December 28, 2020

Farewell to 2020: A Look Back at the Challenges, Opportunities Presented by a Pandemic

HFTP Membership
Written by Briana Gilmore

The final HFTP Europe Hangout of the year made a few requests of its participants: wear some fun holiday garb, bring your sense of humor, tell a few stories about how 2020 put everyone through the ringer – and, on a lighter note, share what we hope for in 2021. It was a valuable reminder that we all must continue on with optimism and determination until we can finally emerge and prosper on the other side.

After all has been said and done, there were some valuable new opportunities to come out of 2020. Much of it is thanks to HFTP’s dedicated membership who tapped into the association’s professional network to remind each other that those working in the hospitality industry are not alone in their struggles. They did this by attending HFTP’s new slate of virtual Hangout sessions, which began earlier this year in the spring. Many also displayed positivity and determination for the future by taking advantage of HFTP’s professional development opportunities.

Check out some of the highlights from 2020 below. Then, be sure to revisit HFTP Connect in January for updates on new association initiatives anticipated for 2021.

Virtual Education

In response to the sudden shift away from the traditional workspace, HFTP launched a series of online Hangouts as a new gateway for professional networking, engagement and development. Key takeaways from many of these sessions are available on HFTP Connect. Topics that were addressed throughout the year include: hotel occupancy and profitability trends, U.S. legislation impacting hospitality businesses, club reopening best practices, budgeting and forecasting, work-from-home security, business innovation, emerging technologies, and so much more. Many of these sessions have been recorded and are available on the HFTP Hangout Resources page, including the HFTP Europe Hangout series.

HFTP also continued to offer virtual, educational webinars throughout the year. These sessions are now available in the HFTP Webinar Archives Library, which dates back to 2018. Topics in 2020 include ethics, immigration, the future of meetings and event space design, cybersecurity, AI, payment process automation and business intelligence. Visit the HFTP website for more information on all of the association’s virtual education offerings.

Read the HFTP Hangout Recaps on HFTP Connect >>

Check out the HFTP Hangout Recordings and Resources >>

Visit the HFTP Webinar Archives Library >>

Professional Development

The effects of the pandemic saw many hospitality professionals furloughed or laid off and in a new, unexpected search for employment. HFTP began offering discounts on its professional certification programs to help members use this time to build their skills, improve their marketability and become more competitive in the industry. These programs include the Certified Hospitality Accountant Executive (CHAE) and the Certified Hospitality Technology Professional (CHTP).

New this year, HFTP partnered with Ascend on two new certificate courses for HFTP members: the USALI Theory and Practice Certificates. Certificates provide valuable instruction, training and most importantly recognition of a specific practice or skillset – in this case, mastery of the concepts, structure and learning outcomes related specifically to the USALI. The first 50 HFTP members who had been furloughed from their jobs and applied for these certificate courses received free access through a special “First 50 Free” Campaign.

Learn More About the CHAE and CHTP Designations >>

Learn More About the USALI Certificate Courses >>


Many of HFTP’s successes during this difficult year can also be attributed to the continued support and guidance from leadership. As the 2019-2020 global president, Michael Levie, CHTP led the association through an international pandemic with optimism and a strong focus on the future. His experience as a global, imaginative hotelier has encouraged the association and its members to seek the possibilities in nearly impossible situations.

Read Tribute to Immediate Past President Michael Levie, CHTP >>

At the HFTP Annual Business Meeting in October 2020, the HFTP 2020-2021 Global Board and Executive Committee was installed – and Mark Pate, CHAE, CHTP, MBA became the new Global President. His dedication and passion for both the hospitality industry and for the association should serve as an inspiration for other professionals to get actively involved and become future leaders. “Our goal will be to position HFTP to soar to even greater heights than ever before in the coming year,” says Pate.

Read the First “Letter from the HFTP Global President” >>


The year 2020 saw a rapid shift of conferences, trade shows and association gatherings from in-person to online, and HFTP-produced events were no exception. Travel restrictions, as well as concerns for attendee health and safety, necessitated a transition from the traditional, in-person HITEC and HFTP Annual Convention events to an online format.

In 2020, HFTP produced its first virtual event CYBER HITEC, with the first three days featuring live interaction, followed by one month of on-demand access. The event hosted over 1,840 registered participants engaging in hospitality technology-focused education sessions, 18 virtual exhibit halls and multiple networking opportunities. Also enveloped within the programming was the HFTP Annual Convention, with a hospitality finance-focused education track.

Read the Recaps of Cyber HITEC from Official Event Guest Bloggers:

Exploring Ethics at Cyber HITEC: Tips to Approach Ethical Situations at Work >>

Two 2020 Mindset Shifts You Need to Adopt >>

Now Is the Time to Improve Your Accounting Processes >>

Technology Brings Hospitality Necessary Agility >>

HFTP is optimistic that 2021 will feature a return to in-person events and networking. It will start with the HFTP Club Summit, which is scheduled to take place May 24-25, 2021 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. This conference provides club professionals with two days of advanced-level education and engagement addressing industry strategy, trends and engagement.

HITEC North America 2021 will be held in-person on September 27-30 at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, Texas USA. Traditionally held in June, HITEC has been pushed back to give the hard-hit hospitality industry an opportunity to build positive momentum as it recovers from the pandemic-related slow-down. In addition, HFTP will co-locate its Annual Convention with HITEC Dallas, presenting an information-packed event to benefit multiple hospitality industry segments and stakeholders.

Read the Full Announcement on HFTP News >>

Finally, thank you to all of HFTP’s members, partners and stakeholders who helped each other see the bright side of 2020. See you all in 2021.

2020 2021 calendar certification challenges education events HFTP HFTP Hangout leadership opportunities virtual year in review