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Who Should Attend Industry Events?

A Divide And Conquer Approach Can Benefit The Entire Team

Tuesday, June 13, 2017
Mr. Larry Mogelonsky - P. Eng.
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Hotel tradeshows and conventions are an excellent opportunity to keep pace with all the latest products, news and concepts in our ever-evolving industry. There are many such events happening on a year-round timetable and all around the world, so much so that you could hypothetically spend every week in another city and at another hospitality conference or symposium.

Practically, though, you hardly have the time to attend more than five of these events each year, and a ‘divide and conquer’ approach would work even better. That is, by sending various associates and senior executive team members in your place, the learnings and career development is spread across the entirety of your team so that you can all grow together as a pseudo-familial and highly ingenuous unit. And in the modern workplace, team engagement and ongoing training are tremendous factors towards keeping your brightest employees from jumping ship, thus leaving budget for these outings is critical lest you lose your star performers.

The two most pertinent questions then are what shows to go to and who to send where. The shows worth attending will depend on your specific situation, but please recognize that it is both a privilege to go and learn as well as a burden in terms of expenses and lost productivity. As for answering the second question, to be as blunt as possible and oblivious of any internal property politics, the people who should go to these events are the ones who sign the checks—owners; asset managers; general managers; managing directors; resort managers; operations directors; directors of sales and marketing; and any other senior executive.

For niche conferences dealing with specific topics, other positions may be more appropriate for attendance, so it is a matter that must be treated on a case-by-case basis. To help explain my rationale for why the top brass should plan to go, let’s look at one example for a show that I’ve long held in high regard—HITEC—which is conveniently taking place in my hometown at the end of the month.

Your first thought for an electronics convention like this is probably that you should send your IT manager so that you can let techies talk tech, trusting that your team member will adequately discern which systems and hardware will seamlessly integrate with your current operations for minimal costs. However, technology is so embedded in our guests’ daily lives these days that it is no longer a case of what’s easiest to apply and far more about what will most effectively improve the guest experience, whether it be a boost to your online interface, onsite features or customer preference tracking, otherwise known as customer relationship management or (CRM).

Having a deeper understanding of how technology can now be leveraged to heighten the end-to-end guest experience—and thereby increase revenues—is now a critical skill for every senior manager. A convention is not only a good place to recruit vendors who can help in this mission, but also a time to bring your team leaders up to speed. Hence, the job of attending conferences that can educate on this matter simply cannot be delegated to those middle-rung team members who aren’t thoroughly versed in how any expenditure will serve the big picture.

This isn’t to say that a person from the IT department can’t also attend as an auxiliary support in order to ask the more technical questions, but given how inherently flexible new software and hardware are, these inquiries can often be more efficiently resolved through a series of follow-up phone calls once a top-level decision has been made as to where to devote the coming year’s resources. That’s just HITEC, and undoubtedly other conferences and conventions can be given a similar rationale for why the captains of the ship—or those who have the ambition to one day become a captain—need to attend.

Regardless of who attends what event, this all presupposes the fact that you have allocated budget for attending conferences including airfare, hotel rooms, rental cars and entrance fees. So maybe the first question you should ask is whether or not you can afford to go in the first place. If not, why not? Continual learning is an important aspect of your job and there’s no better place to grasp new industry concepts than at a conference or tradeshow with your peers.

Larry Mogelonsky P. Eng.    Mr. Larry Mogelonsky - P. Eng.
Managing Partner, Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited
Owners, Principals, or Partners
LMA Communications Inc.

Bio: One of the world’s most published writer in hospitality, Larry Mogelonsky is the principal of Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited, a Toronto-based consulting practice. His experience encompasses hotel properties around the world, both branded and independent, and ranging from luxury and boutique to select-service. Larry is also on several boards for companies focused on hotel technology. His work includes four books “Are You an Ostrich or a Llama?” (2012), “Llamas Rule” (2013), ...
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