As the plane’s wheels touched the ground, the captain came onto the loudspeaker, “Welcome to Richmond, Virginia where the local time is 3:42 p.m. and the current temperature is 7 degrees.” It was at this point I asked myself: Why in the world is this regional held in February? I assume it is because my good friends in the region wanted to see my South Florida body freeze.
So began the 9th annual Mid-South Atlantic Regional Conference or MSARC for short. Having attended this conference twice before as a speaker, I was confident that it would be a great conference. I was not let down at all. Thursday night started with a great vendor exhibit and welcome reception. For me, it was a chance to catch up with some old friends and make some new ones as the current Global President of HFTP. After a nice reception and then some dinner, I headed into the conference area to rehearse my HFTP update. This conference would be the first time I did the update as the Global President and I did not want to let the conference attendees down. After about an hour of making some adjustments with David Johnson and Bobby Usher (who I owe a few drinks to now), I was off to bed. After all, the HFTP Update was the opening session and it started at 8:15 a.m. This early start time, I believe, was part of the “thoughtful” planning of my good friends in the region who know I am not a morning person.
Thankfully, I woke up on time and was ready for my presentation. Friday was filled with great educational presentations on risk management, ethics, IT strategic planning, hospitality tax, and a closing session by Denise Ryan called “Motivation by Chocolate.” Yes, I said chocolate. I have heard Denise speak before and she never disappoints. Her take on looking at the world through chocolate was unique and engaging. My favorite point was lesson number five: chocolate should be savored or stop eating and start tasting. It helped to remind me that I need to slow down and appreciate all the unique experiences I am having as I serve as HFTP’s Global President. MSARC is one of those experiences and I made sure to take in my surroundings and enjoy my time with all the people I was able to interact with.
After Denise’s presentation, we went off to a spectacular venue, The Jefferson Hotel, for dinner and dancing. Transportation was provided by a unique trolley that reflected the vibe of Richmond. The only problem was the temperature and the fact that the trolley was not heated. Once again, I blame my good friends in the region for this one; however the cold weather did not put a damper on the evening. Everyone enjoyed the night, so much so that before I knew it, it was 11:00 p.m. and we had to hop back on the trolley for an even colder ride back to the hotel. After a night cap in the hotel lobby with some more HFTP members, it was off to bed.
Saturday at MSARC focused on two major topics, social media and technology trends. Both went well and substantial conversation was had by the attendees about these two topics. As the conference drew to a close, I realized it is because of our local HFTP volunteer leaders that regionals like this can take place. The regional was certainly enjoyable and I appreciate all the hard work the organizers put into the event.
So off I went to the airport. And what happened on the way? It started snowing. Can’t say I am surprised. I believe my good friends in the region planned this to happen as well. Maybe on second thought they aren’t that good of friends after all. Or maybe it is just that famous chocolate line, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get.”
Daniel N. Conti, Jr., CHAE, CAM, is the 2014-2015 Global President of Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP). Conti is the Director of Finance at Wyndham Grand Jupiter at Harbourside Place in Jupiter, Fl, USA.