From the Again of Home to President of the HFTP: An Interview with Hospitality Chief Neil Foster

Neil Foster
  Neil Foster

At first – and even second and third look, Neil Foster’s profession within the hospitality business provides no impression of being an accident. As a substitute, Foster has spent the final quarter century making a major mark on the business whereas working with resort firms and know-how distributors to uncover higher methods of doing enterprise. And but, Foster himself would describe his introduction to the hospitality world as a cheerful accident.

What started with washing dishes and bussing tables later advanced into a task as an digital information processing supervisor. Since then, Foster has been on the helm of assorted hospitality manufacturers at transformative inflection factors. At the moment, Foster is the World President of HFTP, the world-renowned hospitality spokes group for the finance and know-how segments of the hospitality business. Bringing a holistic worldview that balances the wants of each hoteliers and distributors, Foster is poised to proceed his resounding impression on the hospitality business properly into the longer term.

With HITEC simply across the nook, I had the chance to take a seat down with Foster to debate the evolution of his profession, the wide-reading technological developments he’s witnessed (or been part of), and naturally, all issues HITEC Toronto.

Foster’s foray into the hospitality business started within the mid-’90s in a decidedly humble style. “My first jobs included washing dishes and bussing tables in Northwestern Ontario,” he reiterates. “As I look again, this early publicity to the business was the proper basis, because it supplied me a uniquely grounded perspective. I discovered early on that company and exterior viewpoints don’t at all times mirror the fact of the entrance strains.”

When requested what he loves most in regards to the business, Foster’s reply arrives with out hesitation. “It’s the individuals I like most about this business – and what’s saved me right here over time,” he shares. “It’s due to this that I’ve such an enthusiastic view of know-how. Once we discover platforms or processes that remedy issues and get rid of friction inside workflows, we’ve a significant impression on the individuals working inside the business. By embracing modern know-how that makes life simpler, we set up a greater employees expertise and assist our individuals deal with offering the absolute best visitor expertise.”

Foster grew to become an HFTP member in 2000 and pursued his CHTP certification in 2001. “One among my early bosses, the late Carl Johnston, took me alongside to an HFTP assembly within the early days; I felt instantly at house,” he explains. “The CHTP impressed a long-lasting reference to the affiliation and granted me additional alternatives to become involved with the councils, chapters, the board, and the chief committee over time.” Quick ahead to right this moment, and Foster has the glory of serving as HFTP World President for 2022-2023. “I’m deeply grateful and proud to serve the Affiliation as President this 12 months, following within the footsteps of the numerous wonderful leaders over HFTP’s 71-year historical past. I couldn’t do it with out the help and encouragement of fellow members, business leaders, and numerous colleagues, of whom there are too many to say right here,” he recounts warmly. “And from my earliest days within the business with Starwood, I need to attribute a particular acknowledgment to Kosta Tomazos, Carl Johnston, and Dave Norton (not with us), who at all times supported and inspired my involvement with HFTP within the early years.”

Foster notes that the development to HFTP president doesn’t occur in a single day – after time spent on the Government Board, the Government Committee time period spans 5 years. “Working with a various board of dedicated administrators and a succesful government workforce beneath Frank Wolfe’s management has made the transition into this function easy,” he explains, including that he has spent the previous couple of months refreshing his data on the various members and stakeholders HFTP serves. “It’s been a really optimistic begin to the time period as our business embraces the post-pandemic period, and I’m fortunate to be with out the numerous constraints my most up-to-date predecessors, Mark Pate and Michael Levie, needed to deal with. Michael and Mark have served HFTP as efficient disaster leaders, serving to hold issues collectively via the undeniably tough pandemic whereas concurrently working via unfamiliar affiliation developments. I really feel as well-prepared and supported as anybody can hope to be. I sit up for finishing up a profitable time period, along with an unbelievable Government Council, Board, and Government Group, in service to our members. It is actually an honor to serve, and I am grateful to be right here.”

