At 31 years old, young, foolish and arrogant, I was ready to make my mark in the association world and was being recognized for my accomplishments at the Texas Restaurant Association when I came to this organization. At the time, I was getting a bit tired of traveling to small Texas towns to teach seminars and my intention was to become a Certified Association Executive which took lots of study time and like all my friends, I wanted to be a “manager.”
So, in March of 1991, I stepped into the then IAHA offices (now HFTP) for a job interview and was surprised at both the size and scope. At seven full time employees, it was tiny compared to TRA. TRA had its own building and was the second largest state restaurant association in the United States, IAHA had it’s own “suite” of offices in an old office complex.
During the interview, I became intrigued with the organization, found out that I’d get my own Dell Desktop Computer, travel would be minimal which meant that I could study, pay would be minimal and my office was going to be a converted closet. During those days hardly anyone had their own desktop, no one was ever going to see my office anyway and International Associations based in Austin, Texas, were rare… so I took the job.
My first few days went very well, I met some great people via the telephone, the staff was very nice, and my computer was delivered. On the fourth day of work, I recieved a page that I had a call from Mr. John Cahill, then CIO of Intercontinental Hotel Corp. I knew of Mr. Cahill and his accomplishments, including the fact that he had helped develop the Holidex Reservations System, and nervous was too kind a word for what I felt.
I answered the phone and Mr. Cahill was very nice, welcomed me to the “team” as the new Director of Education, and then proceeded to tell me his ideas for HITEC, and also for a certification program for technology professionals. I don’t recall the exact time frame he mentioned but the word “year” was not in the conversation anywhere. I promised him my best and the conversation ended with him seemingly happy and me even more nervous than before.
Literally, within minutes, I received another page that Mr. Larry Chervenak was on the line for me and I broke out in a sweat! HITEC was Mr. Chervenak’s idea, he was very firm about how it should be operated and I’d heard stories that he could be quite challenging sometimes.
As I picked up the phone, his assistant said, “please hold for Mr. Chervenak.” The next thing I knew there was a semi gruff voice on the line that said, “young man, what the hell do you know about hospitality technology?” At first I did not know what to say because the correct answer was nothing. Finally, I stammered, “whatever you can teach me” and that placated him.
In future years, Larry and I had a sometimes rocky relationship but he taught me a lot about the industry and the CKC Report informed many people about hospitality technology over the years, including me.
After being the Director of Education for a couple of years, then IAHA President, Henry A. “call me Buddy” Weeks, took a huge risk and convinced the Board of Directors to give the young kid a chance to lead this great organization.
Since that time in 1994, I have been blessed with many awesome staff members, board members, mentors, friends — and even competitors — who have assisted me in my career and who have been responsible for making HFTP what it is today. To date, I have served under 21 different Boards and have attended 21 HITECs, Annual Conventions and many other meetings…and continue to enjoy them all.
I don’t have the space to thank each one of the individuals who have made such an impact on my career and assisted me in getting into the HFTP International Hospitality Technology Hall of Fame and don’t have the courage to miss anyone.
So, when I was asked to blog about my thoughts, I thought I’d better stick to mentioning only the first three people who started me on this path. I’d also like to thank the 27 industry professionals who wrote the incredibly kind nomination letters and those whose idea it was to nominate me to begin with.
Being inducted into the the Hall of Fame is the greatest professional honor of my career and the second greatest thing to ever happen to me. I am excited about continuing to carry the HFTP banner to other parts of the world and look forward to a time when our certified members measure in the thousands.
Frank Wolfe, CAE, CEO of HFTP will be inducted into the International Hospitality Technology Hall of Fame on Tuesday, June 21 at 8:30 a.m. during the Keynote Session. He is being honored for his stewardship to the hospitality technology industry and his leadership with various hospitality technology projects over the past 20 years.