Written by: Mark Pate Sr., CHAE, CHTP, MBA
Have you ever heard the old saying “If you haven’t been to a HFTP chapter meeting lately, you haven’t been to a HFTP chapter meeting”? In case you didn’t know, I just made that up – but it is very true, nonetheless.
In the last year, our HFTP chapters and their amazing leadership teams have made multiple changes and enhancements to keep the group together, engaged and focused on the business of hospitality while at the same time caring for the needs of the individual chapter member.
My own chapter – the HFTP Mid-Florida Chapter – is actually eight hours away from where I live, but I have attended more meetings in the last year and had more contact with my chapter than ever before. They, like all our other chapters, had to become very creative in the last year to respond to the needs of chapter members. As in-person meetings were limited or not possible at all, the chapters switched to a virtual option, and many continue that option now so that their members have the best of both worlds. You can find out more about upcoming chapter events on the HFTP website.
I had the privilege of speaking at an in-person meeting at my chapter earlier this year, and it was great to see the excitement of the members as they were able to meet face-to-face once again. Of course, everyone got caught up on all the latest news, but then the questions turned to “How are you doing?”, “How is business at your club/hotel?”, “Do you need anything?”. This demonstrated once again that HFTP is more than an amazing association; it is friends and family caring about you and the challenges you face.
Many HFTP chapters have invigorated their philanthropic efforts throughout this time. Recently, HFTP Helps, the association’s charitable initiative, partnered with its HFTP India members and the HFTP Dubai Chapter on a “Covid-19 India Relief Drive” as a response to the heightened Covid-19 crisis in India. The donations raised by this fundraiser will go to vetted organizations that are working to supply equipment such as oxygen concentrators and ventilators. You can read more about this fundraiser, and how to donate, on HFTP News.
In February, the HFTP Rochester Institute of Technology Student Chapter hosted a cookie baking project to thank their local first responders in an impressive effort to inspire goodwill in the hospitality industry (read the story on HFTP News). The HFTP Greater Austin Chapter organized a donation challenge to raise funds for their local Ronald McDonald House. And other chapters are activating their philanthropy efforts by bringing back charity golf tournaments and outings this year – for example, the HFTP Greater Philadelphia Chapter is hosting their 25th Annual Golf Outing in July.
As the HFTP Global Board President, I have had the privilege to represent the association at many chapter meetings, providing updates on the association at a global level, while providing guidance on how HFTP can help grow their chapter and assist members in their professional careers. Recently, I presented at a virtual chapter meeting with the HFTP Greater Houston Chapter and University of Houston Cougar Student Chapter. I also presented alongside fellow HFTP Global Director Jonathon Goodman, CHAE, CPA in two virtual meetings with the HFTP Greater Puget Chapter and Central Washington University Student Chapter in the Seattle, Washington region. Chapters that combine their meetings like this tap into a great opportunity to share an interesting speaker or get a student chapter involved that may not have a lot of resources for their own monthly meetings.
Our student chapters are vital in engaging the industry’s future leaders in the local community, as well as in their professional development. Just last week, Linden Pohland was hosting a “Young Professionals Chatter (Ask Me Anything)” virtual session, where he introduced participants to his professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology, who helped him start the student chapter there. He also relayed how this experience has cemented his love for the hospitality industry and confirmed his career path.
Even with all the virtual meetings still going on, there is a growing confidence in a return to in-person events and networking that has further contributed to renewed energy in chapter engagement. HFTP Global just hosted its first in-person event since the start of the pandemic – the HFTP 2021 Club Summit, which was held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on May 24 and 25.
The first regional conference is coming back this year, as well. Hosted by the HFTP Mid-Florida Chapter with the Florida Gold Coast and Treasure Coast chapters, the 2021 HFTP Florida Regional Conference will take place July 21-23 at the Streamsong Resort in Bowling Green, Florida. Regional conferences are great opportunities that provide industry education and access to fellow industry professionals in your region.
Even as our currently established chapters get back to business, new chapters are also in the works. Next month, HFTP anticipates the chartering of new chapters in Mexico City and India. You can learn more about the process to charter a new chapter on the HFTP website.
In my first “Letter from the HFTP Global President” blog post back in January, I wanted to encourage HFTP members to take advantage of the many leadership opportunities available with HFTP – and one such opportunity is to serve on the board of a local member chapter or student chapter – they are always looking for folks to help organize their events and serve on their board. These opportunities will prove invaluable in honing your leadership skills.
You can also help our chapters by joining the HFTP Chapter Relations Committee, which provides recommendations on chapter relations initiatives, including chapter affiliation, leadership training and end-of-year reporting, as well as suggestions for future programming. If you are interested in serving on this committee, I encourage you to reach out to the HFTP Global chapter relations team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, if you want to learn more about HFTP chapters, consider attending the next HFTP Members Orientation, hosted by Victoria Schaefer and Barbara Semeraro, the chapter relations team at the HFTP Global office. These are listed on the Virtual Education page of the HFTP website once they have been scheduled.