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Her future will be tougher than my past

29 November 2017
We humans have always dealt with new technologies, and for the most part, we have welcomed them because they have made our lives easier, better, longer, healthier, more enjoyable.... But 17 years into 21st century, the sheer pace of technological change is absolutely dizzying - and only likely to accelerate even more, causing disruptions and upheavals in every part of our lives. Perhaps more than ever before, tech driven advances are changing our economic structures, politics, and even society as a whole. Where is it all going? To bring this year's edition of The Hotel Yearbook to a fitting close, Carson Booth shares his thoughts on this fascinating - if not a little intimidating - question.

Personal data, privacy and identity

21 November 2017
The collection of personal data is inherent to the hotel industry; it is what allows us to tailor guest experiences, market our hotels effectively, and foster long-term loyalty. The EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into force soon, and it has the potential of turning all of this, and more, on its head. Alvaro Hidalgo walks us through the enormous challenges, and even posits a solution.

Harnessing technology for a competitive advantage

13 November 2017
The role of the hotel IT manager is evolving, writes Neil Foster. Today he or she is as an internal consultant and educator who makes sense of the "noise", a connector who seeks to understand the needs of the people and processes involved. Central to the hotel operation in terms of influence, the new role is more business analyst operating at the forefront, less technician working behind the scenes.

Will Blockchain Technology put Airbnb, Expedia, and Priceline out of business?

Article by Frank Wolfe

12 July 2017
Here are some of the points that the industry audience should find useful:What is Blockchain Technology (BT)?"The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value." Alex and Don Tapscott.Both Don and Alex have been keynote speakers for HFTP previously and both received excellent reviews. But there is a lot of information in that one sentence. In an attempt to interpret the statement for our industry, the following is offered:Picture if you will that you are the CXO of a major travel enterprise with thousands of spreadsheets containing thousands of financial transactions that are duplicated at each one of your locations. Then picture that the decentralized network is designed to regularly update the all of the spreadsheets at all of the locations. This is the basics of a blockchain.Is BT something for hospitality to be concerned about or is it just another Y2K?BT is actually the technology behind cryptocurrency (altcoin), the most widely known of which seem to be Bitcoin, and Ethereum. It is real, "in play" and it is something people are already spending billions of dollars on. But, it is highly controversial and has generated a firestorm of headlines...good and bad.Since HITEC Toronto,HFTP has been contacted by a lot of industry VIP's who want to be involved with us because they believe its impact is going to disrupt the industry. Conversely others VIPs in the industry were totally unaware of BT and some contacts have said BT is like Y2K.So with that disclosure, according to a recent interview published in SKIFT (www.skift.com), Fritz Joussen, CEO of TUI Group says "It will be very difficult for intermediaries to have sustainable business cases. These platforms [travel intermediaries] build reach by spending billions on advertising, and then they create monopolistic margins on top of what they have as sales and marketing. They do offer great sales and marketing. Booking.com is a great brand, but they create superior margins because they have monopolistic structures. Blockchain destroys this." Later in the same article, Joussen goes onto explain that his vision of blockchain was a key reason TUI sold Hotelbeds last year for $1.2 billion, moving TUI out of the role of business-to-business intermediary, which he believes blockchain can easily replace.Will BT put Airbnb, Expedia, and Priceline out of business?Research would indicate that if BT catches on as predicted it will change the business model of anyone in the transaction business. But unless these companies don't adapt to the market, they are not going to go away. The good news, unless you are an intermediary, is that anytime that a customer and supplier can cut out all or part of an intermediary in the transaction process should increase money in one or both digital wallets. HFTP is a small company and our transaction fees for currency conversion and credit card processing are HUGE...imagine if your enterprise could erase even a fraction of these due to BT.Another benefit to BT is that it is continually updated, reconciled, and stored in decentralized locations. This makes records transparent and auditable because the transactions cannot be changed in just one place and the network has to "agree" to changes. If this proves to be true, hacking will be virtually impossible.Why is HFTP creating an industry Task Force and what is it going to do?One of the things that makes HFTP a bit different than most people realize is that we represent a very wide group of verticals. These include entities that provide a hospitality experience to its guests, members, or visitors, by providing lodging, food/beverage, recreational and tourism services at establishments such as clubs, hotels, motels, resorts, casinos, restaurants, recreation facilities, tourism, cruise lines, community associations and theme parks. This is a big responsibility for HFTP. According to our bylaws, we "provide leadership in the establishment and enhancement of hospitality accounting, financial management, and information processing practices and standards." Leading the industry to determine BT impact on our industry is right in line with what our members envisioned 65 years ago when we were founded.The mission of the BT Task Force is to study the topic and help HFTP's defined industry make their own decisions on how it will impact the industry and how we should respond to this new technology.How can I get involved in the industry's BT Task Force?If you are interested in being considered for our BT Task Force, please email your interest to blockchain@hftp.org. Volunteers should be prepared to attend at least two in person meetings annually and have employer time and financial support. For those who are unfamiliar with HFTP, we are a global nonprofit hospitality association that uniquely understands the industry's problems. We are recognized as the spokes group for the finance and technology segment of the hospitality industry. HFTP assists our members in finding solutions to industry problems more efficiently than any organization via our expert networks, research, conferences such as HITEC, and certification programs. HFTP has several thousand stakeholders across the globe. Through our HITEC brand, we also assist both members and stakeholders in deal facilitation.

