A Focus on Health & Safety While Leading the Return to In-Person Events
By Geneva Rinehart
May 18, 2020 – Amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP) announced last Wednesday during a press conference to industry media that the organization will consolidate its three major annual events to one location over a four-day period in October, and will call it, “The Best of HFTP.” Health and safety will take center stage, as the organization plans to set an example on how the industry will return to face-to-face conventions and networking in a responsible way.
HFTP’s three annual events will take place October 26-29, 2020, at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio. The HFTP Club Forum is slated for October 26, HITEC North America for October 26-29, and the HFTP 2020 Annual Convention for October 27-29, all in the same location, which is large enough to accommodate an expected 4,500 attendees and allow for current social distancing guidelines.
“The goal of HFTP’s Best series of conferences, including HITEC San Antonio, is to become the gold standard for a conference and tradeshow post COVID-19,” said HFTP CEO Frank Wolfe, CAE, FIH. “Like all hospitality enterprises and event hosts, we have limited funds but a great responsibility to our business partners, stakeholders and the industry.”
Safety measures will include mandatory mask-wearing, six-foot separation in education sessions, floor stickers to help attendees with social distancing, no-contact food and beverage service, and anti-microbial badges and lanyards. Outdoor spaces will be utilized as much as possible. Hand sanitation stations will be placed around the exhibit hall, and organizers are working with the City of San Antonio to provide temperature checks upon entering the convention center. “We are implementing the city’s best practices and attempting to take them to the next level,” Wolfe said.
HFTP announced that after moving the HITEC North America event from its traditionally June timeslot to October, 75% of exhibit space remains sold, with roughly 250 companies planning to exhibit. Wolfe also said that efforts have been made to increase traffic, such as combining events and forming alliances with other industry organizations. Organizers are forecasting approximately 4,500 attendees in October, which is a projected 30% decline from previous years.
For those who are unable to attend in person, HFTP is working with partners to offer a hybrid experience that would allow registrants to view some educational and general sessions online. Tradeshow exhibitors may have the opportunity to host virtual booths, complete with video networking and customer appointments.
For more information on The Best of HFTP, HITEC North America, HFTP Club Forum and the 2020 Annual Convention, please visit https://www.hftp.org/hospitality_conferences/.