I was sitting at a table this past October at the HFTP Leadership Summit, looking to meet people I didn’t already know. Who could I learn from? Who looked exciting and full of ideas? In walked three beautiful ladies. I stood up, smiled and waved them over. “Hi, I’m Jessica. Where are you ladies from?” They replied “we’re from the Jamaica Chapter” – and that is how I first met the lovely Andrene Williams (Half Moon Bay Resort), Tracy Christie-Smith (Round Hill Hotel & Villas) and Karen Grant (Round Hill Hotel & Villas).
Networking; something you think you’re either great at, or not so great. As defined by Webster’s:
The exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically: the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.
So there I was “networking” with my brethren from Jamaica. Fast forward to April 2014 and I receive an invitation to speak at the 9th Annual HFTP Jamaica Conference at the Sunset Beach Resort and Spa in Freeport, Montego Bay. Maybe it was a sign that it is time to get a passport, so I did.
Before I knew it, the day was May 17th, 2014 – what an awesome day! It was a wonderful conference under the theme: ‘Digital Technology: Keeping it Positive,’ put together by chapter president Tracy Christie-Smith and vice president Fitzroy Walker. Below is an overview of the events that took place that day:
- Introduction and welcome by Omar Robinson, GM at Round Hill Hotels & Villas and Board Member of Jamaica Tourism Association.
- HFTP Global President, Jerry Trieber providing a broad and educational presentation of HFTP and the association at large.
- HFTP past Global Director, Jessica Vint entertaining the students and professionals with a lighthearted approach and realistic insight into motivation.
- Suzette Grigg-Cummings, Consumer Affairs Advocate educating the audience on their rights as consumers.
- Wrapping up our day with Mr. Carl Berry, deputy superintendent of police with valuable information and on CyberCrime and how we as both individuals and merchants can protect ourselves.
Also during the event, 11 students from various educational institutions from across western Jamaica received scholarship grants amounting to $150,000. I was honored to be present during this special occasion and to witness the next generation of promising hospitality professionals.
These events proved in spades that no one holds a candle to the Jamaicans capacity for hospitality, their thirst for education, and their fighting spirit to be true to themselves and their heritage. It was an honor to be included and we should all watch out. The HFTP Jamaica Chapter is on their way!
Jessica Vint, CHAE, is a regional controller for The Hotel Group in Edmonds, WA. She has been a member of HFTP since 2004 and has served on the HFTP Global Board of Directors.