Hospitality industry expansion is being fueled by alternatives

28 December 2016
The hospitality industry is undergoing seismic changes with consolidation and disruption. Prakash Shukla believes the industry is at a crossroads of significant disruptive changes, being driven by new business models and technology. He outlines the macro environment driving the industry, some recent transactions and then possible opportunities particularly in hospitality space. Clearly, before asset allocation, one needs to have deep domain expertise, he believes. It is only then that one can identify opportunities where new processes, models, technologies can be used to access new markets, inculcate efficiencies, or create a complete new paradigm shifts.

HFTP and HTNG, Old Commentary and New Horizons...

Article by Frank Wolfe

1 October 2015
Now that summer has officially ended, many of us begin some serious travel to industry events. Just a few weeks ago Hospitality Upgrade hosted their annual CIO Summit, which gave me the opportunity to spend some quality time with HTNG's (Hospitality Technology Next Generation) new CEO, Mike Blake. For those of you who may not recall, HFTP was one of the first supporters of HTNG when it was created in 2002 at HITEC. Mike and I have been industry friends for a long time and one of the events held at the summit was a sailing regatta competition and it just so happened we were assigned to the same team. We worked very hard as a team, but despite much effort our group was voted "most likely to sink" and came in dead last. It's a good thing our groups didn't hire us for our sailing skills!On a more serious note, it is no industry secret that over the last few months there have been numerous conversations about the competitiveness between HFTP and HTNG. To me these have been caused by both organizations doing a better job of educating their members about their respective associations and the increase of social media use. One commentary which has surfaced is that HFTP is doing the industry a disservice because of its recent announcements to produce HITECs in Asia and Europe, and CIO Forums outside North America. Some say the industry does not need more conferences or tradeshows and that other organizations have things covered.While I can only speak on behalf of HFTP, we have had many successes since our 1996 HFTP Board of Directors decided we would become the global group speaking for hospitality financial and technology professionals. So here are some points illustrating our operations related to the aforementioned commentary:Like any business, albeit nonprofit, HFTP's Board of Directors and staff have done due diligence to do our best to make sure HFTP events are successful. Although there are no guarantees, HFTP began laying the groundwork for these events around the year 2000 at the request of members in the industry.These requests are so frequent, that they have been brought up at almost all of our planning sessions. Since the announcement was made in July 2015 about our plans to create additional meetings, HFTP has entertained proposals in the double digits for involvement, sponsorships, and groups who want to share our profits (or risks). One of HFTP's new forays internationally produced more than 100 CIOs of companies that were not on the regular radar of the North American based conference circuit and is creating an excellent format for "sellers" to network with them. So, while there might be too many conferences, it would seem that there are not too many good networking conferences with both "buyers and sellers."Since 2002, the association has produced more than 25 conferences solely produced by HFTP outside the USA and Canada. These include events in China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, UK, Netherlands, the Caribbean and soon to be India. In addition to these self-produced events, HFTP has either planned or co-produced a minimum of an additional 40 events outside of North America. HFTP produced events where attendance ranged from 75 to just under 500 attendees. Currently, HFTP has offices and staff members in Hong Kong and The Netherlands. By the time of HFTP's upcoming CIO Forum in India, we will have a third staffed office outside of North America. HFTP welcomes collaboration with other industry groups for our non-North American events. just like we currently do at HITEC. Like any business though, these collaborations are made to enhance the product and the players usually bring resources that are not currently available at the table.HFTP is a professional association that exists to assist the individual member. Our value proposition is that we are a global nonprofit hospitality association that uniquely understands the industry's issues. We assist our members in finding solutions to industry problems more efficiently than any organization via our expert networks, research, conferences such as HITEC, and certification programs. HFTP has more than 5,000 members and several more thousand stakeholders across the globe. HFTP is recognized as the group speaking for the finance and technology segment of the hospitality industry. We have chapters throughout the world, representing hotels, clubs, restaurants, resorts and casinos. The chapters embrace both "buyers and sellers" of products, with "sellers" helping participating in chapter activitiy and on our Board of Directors. We often assist in bringing other offerings to the industry. For example, HTNG was formed (at HITEC with the support of HFTP) to facilitate the development of next-generation, customer-centric technologies to better meet the needs of the global hotel community as a trade association. With that said HFTP is not a trade association like HTNG, which represents the enterprise, not the individual, and that is not something HFTP intends to do.I want to reiterate a couple of points about the HTNG/HFTP relationship that might have gotten lost "in the weeds." HTNG was created at HITEC with the support of HFTP. From its inception, HTNG was created to fill a need that was not being addressed by the industry. Because HTNG is a trade organization made up of a majority of vendor/supplier members, HFTP provided them a forum, exhibit space and education session opportunities to market the organization. Over the years, HFTP has maintained that support. During the recent HTNG CEO search to identify the successor of HFTP International Hospitality Technology Hall of Fame member Doug Rice, HTNG leadership contacted me to discuss my opinions of HTNG and my comments were accepted graciously. During HITEC 2015, HFTP sponsored an event attended by both HFTP and HTNG Board of Directors to honor Doug Rice. In late August, HFTP hosted HTNG at our offices in Austin and it was a very productive meeting. It is my opinion that HFTP and HTNG both do a great job in working towards making the industry better together.In summary, HFTP and HTNG are two organizations that have powerful members that operate in the same space. Sometimes we compete, sometimes we share, and sometimes we concentrate on our own mission statements independently. The areas where we compete only make our organizations better and the areas where we share makes the industry better.Until next time.........

