2018 Sessions will be published in June.
Below is the 2017 Education Schedule.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

7:00 AM – 4:30 PM

Attendee Registration

Annual Convention attendees can register onsite at the Rotunda. 

8:00 – 9:40 AM

Ransomware: The Hackers View

Today’s attackers are becoming smarter and more efficient than ever before. They have said goodbye to the days where they spammed inboxes with counterfeit pleas for help and too-good-to-be-true discounts. Now they deploy new and ingenious attacks that destroy productivity and defraud organizations and their customers. Unfortunately, the hospitality sector is not immune. The threats from ransomware alone will continue to be troublesome for every organization. This session will walk through each phase of a cyberattack from conception and planning to execution and clean up. Learn concrete steps to protect your organization, reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) for IT systems and minimize opportunity costs.

Phil Hartlieb is principal security consultant at Black Lantern Security LLC.
Micheal Reski is principal security consultant at Black Lantern Security LLC

8:00 – 9:40 AM

Powerpoint and Presentation Skills

Have you struggled with presenting material in your career? Do you get nervous to present to clients or in front of colleagues? This task can be difficult for professionals at any level, until you have learned the necessary tips and tricks that will significantly improve your presentation. Learn how to present confidently, powerfully and more successfully. 

Joe Rembold is solutions architect manager at Appetize Technologies.

8:00 – 9:40 AM

Insurance for Clubs and Hotels: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

When should organizations be concerned about their cyber risk exposure? What are unique risks to hospitality organizations? Why are standard insurance policies not enough? What is the scope of today’s cyber coverage? How do organizations transfer cyber risk? With millions of cyberattacks happening each year, cyber insurance is a growing area of interest. This session will explain how to insure against new and evolving risks (including cyber), minimize the impact of rising workers’ compensation insurance and effectively budget for future insurance costs.

Moderator Larry Robbins is vice president at Brown & Brown of Florida, Inc.
Rick Thompson is vice president of claims and legal at Zenith Insurance Co.
Robert Wagner, CIC is executive vice president at Brown & Brown of Florida, Inc.

10:00 – 10:25 AM

Chip and Pin Technology

Chip and PIN credit cards, also called EMV cards, have an embedded microship on the card where an algorithm is stored. The chip card transactions are PIN-based for maximum security purposes. Chip cards tend to provide more peace-of-mind to users when traveling, as transactions with merchants that strongly prefer chip cards will be simple and secure. Learn the the requirements, costs and benefits of pin and chip payment card processing.

Eric Liebman is vice president of hospitality at Elavon.

10:00 – 10:25 AM


Who are prime ransomware targets? What is the traditional cyber-thieves’ next move? What should your organization do if it is subject to a cyber-threat? Recently, ransomware attacks have been becoming more common in the attacks seen by businesses. The main incentive behind these attacks are monetary value criminals can extort using the currency of Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency. Discover the history and rise of Crypto-Currencies, technical breakdown on how cryptocurrencies work, future of new cryptocurrencies, the development of ransomware attacks and best practices of defending against monetary driven ransomware. 

Micheal Reski is principal security consultant at Black Lantern Security LLC.

10:00 – 10:25 AM

Affordable Care Act Update

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), or “Obamacare,” was signed into law by former United States President Barack Obama in 2010 with the goal to reform the country’s health care industry. In recent legislation, proposals to replace the ACA have not seen success and the law is staying in place for now. This session will provide updates on any potential changes to the law as well as give a brief overview.

Amy Crawford is president at Crawford Consulting Group, Inc.

10:00 – 10:25 AM

Going Off the Grid – Is This the Best Option?

Using several persuasive techniques, social media makes us spend tremendous amounts of time navigating its network. We are exposing personal information while we communicate, share information and interact with each other through these platforms. Unfortunately, there are always hunters out there that are after personal information to steal both identities and possessions. Experts will reveal strategies and best practices that all social media users need to adopt in order to surf safely.

