CEO of the Year - Texas
HFTP, founded in 1952 and headquartered in Austin, Texas, is the global professional association for financial and technology PROFESSIONALS working in hotels, clubs and other hospitality-related businesses. We spoke to Frank Wolfe, the firm’s CEO, who provides us with an insight into his role as leader of this dynamic and growing business.
HFTP provides first class educational opportunities, research, and publications to members around the
globe including, the premiere hospitality technology conference HITEC, which was founded in 1972. In addition, HFTP also awards the only hospitality specific certifications for accounting and technology -- the Certified Hospitality Accountant Executive
CHAE) and the Certified Hospitality Technology Professional (CHTP) designations.
The firm was founded in the USA as the National Association of Hotel Accountants, and has additional offices in Maastricht, The Netherlands, and Kowloon, Hong Kong.
My career with HFTP began in March 1991 as the association’s Director of Education. I became executive vice president/CEO of HFTP in 1994 and at that time was one of the youngest association CEOs in North America. In my current role as the spokesperson for HFTP, I frequently speak on hospitality finance, technology, social media and travel issues to varied audiences and have presented in more than 20 countries. I am also a regular columnist for Hotel Management and Hospitality Upgrade.
My main duties as a non-profit CEO are to pitch ideas to our Board of Directors and Members, let them choose the ones that they believe will catapult the organization/industry and then bring a consensus vision into reality for the global hospitality industry. To establish HFTP’s presence on a global stage involves relationships with many types of groups, including other hospitality associations, organizations, and even our competitors to work on professional educational opportunities in regions such as Europe, the UAE, Hong Kong and India. It is important to work with many types of organizations to understand the educational needs specific to the region and build our global network of hospitality finance and technology professionals.
Alongside these responsibilities I have been entrusted with far reaching projects that service not only our stakeholders but also the global hospitality industry at large. One example is a financial comparison database called the Global Hospitality Accounting Common Practices. The online tool allows users to learn and compare how full service hotels around the world structure their management accounts. Another large project is the development of Pineapplesearch.com, which debuted in October 2015. The site serves the global hospitality industry as a search platform for hospitality-specific industry information and intelligence. Pineapplesearch.com
centralizes highly fragmented industry information into a single and free-to-use platform which delivers relevant information to industry professionals, when and how they need it.
As a business HFTP works on large, big-idea projects that help support the industry. Beyond Pineapplesearch and GHACP, we have developed similar projects such as HFTP’s 20X series. These look at the impact of near-future technology. The series started as GUESTROOM 20X in 2006, which was a special exhibit of a model hotel room that displayed potential future technologies for a hotel guest room. The exhibit ran for several years at HFTP’s annual Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition and Conference (HITEC) – the world’s largest hospitality technology show. Currently on hiatus, it is set to return in 2017. Our latest program in the 20X series is Entrepreneur 20X, started in June 2015, a pitch competition that gathers innovative start-ups to pitch cutting-edge, transformative hospitality technology to an expert panel of judges. This program provides great value to the new companies as they get feedback directly from the industry practitioners.
All of these technology driven projects drive us towards our ultimate aim; to be recognized as the essential source on finance and technology for the hospitality industry. Alongside our numerous projects we also do this by supporting and producing education and research in these fields. In addition the firm produces several conferences throughout the year; hosts webinars; publishes a quarterly publication written by practitioners and academics; have two finance and technology specific certifications, and supports two Research Centres for custom industry studies. We also work with allied organizations in regions across the globe to share resources.
Currently the hospitality industry is dynamic and ever changing. There are always challenges that we deal with on a daily basis, lots of mergers and acquisitions, an influx of disruptive technologies, over regulation by some governments and under regulation by others, and security to name a few. One big advantage that we have over many other industries is that we are an extension of everyone’s home, and while some industries are shrinking, we either grow or remain static regardless of the economy.
Moving forward we are keen to expand. It is wonderful to have a constituency that is constantly asking for more products, services, and to please come to them globally. We are in the process of expanding into almost all of the continents of the world, which will provide us with a number of exciting challenges and opportunities.
Company: Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP)
Name: Frank I. Wolfe, CAE
Web Address: www.hftp.org
Address: 11709 Boulder Ln,
Ste 110; Austin, Texas 78726
Telephone: 1 (512) 249-5333