Introducing the GHACP

12 October 2014
a tool that uses cutting-edge technology to provide users a way to compare global accounting practices. Delivered as an interactive web site, the GHACP is a searchable database of detailed operating financial reporting practices used at lodging properties around the world, along with guidance on industry standards, and commentary and analysis from industry experts.

Keeping a property at the ready

9 September 2013
Frank Wolfe, CAE, head of the HFTP, advises hoteliers on how to maintain a safe and at-ready environment: with an informed and trained staff, a thorough crisis plan and the use of accessible technologies.

Tribute to HFTP Global Past President, Fred Beck, CHAE

Article by Frank Wolfe

3 May 2013
Fred joined HFTP (then the National Association of Hospitality Accountants) as a very young man. During his 40 years of HFTP membership, he served on many committees, task forces, office moves, and even governed during the then contentious name change to our current HFTP. These were very turbulent times in our association history and as Global Past President Wendy Zurstadt, CPA, CHAE said, "Fred was always the voice of reason."When I first became CEO, Fred was on the Executive Committee. It was a time of great change during his five year term. In just a few short years, HFTP grew by about 30 percent, changed its name from the International Association of Hospitality Accountants (IAHA) to HFTP, moved our headquarters, changed our association management system from an old IBM System 36 to a Windows based product and started our first web site, which made us one of the first associations in the world to adapt the World Wide Web as a mechanism for communicating with its membership. I will never forget the board of directors meeting where we debated the issue of purchasing Internet access for all of our chapters and building a web site. One of our directors banged his fist on the table and said, "We cannot do that! This Internet thing is just a fad and a waste of money!" Fred, who was not presiding, very diplomatically proceeded to convince the Board that this was a strategic decision that he was convinced we needed to make. And we did! You can actually still see that web site here.Fred was always very well dressed and distinguished looking. During his presidency, HFTP was first starting to expand globally. Fred and I traveled to Nice, France to attend a competing hospitality technology conference (which has since gone out of business). During the visit, one of our colleagues became very ill with stomach flu, so Fred volunteered to venture out with me to visit a French speaking pharmacy for some medication. Of course, neither of us spoke a bit of French and I still laugh when I think about distinguished Fred miming being sick to his stomach and making funny sounds with several French women giggling behind the register... who then spoke perfect English to us.Fred was always dedicated to HFTP, but he was also dedicated to his family. During his presidency we would make appointments to talk about HFTP business. Normally, these would be at 9:00 p.m. at night. Why? Because he went home from work, had dinner with his family and then did his volunteer work.People who know me in the industry know that I love HFTP and will either retire or get "asked to leave." With that said, I did almost quit once...Fred Beck at AC2011 HFTP Past President Fred Beck at the 2011 Annual ConventionLuckily for me, it was during Fred's term. In addition to being my boss, Fred was also a great mentor. My issue, which was really more of a young ego thing than a problem, was still considered very carefully by Fred. We talked over a week's time and of course, his mentoring brought me to my senses.At HFTP's 2011 Annual Convention in Atlanta, Fred and I were talking about some of the things that had