Cihan Cobanoglu, Ph.D., CHTP, professor at the College of Hospitality and Tourism Leadership at University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee.

10:35 – 11:00 AM

Short and Sweet Communications

The better your writing skills are, the better the impression you will make. The ability to express ourselves effectively when we write is recognized as being a vital business skill. Most professionals communicate extensively by writing: emails, letters, memos, reports, articles, papers etc. This is a must attend session for managers who struggle to write messages that their reader will immediately understand. Learn some new tips concerning business communications.

Vince Mennella is chief financial officer at Z Resorts.

10:35 – 11:00 AM


Recently, there has been considerable attention surrounding the issue of network security at hotels and resorts. These networks have been notoriously insecure, so hoteliers are stepping up their network security protocol. Firewalls protect networks from outside attacks, and one of the most critical pieces of your security infrastructure is deploying the right firewall. This session will provide a review of current features and the future direction of firewalls in hospitality.

David Johnson, CHTP is director of information and technology at WDI Hospitality, Inc.

10:35 – 11:00 AM

Global Hospitality Accounting Common Practices (GHACP)

HFTP has developed a unique resource that financial professionals, owners, investors and benchmarking information services can use to identify common practices for hotel management reporting and how they vary from region to region. GHACP provides a searchable database of detailed operating financial reporting practices used at lodging properties around the world, along with commentary and analysis from industry experts. This session will prove an overview of how the database was developed, the process used to collect the data and guidance on how to use it.

Arlene Ramirez, CHAE, CHE, MBA, CHIA is principal at ADR Hospitality Consulting.

10:35 – 11:00 AM

Are You Leaving Money on the Table?

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a federal tax credit available to employers who hire individuals from eligible target groups with significant barriers to employment. Each year, employers claim over one billion dollars in tax credits under the WOTC program. This session will review the basics of the WOTC, and provide an update on where it stands for 2017 and 2018. Learn how to collect the information and certification efficiently in-house to avoid additional accounting costs.

Krysta Erovick is vice president of finance at Discover Lodging Management, Inc.

11:00 – 11:20 AM

Table-top Exhibits & Beverage Break

11:20 AM – 12:10 PM

Critical Responses

Do you know what your organization would do in the midst of a crisis? The effectiveness of your crisis management program could determine the future of your business. Learn to execute a strategic plan during emergencies such as terrorist attacks, fire and other calamities. Listen to lessons learned from an attack at the Taj Hotel.

Karambir Singh Kang is area director of USA & GM Taj Boston at Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces.
Prakash Shukla is managing partner at Wayfare Vc.

11:20 AM – 12:10 PM

Strategies for the Overwhelmed

Feeling overwhelmed? You are not alone. On average, nine out of 10 Americans report feeling stressed whether related to work, home or both. Learn effective coping strategies that will help you successfully conquer stress-related challenges and build personal resilience to create the capacity to deal with the everyday life.

Patricia Fuller, Ph.D., is director of wellness engineering at Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners.

11:20 AM – 12:10 PM

Optimizing Revenue Through Data: Collection, Use and Pitfalls

This presentation will guide an operator through the many aspects of data within the organization, but especially the most effective way to capitalize on data to drive the bottom line. This will be achieved by breaking down data in the organization during its many phases with specific emphasis on collection, set-up and use.

Justin Pridon is vice president of consulting services at Revenue Management Solutions, LLC.

11:20 AM – 12:10 PM

Student Engagement – Developing Future Finance and Technology Leaders

Graduating college soon? Seeking a career path in the hospitality, technology or finance field? Beginning your career, and wondering how to succeed? Calling all students and young professionals – this session is for you! Get tips, advice and guidance from experienced and trusted industry advisers that will lead you on your own road to success. HFTP’s international network connects its members with top hospitality professionals across the globe with the intent of improving our industry by sharing wisdom, achievements and best practices. Students will gain insight on what opportunities are available in the current job market, what expectations employers seek when hiring new employees and how to successfully progress your career. You will not want to miss this.

