Wow! A couple of days ago I posted a blog about major changes that were coming to this year’s HFTP Annual Convention. Although we talk a lot about the power of social media, it is still amazing to me that one post (or in this case a RE post) can generate so many “likes,” comments, suggestions and excitement about something. Less than 24 hours after the post, one of our past presidents informed me that seven different HFTP members were asking questions and suggested that we share more details as soon as possible. Rather than wait until the Club and Hotel Controllers Conference and HITEC, (my original plan) there is just too much interest not to seize the moment!
Schedule change: Traditionally, the convention ran from Wednesday evening through Saturday. This year, the convention will run three FULL days from Wednesday through Friday. Expect a fun opening party Wednesday night, a free evening to enjoy the sights and sounds of Las Vegas Thursday evening and the President’s Installation and HFTP Helps Silent Auction which will end the convention on Friday.
Keynotes: This year’s keynote sessions are dynamic, inspirational, captivating and thought provoking. I’d like to suggest that they will actually stun you! Country clubs and multi-star hotels are one of the greatest targets of data breaches due to their high end member/guests! Attorneys James Giszczak and Dominic Paluzzi, who are both part of the data privacy and cybersecurity practice group at McDonald Hopkins PLC, will speak on “Cybersecurity Risks and Data Breach Response Tips.” On Thursday, Michael Levie, CHTP, will examine the possibilities of how our business can stand out and prosper ahead of our competitive competition set. Dr. Chan Kim and Dr. Renee Mauborgne introduced us in 2005 to “Blue Ocean Strategy, creating uncontested market space and make the competition irrelevant.” Pursuing differentiation and lowering cost stand at the center, but how to achieve that given our own day to day tasks. This session will discuss what are the necessary tools we need, how do we go about creating our own blue oceans, who can we use as examples or modeling tools and what does success look like. Learn about company culture and DNA rather than a step-by-step process and on how to get motivated for achievement. Immediately following a series of recognition and association successes on Friday morning, Googles’ Neil Hoyne, head of customer analytics at Google and co-chair of the performance marketing committee at Interactive Advertising Bureau will share some of the latest information from the marketing world that is also sure to amaze.
Concurrent sessions: The traditional one-hour concurrent sessions populate the schedule on Friday, presented by field experts. A selection of topics for 2016 include: club revenue, attracting the new generation, project management, contract negotiation, digital strategy and more.
Workshops: Dive in to learning on the first day with in-depth workshops. The goal for the three-hour sessions is to provide an intensive course on crucial industry topics such as: data security, revenue management, teamwork and strategy, and budgeting.
20-minute “cluster” sessions: Going in the opposite direction from the deep dive sessions, Thursday morning includes a series of 20-minute sessions to give attendees a briefing on multiple topics of interest. Two time slots are scheduled one after the other, with each offering four different topics to choose from (that brings us to a total of 8 topics offered in one morning!). Topics include: PineappleSearch 101, PCI compliance, outsourcing, Affordable Care Act, overtime laws, technology innovation, and career succession.
Meet-Ups: Networking is one of the most important benefits of attending the Annual Convention. We attract registrants from all around the world that are looking to expand their knowledge, become inspired, and cultivate meaningful connections. So this year we have incorporated into the program a chance to meet exactly the kind of attendees that you want to connect with. These meet-ups organized in coffee shop style groups under topics such as leadership, volunteerism, nonprofit law, best practices, career enhancement and many more.
Recognition: The Annual Convention is traditionally a time to honor the association, its volunteers, members, and successes from the past year. This year is no exception! During our three day time together, we will honor the 2016 Paragon Award winner, chapters of the year, and exceptional HFTP volunteers. CHAE and CHTP designees should plan to meet with fellow designees at the Certification Reception. Lastly, members will hear about the association’s accomplishments and goals at the business meeting on Friday morning preceding the keynote presentation.
Vendor interaction: Moving away from the trade show concept, we will provide both buyers and sellers a chance to interact without the traditional conversation in the exhibit hall. The conference has been integrated with opportunities to encourage relationship conversations throughout the three days. We “borrowed” an idea from the HFTP Florida Regional to incorporate a speed-dating style lunch, added time for vendor tutorial style education, created an opportunity for two minute video clips and a few other “get to know us” branding options. For vendors who want to support us but have conflicting schedules, less expensive alternatives are being offered to being there physically. HFTP membership and conference dues would be triple or quadruple without their support.
President’s Evening and HFTP Helps Silent Auction: This year’s Friday evening event will be bigger and better than ever! While we celebrate HFTP’s accomplishments, attendees will participate in the installation of the new HFTP Global President as well as the 2016-2017 board. Building on the success of last year’s event, HFTP will again host a charity silent auction during the evening. Since there are no sessions to worry about the next morning, dancing, bidding, and networking will definitely rule the night and will offer the perfect ending to a great night!
Planning: Over the last couple of years, face to face conferences throughout the meetings industry have suffered major declines, member’s budgets have been cut, supporter budgets are stretched to the limit, and in spite of the exceptional quality of our meetings the Annual Convention attendance has remained flat. It was against this backdrop that HFTP Board of Directors made the decision to take some major, but, calculated, risks with the Annual Convention. To be fair, rather than task a council with this responsibility the Board of Directors decided that they should take the responsibility and risk on themselves.
For those who will not be in New Orleans, I look forward to seeing you in Las Vegas! You can also contact me at Frank.Wolfe@hftp.org or on Facebook at Frank I Wolfe.
Frank Wolfe, CAE, is the CEO of HFTP and an inductee into the International Hospitality Technology Hall of Fame and an HFTP Paragon Award winner. He often speaks on hospitality and travel related issues. He is an author, speaker and an advocate of careers in hospitality technology or finance. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter@frankwolfe. Or Facebook: Frank I. Wolfe.