happened and all the success that the association has had due to our members' good efforts. During that conversation, he kindly thanked me for allowing him the chance to convince me to stay with HFTP. Of course, it is me who owed him the great debt, but Fred was too much of a gentleman to ever broach that topic!Michael Horrocks, CHAE, another Global Past President, who if I remember correctly was Fred's original member sponsor, is the one who notified me via e-mail that Fred had passed away. I know that both of us needed the technology and more than a few minutes to think about what Fred meant to us... it was such a sad moment. During my professional career to date, I have only had a few other moments like today and they are always painful when you lose someone whom you care about. To name a couple, one was when our beloved HFTP Global Past President Terri Rubin Bartello passed away and another was when my fellow Paragon Award winner Stephen Doherty, CHAE, CHTP passed.Upon reflection, I think that Global Past President Agnes DeFranco, CHAE said it best when talking about Fred, "Heaven gained another angel yesterday who is now watching over his loved ones." Fred passed away as a loved, respected and admired father. He touched many people in a positive manner and made a difference in the world. What more could a person want to accomplish?Because of my Christian Faith, I believe that good people like Fred, Terri and Stephen go to heaven. Knowing Fred, he is smiling down upon us and trying his best to help Terri and Stephen organize all of the hospitality finance and technology professionals up there into the HFTP-Heavenly Chapter. May they all rest in peace.Details regarding the memorial service for Fred Beck are below. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to www.youcaring.com/beckSaturday, May 4 at 4:00 p.m.Johns Creek Baptist Church Chapel6910 McGinnis Ferry RdAlpharetta, GA 30005Reception immediately following

Safety in your hotel is about communication

Article by Frank Wolfe

29 April 2013
In doing so, I went online and found that the average time it takes to pick a home lock is between 5 and 30 seconds, which I thought was pretty fast! Anyone with a credit card that will work can buy a nice set of lock picks that vary from $5 to $300. (Although one website insisted that I agree not to use them in an illegal manner.) Further research uncovered something called a bump key that you can either make (search "bump key" on YouTube and you'll find a "how-to" video with more than two million views) or easily purchase online. It will purportedly open about 90 percent of home locks. With statistics like this, a home lock does not seem to be very useful.During my career, I have probably spent between 3,000 and 5,000 nights sleeping in hotel rooms. Typically, there are security personnel on duty, cameras, emergency lighting and quite a few other things in place that make me feel quite secure. While I have never had a dangerous experience in a hotel, I have had my home burglarized. So, for me, I feel as secure at hotels as I do at my house.As members of the hospitality industry, our goal is to offer a great experience. We advertise great food, service, comfortable accommodations, value and cutting-edge technology. Our competitive edge also requires us to work harder because it sets us apart from the "home" experience. Another resource that we can provide our guests is a subtle reminder that hotels are primarily public places and that they should exercise some caution. During staff training or daily meetings, remind bellman to tell guests to use the security latch when inside the room, or reminding them to keep their room number confidential. These are great ways to help keep your property safe.Technology is a great tool to have but it still takes a human touch to maximize it. At least so far!

Investing in Your I.T. Employees' Futures Benefits You

Article by Lyle Worthington

20 June 2012
One of my personal philosophies is never stop learning. Learning something new means moving forward. It is equally important that the people who work with and for me continue learning and growing as well. It is extremely motivating to work around people who are all investing in, contributing to and believing in what they are doing. Everyone benefits from the positive attitudes, and poor performers stick out like a sore thumb. When a company embraces a learning environment and managers encourage growth and development of top performers, job satisfaction and job performance will go up. Some companies may worry that employees will demand more money or leave the company for a better opportunity. This is certainly a possibility, but as your employees become more valuable to you, they will be more valuable to others, so if you don't provide them a path to grow within your company they might seek that path elsewhere. Even if that does happen, you still benefit from their additional knowledge and new ideas while they're with you, and possibly even after their departure.Click here to read full article

IT Security: Application Security

Article by Lyle Worthington

4 November 2011
It also presents a challenge for your users; users are forced to remember multiple logins and passwords for different applications. Some may require a password change periodically. Inevitably, passwords fall out of sync, changed passwords are forgotten and frustration abounds. This is a problem we all face in some way, primarily because many of our vendors do not support external authentication. It is for that reason that little discovery was used to determine what it would take to provide a consistent password for my users across all applications, securely updating all application passwords whenever a user's domain password was changed or reset. After speaking with several departments it was learned that users were already doing this manually, so it seemed worthwhile to investigate automating it. What was found was very troubling.Click here to view full article

Virtually Avoiding IT Disaster

Article by Lyle Worthington

1 June 2010
Business Continuity PlanningDeveloping a business continuity plan is critical for ensuring that, should a disaster occur, your business can return to normal quickly with the least amount of interruption and data loss as possible. Business continuity planning should cover much more than just your servers, software and PCs, as a recovery from any sort of disaster would most certainly affect the entire organization. For the purposes of this article, however, I will be referring only to the backup and recovery of your servers and data.A good business continuity plan (BCP) starts with a risk assessment. How much do you stand to lose (financially, operationally via productivity losses, long term via drop in customer perception, etc.) every second that a server or application is unavailable? Where are all of the points of failure in your server room that could cause a significant outage? Your goal is to design a solution that mitigates these risks while keeping the cost of the solution low enough to justify the expense, based on probability that the disaster will occur.Not every server or application will need to be restored immediately or with zero data loss. You are planning for recovery from a complete disaster, so you should think about this as not just a typical backup and restore plan. Some applications can stay down, some can run on slower hardware with fewer people accessing them, and some will need to be up immediately on comparable hardware with no data loss. These are all factors to consider when you do your risk assessment and write your BCP.At one extreme you could have an exact mirror of your data center in another location (or several locations). The hardware might be different, but there would be enough of it to bring your entire environment online immediately with a minimally noticeable performance drop. You might even be load balancing between the data centers. This is the most expensive way to do it, but provides the most redundant system. At the opposite extreme, you might just back everything up to tape and put the tapes in a lock box off property. In this case, if your server room explodes, you would have to procure all new equipment, get your backup tapes and slowly rebuild everything- losing any data that had changed since your last backup. Downtime could be days or even weeks.Click here to read the full article

Shifting To Virtualization

Article by Lyle Worthington

1 November 2009
In the old model, if you lost a resource you might impact one application or one user. Now losing one resource could mean many people and many applications are affected. Your backup and disaster recovery strategy for each individual server might not be sufficient for this new model, as the slightest problem can have a much farther reaching impact. Each resource must now be given more priority and be more extensively monitored and backed up. Similarly, your IT staffing model might be as streamlined and efficient as possible in your current environment, but might be lacking necessary skills to properly set up and maintain a virtual environment. Virtualization is not just a project or a small change; it is a complete shift not only in hardware and software, but in thinking as well.Shifting Your InfrastructureWhen moving to a virtual environment you are taking a distributed set of resources and centralizing them. To understand fully what that means, let's consider a few simplified examples of the different types of virtualization.Storage Virtualization. Data sets that used to be distributed among multiple physical servers and hard drives are all loaded on a centralized device (such as a storage area network or SAN) that different servers can access. You can even boot your servers from a SAN so you no longer need dedicated hard drives in your physical servers.Click here ro read the full article

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