Diego Gonzelez is director of finance at Four Seasons Hotel Miami.
Bradley Hayden is vice president of finance at Faena Hotel Miami Beach.
Muhammet Kesgin, Ph.D. is assistant professor at the School of International Hospitality and Service Innovation, College of Applied Science and Technology.
Linden Pohland is a student at Rochester Institute of Technology.

12:10 – 2:00 PM

Lunch with Tabletop Exhibits

Visit with exhibitors and colleagues in a networking style luncheon.

2:00 – 2:50 PM

Social Media Metrics for Finance

Social media is about numbers. Many people have programs but are not measuring the metrics over time. It takes time to understand what works and what does not work for your customers. The marketing ‘stories’ being created by your organization, and ‘stories’ being created by customers may vary. Do you know your ROI? Discover a number of social media metrics to watch, analyze and free tools to help you understand your trends. 

Sherry Marek is co-founder and vice president at Datavision Technologies, Inc. and a director on the HFTP Global board.

Sponsored by: PAS

2:00 – 2:50 PM

How to Build a Culture of Retirement Readiness in the Workplace

American workers are not saving enough to retire, and are simultaneously working longer than ever. What can your country club or hotel do to help? This session will share best practices of clubs and hotels with high 401(k) plan participation rates and high employee retirement-readiness scores. Learn how to get your employees to enroll in a corporate retirement plan, save enough to actually retire, invest their money appropriately and develop a simple financial plan to review regularly. 

Garrett Gardi is managing advisor at Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners.
Bryan Smith, CRPS, AIF, is director of retirement services at Naples Asset Management, LLC.

2:00 – 2:50 PM

Transitioning Between Hotels, Clubs and Vendors

Have you ever wanted to work in a different industry segment but were too scared to try it? This discussion will draw on the experience of panelists who have transitioned from CPA to controller, hotels to clubs, vendor to finance and even finance to general management. Come with your questions ready and learn how to advance your career.

Daniel Conti Jr., CHAE, CAM, is chief financial officer at Jupiter Island Club and an HFTP Global past president.
Lisa Funk-Martin, CHAE, is general manager at Yakima Country Club and an HFTP Global past president.
Stephen Robinson, FCA, CPA, is chief financial officer at Woodfield Country Club.
Thomas Smith, CHAE, is a controller at Imperial Golf Club and an HFTP Global past president.

2:00 – 2:50 PM

Reefer Madness: Legalized Marijuana and the Workplace
Florida’s Amendment II passed last November with more than 71% of the vote, legalizing medical marijuana use under Florida law. This presentation is intended to inform employers about their rights regarding employees’ legalized use of medical marijuana in and out of the work place.

Gregory Hearing is an attorney at Thompson, Sizemore, Gonzalez & Hearing P.A.

3:10 – 4:25 PM

Keynote Session: Cognitive Computing and the Digital Guest Experience

Cognitive computing, or artificial intelligence, has boundless potential across the travel and hospitality industry. We are just beginning to see the possibilities and the amazing things that we can do to take the guest experience to a new level. This educational session will take you through how cognitive computing can be used to make the personalization of the digital guest experience "real" from dreaming about a trip, throughout the journey and stay and beyond.

Greg Land is global segment leader of travel related services at IBM.

4:30 – 5:30 PM

HFTP Attendee Meetup

Join your colleagues at the hotel bar to talk about your day and make plans for your free evening. There's no agenda or formal program just another chance to connect with fellow attendees. 

4:30 – 6:30 PM

Chapter Leader Updates

Come meet with HFTP chapter leaders and hear about the services and resources HFTP Global provides to its chapters. Chapter leaders will share key chapter management issues and the Chapter of the Year Award winners will present best practices from their chapters.

Frank Wolfe is chief executive officer at Hospitality Financial & Technology Professionals (HFTP).