It’s hard to imagine a greater professional honor than to help lead an industry association which supported one’s earliest career steps. Reflecting on the past year, I’m filled with gratitude for your support and faith in the HFTP Global Board and Executive Committee, who are all as passionate as our stakeholders are to find genuine hospitality and community as the bedrock of our association.
A year ago in Austin, optimism of renewal was in the air after years of isolation and distance, and it’s been reassuring to experience first-hand the strong chapters, thriving regional events, joint initiatives with industry partners, and successful flagship HFTP events in my travels over the past year. Overall, the HFTP brand has demonstrated its resilience and strength, as has the hospitality industry it represents.
The lessons? Embrace the unknown and reconsider expectations of stability, with open hearts and minds. With bubbling global tensions, generational workforce transitions, changing competitive landscape, and the rapid advance of technology development (ChatGPT’s release last November established us firmly in the AI age), more roadblocks undoubtedly lie ahead.
In the spirit of HFTP’s adaptability to uniquely understand the industry’s pressing issues and assist stakeholders in finding solutions, below are a few highlights of the past year:
We secured cooperation and a 10-year partnership with the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) and will publish the highly anticipated Universal System of Accounts for the Lodging industry (USALI) 12th edition in early 2024.
HITEC Toronto 2023 was a financial success with over 4,500 attendees and positive feedback, notwithstanding unprecedented travel issues and a competing event over the same period.
We revitalized partnerships with the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA), Boutique Leaders Lifestyle Association (BLLA), Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), Singapore Hotel Association (SHA) and DMG Events (our local partners with HITEC Dubai) to find new opportunities for collaboration.
We improved the pipeline and support for young professionals with the newly-introduced Emerging Leaders Program, held last month in conjunction with the HFTP Annual Convention in Indianapolis — and also facilitated the popular HITEC Young Professionals networking event again this year in partnership with AAHOA.
We celebrated the influence, leadership and contributions of women in the hospitality finance and technology professions, with feature publications and networking events.
We produced another successful Club Summit, a tailored event that attracted its largest gathering of club professionals in Denver, Colorado back in April.
Reflecting our HFTP culture and values, it’s been a great pleasure to celebrate the following HFTP honorees and high achievers over the past year:
Alan Young, President’s Award
The 2023 HFTP Chapters of the Year: Maryland (A), Houston (B), Mid-Florida chapter (C), which also notably celebrated its 50th anniversary, and the University of Houston Cougars (Student Chapter)
On the road ahead and leadership:
I am delighted to report we’ve embarked on a comprehensive strategic planning exercise, the first in many years, which promises to be the most thorough. With the appointment of new Directors Asif Ehsan, Shannon McCallum, Tariq Valani and Robert Mandelbaum, as well as the appointment of Andrew Buwalda (previously a Director) on the Executive Committee, we’re in great shape to progress the agenda. Gratitude to HFTP Immediate Past President Mark Pate for overseeing the nominating committee process, and for a remarkable board appointee outcome.
To develop a pipeline of strong leadership for years to come, the Board has passed a rare update to the bylaws, ensuring the best-fitting industry leaders find a path to the highest levels of HFTP’s governance body. This is a legacy I am especially proud to have achieved together.
With Stephanie Anderson succeeding me as President (read her in-depth profile in the newly-released HFTP Women in Hospitality Finance publication), the board is truly poised for a productive and successful year ahead, and I look forward to supporting her.
To my fellow board members: Barry, Chris, Fitzroy, Jim, Jonathon, Justin, Katerina, Kelly, Mark, Mohammed, Stephanie, and Prakash — thank you for your engagement, enthusiasm and contributions. A special thanks to Art, Eileen and Andrew (reappointed as an Executive Committee member) for their unique and valuable insights over the past four years — the most challenging period in HFTP’s history. Lastly a big thank you to Mark for his tireless commitment, calm leadership style, and for always making time for me to share his experiences.
To Frank: it’s been fascinating to work as closely together as we did and hard to imagine a better way to get to know you and your amazing team. The many industry contributions, optimism, enthusiasm, and commitment to HFTP over three decades are impossible to match, and it is reassuring to know you will continue to lead HFTP into the future, with a freshly renewed agreement.
To the highly capable HFTP staff, who have supported me extensively over the past year with travel, data, scripts and patience: it is appreciated more than you can know.
To you, the members and stakeholders: thank you for your faith in us as we represent your interests.
To my advisors, supporters, and friends: for the positive energy and influence over the years, who have helped me uncover my confidence, values, and even the courage to go off-script occasionally.
To my family: the understanding and support you’ve given over the years has made all of this possible — I couldn’t have done it without you and I’m glad you could experience my HFTP world.
For the sticklers out there still reading this: no doubt I’m approaching my word limit, but I close with an important call to action — please consider getting involved with HFTP as a volunteer. There are many ways to make a difference, develop leadership skills, and find a renewed passion for our industry. Follow this link for more information, and feel free to connect with me directly or a fellow member who is involved. We’d be happy to share our experiences.
Thank you for your support, and I look forward to supporting Stephanie and the rest of the HFTP Global Board as Immediate Past President over the upcoming year.
Neil Foster, HFTP Global President #69
Read his past letters: