Event-planning in the midst of a global pandemic is no easy task, and while it may be difficult to imagine at this very moment, a foray back into face-to-face meetings and conferences is inevitable. It is just a matter of when.
When planning its 48th annual HITEC North America, HFTP ultimately decided that the show must go on in 2020 – albeit with several major updates that prioritize attendee health and well-being. HFTP has given itself an audacious goal to not only lead the way back into the hospitality industry conference scene, but also to be recognized as a model of safety that future conferences can emulate.
The planning and production of the first-ever “Best of HFTP” 2020 week is also being conducted with a high level of transparency. In that spirit, HFTP CEO Frank Wolfe, CAE, FIH hosted a press conference on Wednesday, May 13 to demonstrate HFTP’s plan to reinvent the hospitality conference and tradeshow experience amid Covid-19 as the industry begins its economic recovery.
About The Best of HFTP 2020
HFTP restructured its 2020 events calendar early on by moving its early 2020 events to October 2020 and co-locating them to become The Best of HFTP. HITEC North America, the HFTP Annual Convention and the HFTP Club Forum will all convene the final week of October at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas USA.
A few of HFTP’s allied partner organizations will also be co-locating events at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, including HSMAI’s ROC Conference (October 26-27) and HTNG.
Safe Space, Valuable Networking
HFTP is taking several measures to properly protect attendees from Covid-19. These measures include:
- Cloth masks will be required.
- Hand sanitation stations will be made available.
- There is no carpet requirement for exhibitors.
- There will be special badging procedures to limit contact.
- Education sessions will be set up to ensure proper social distancing (six feet).
- Food and beverage will be provided in a no-contact way.
- Indoor/outdoor spaces will be strategically used to maximize safety.
- Floor stickers will provide social distancing guidance.
- HFTP will also follow the most up-to-date CDC protocols.
The host city of San Antonio, Texas has also introduced its own safety measures that include: social distancing, encouraging the use of face coverings and hand sanitizers, following CDC cleaning protocols, conducting temperature checks and implementing contactless payment processes.
In addition, San Antonio business owners and associations have produced “The Greater. Safer. Together. Pledge” with the aim to protect the health and safety of their employees and customers alike.
The HFTP meetings teams is drawing from multiple resources to bring hospitality professionals to San Antonio in October. In addition to promoting adherence to the health safety measures listed above, HFTP is presenting the event as not only The Best of HFTP, but also a grand restart for hospitality meetings. The event is happening with support from allied partners: HSMAI, HTNG, AAHOA and more. Plus, HFTP is being looked on as a meeting model by the hospitality and exhibits community, and the City of San Antonio and Texas.
With the hospitality industry being one of the hardest hit by the current pandemic, HFTP also understands that travel expenses are limited for many industry professionals. To assist, HITEC is looking to provide Qualified Buyer Scholarships.
The other attraction to this year’s event is its location of San Antonio. In October, the weather will be beautiful and warm, very conducive to preferred outdoor networking. The convention center area is right in the city’s downtown which features the city’s famous River Walk, which runs more than 15 miles and is lined with restaurants and boutiques.
HITEC Takes the Industry “From Clean to Cleaner“
As the producers of HITEC, HFTP strives to help the hospitality industry respond rapidly to the ever-evolving guest experience. In this time, cleanliness is now the greatest concern and essential to restoring confidence in travel. In response to this sudden shift, HFTP will unveil The “Clean to Cleaner” pavilion at HITEC 2020, a brand-new display of contactless and cleaning technologies for the hospitality industry of the future.
HITEC will also feature special reports and educational sessions presenting cleaner options and best practices from around the world. The program includes a Keynote Session by John Picard, a design innovator who connects visionary thinking with emerging technologies to drive successful projects for companies. View the future of hospitality through his eyes when you read this blog post and plan to attend his HITEC presentation in the fall.
The Possibility of a Hybrid HITEC Experience
Realistically, it will not be possible for everyone who wants to attend to attend. HFTP is currently in negotiations to offer a hybrid experience for HITEC attendees, providing a virtual component that would allow registrants to view general sessions and some concurrent education sessions live online. Tradeshow exhibitors would further have the opportunity to host a virtual booth with attendee bag inserts as well as virtual networking and appointments.
About the HFTP Club Forum: Taking place October 26, this single-day interactive meeting will provide club professionals the opportunity to connect with industry peers, share ideas and discuss club-related challenges in a small group setting.
About the HFTP Annual Convention: This is HFTP’s premiere educational and networking event that also serves to honor HFTP members and the association’s accomplishments. It will take place October 27-29. An exclusive area in the HITEC Exhibit Hall called the “Convention Corner” will feature table-top exhibits and space to network. The event will be capped by a closing reception.
Attendees to the Club Forum and Annual Convention will also have access to select HITEC events including the General Sessions and Entrepreneur 20X (E20X), an exciting hospitality technology startup pitch competition taking place on October 26.
About HITEC North America: This global conference and tradeshow will run October 26-29 and features three keynote speakers, a four-day education program, and a world-class exhibit hall with 250+ exhibiting companies. Currently the HITEC exhibit hall is 75 percent sold, with time still left for companies to join the show.
HITEC Dubai Is Set for September 2020
HITEC Dubai is still on track to take place September 14-16, 2020, co-located with The Hotel Show Dubai at the Dubai World Trade Centre in Dubai, UAE. Visit the HITEC Dubai microsite for the latest information.
Stay Tuned and See You in October at The Best of HFTP
HFTP is working daily to deliver a memorable experience this October. This includes incorporating recommended guidelines for gatherings; as well as, integrating topics of discussion and solutions that are responsive to this unique situation the industry is in. Watch for news on HITEC developments over the next few months on the HITEC site. And if you are ready, be sure to register. See you there.
I can’t wait to attend this years conferences featuring the BEST OF HFTP! I’ve been looking forward to seeing friends and colleagues from all over the world and can’t think of a better place than San Antonio. The education, the networking and the camaraderie will be unprecedented especially during these times, I hope to see everyone there and I’ll have my “mask” on!
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