course our three speakers for an excellent set of engaging presentations.

Carl Weldon is the COO of Europe for HFTP. Contact Carl at Carl.Weldon@hftp.org or +1 (512) 220-4164.

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