When requested in regards to the latest transformation of the hospitality business, Foster aptly phrases it a “full-scale revolution” that has moved our deceptively easy, people-centered sector into a brand new period centered round know-how. “To say I really feel fortunate to be a part of this journey could be a gross understatement,” he shares. “As I bought began on this business area of interest, e mail and business web adoption have been solely simply starting, and an EDP (digital information processing) supervisor function had solely simply turn into a actuality for a 300-room resort.” In keeping with Foster, early assignments inside his EDP function which included “upgrading” the resort occasions logging course of (a giant e book) to an early S&C system, putting in a primary touchscreen POS system (Squirrel), and changing an growing older PMS answer (HIS) hosted on an IBM System 36 (with 10” floppy disks for backup) to Fidelio (now Oracle Cloud PMS).

“As know-how has advanced to span the breadth of all points of a resort’s operation, some organizations have elected to realign know-how (which is not a subset of finance) to make sure all the group’s wants could be served successfully and evenly,” Foster explains. “On this method, selections are much less prone to be made based mostly on price with out adequate session with essentially the most invaluable stakeholders – the customers. Moreover, we will lastly have an open dialogue in regards to the enterprise-wide dangers that hinge on considerate course of design (i.e., visitor information safety and safety). Through the years, I’ve seen an inclusive, rigorously managed, and consultative method results in the perfect know-how outcomes.” When you ask Foster, the success of know-how should be gauged by its capability to help optimistic human experiences.

Foster presently resides in Vancouver, BC, along with his household however spent lots of his early life in Toronto, which he nonetheless affectionately calls “the massive smoke.” He notes that town has a lot to supply – particularly in the summertime – making it the proper location for HITEC 2023. “It provides me nice pleasure to see HITEC in Canada once more, particularly in Toronto, the place I spent essentially the most early life of my profession with Starwood. I at all times consider Toronto as a uniquely welcoming place, the place residents from all over the world can embrace and have fun the perfect of their cultures with the assistance of festivals, cultural facilities, and a strong number of culturally-influenced eating choices,” he shares. “There are such a lot of issues to see and do within the metropolis, so make sure you take a look at solutions earlier than HITEC to get essentially the most out of your journey.”
Foster additionally notes that the final HITEC in Toronto in 2017 set an attendance file with over 6,500 attendees. Not solely that, however the suggestions was overwhelmingly optimistic. “To this point, HITEC Toronto 2023 is shaping as much as be one other nice success, with sales space gross sales 99% bought as of late April and registrations trending above regular,” Foster reveals. “I’m particularly excited to share {that a} stellar training program is coming collectively for this occasion, due to Shannon, Steve, the HITEC Advisory Council they co-chair, and Bryan and Allison on the chief workforce. Whereas we will’t let all of the “cats out of the luggage” simply but, we’re thrilled to announce a particular reception in honor of Ladies in Hospitality Know-how.” In keeping with Foster, HFTP is increasing on this theme by constructing a complete, data-driven profile of ladies main the best way in innovation.

“Ladies within the business with technology-connected duties are inspired to finish this survey for an opportunity to be highlighted alongside different feminine leaders within the business,” he provides. “I hope to see you all in Toronto for a HITEC you received’t wish to miss!

About Alan Younger

Alan Young

A seasoned enterprise and know-how visionary, Alan Younger is the Co-Founding father of Puzzle Associate, a number one advertising agency targeted on the hospitality and journey know-how business. He’s acknowledged for his provocative perception into how rising know-how impacts industries and the way leaders can higher join with their prospects and workers for sustained development. Alan additionally sits on a number of resort and journey know-how advisory boards and is understood for his capability to show tough ideas into easy-to-understand concepts that drive significant outcomes and actions.

He’s a revered thought-leader, battle-tested marketing consultant, mentor, and sought-after keynote speaker on the subjects of enterprise technique, development, transformation, and innovation. Alan focuses on rising enterprise consciousness and believes that all the pieces hinges on the ability of communication and efficient storytelling.

About Puzzle Associate

Puzzle Associate Ltd. is a advertising company targeted completely on complicated B2B initiatives for the journey and hospitality know-how business. We’re consultants at combining technique and tactical execution in a method that does not simply maximize an organization’s potential; it redefines it. By delivering influential content material, advertising companies, and public relations rooted within the expertise of our workforce and examined via real-world expertise, we assist our shoppers achieve visibility, increase their profile and finally enhance their gross sales revenues. We incorporate a holistic mix of paid, earned and owned media, together with inventive companies, into an built-in communications technique to drive model consciousness forward of rivals and ship impactful enterprise outcomes. To study extra, go to

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest Articles