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2019-2020 HFTP Global President Michael Levie, CHTP

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November 11, 2019


HFTP International Hospitality Technology Hall of Fame inductee to lead the association

This November, hospitality technology innovator Michael Levie, CHTP, COO at citizenM Hotels, is taking on the position as the Global President for HFTP. Over the next year, he will lead the association in building on its tech-focused education and resources, along with numerous other initiatives for the association.

Embodying the spirit of ingenuity, Michael’s commitment and creativity have made him one of the most important figures in the world of hospitality. A true innovator, Michael saw opportunities to take the guest experience to a new level through the use of technology. The risk associated with stepping out of a recognized brand, Sonesta Hotels, to establish a completely new hotel experience at citizenM did not hold him back. Today, citizenM Hotels, of which Michael is a founding partner, are truly revolutionizing the way technology is used in the hospitality industry. There are 19 in operation with 22 more on the way.

Michael’s innovation is only part of his contribution to the hospitality industry. His passion for sharing ideas and nurturing the leaders of tomorrow characterizes his influence as an industry leader. Michael’s active participation on the HFTP Global Board and Executive Committee,has further illustrated his commitment. He helped HFTP develop its first European event, EHTEC in 2006, where he also was a speaker. And now he is actively involved with HITEC Europe as a member of the advisory council and as a presenter.

When he first became an HFTP member in 2006, the association did not have much of a presence in Europe. Despite that fact, Michael continued his connection with the association and he joined the HFTP Global Board in 2013 to provide a broader, international perspective to the expanding association. When asked about his decision to join the board, Michael said, “Hospitality is a global trade and with HFTP spreading its wings, the opportunity presented itself to bring a global perspective to the board. I see it as a great honor to oblige.” Now as he begins his term as HFTP Global President, Michael discusses his role in helping HFTP meet its strategic goals, as well as taking the association into the changing digital landscape. 


What are some initiatives you are looking forward to working on during your term as HFTP president?
HFTP has been an incredibly steady association through its nearly 70-year history, and yet has seen some major changes over the past few years. HITEC has expanded internationally, providing HFTP the ability to grow as an organization and its membership. HFTP’s core U.S. membership basewill always be the highest priority for the association, but as the world becomes even more interconnected, sharing knowledge and information from many other influences seems important and fruitful. HFTP newly-acquiring the copyright to the Uniform Systems of Accounts for the Lodging Industry (USALI) is another major change. Worldwide use and reach to almost every hotel in the world presents a new opportunity for the association. As president, I hope to contribute, along with the HFTP Global office team members, by presenting these initiatives at the highest quality everyone expects from HFTP. At the same time, the association is poised to take full advantage of these new global connections.

Day-to-day life and the world around HFTP are also changing at a quick pace. Digital has become the norm, and so HFTP leaders are asking how HFTP values will carry out in the next 20 or 30 years. Probably, HFTP benefits and services will be offered in many different ways and knowledge-sharing and connections will grow differently. Knowing this, I believe in the coming year HFTP will have to make many important strategic decisions and look at transformational change instead of following evolution. As president I will try to be a voice of reason while challenging the new.

In an ever-busier world, time is the most valuable commodity to us all. Fortunately HFTP works with numerous allied partners to help the association meet its strategic goals, which is crucial. Groups like HTNG, AH&LA and HSMAI come to mind, but also many other smaller and regional associations are beneficial to HFTP going forward. Working closely and tightening cooperation will form part of our future.

As a technology professional, how has being a member of HFTP supported you professionally?
We all have the tendency to learn most from those we respect and share knowledge freely. The HFTP membership is comprised of the most incredible individuals, that over the years become friends who unselfishly share and assist each other. My knowledge compared to most is still very modest, but I have learned 99 percent of what I know through HFTP friends. So the question is not how HFTP has supported me professionally, but has it has been instrumental and at the base of it all. The answer is yes.

What are some technologies that are changing the industry? What are some issues of top concern?
Hotel technology is still dominated by the “PMS,” a room-centric system. The new world of development and systems rightfully shifts it to guest-centric. The room- to guest-centric marriage has not been fully successful yet. Middleware is providing an outcome and will lead us to data-based decision-making and connect with the extreme guest personalized services that will be required from our industry. Not putting the guest at the center of all decisions will lead to more disruptions in hospitality, like what the OTAs and new lodging have done.

How will you navigate as HFTP president?
HFTP is home to many and has such a rich diversity of members, knowledge and offerings. As in every family, sometimes there is some friction or even irritation between siblings, which doesn’t mean we don’t love each other. Financial and technology professionals are closely dependent on each other, yet serve a common, but slightly different purpose to our companies’ successes. Hotels and clubs look a lot alike, and yet are very different. This at times is also the cause of friction and sometimes irritation, and yet we all love and are at home in our HFTP family. Serving all members, along with Frank Wolfe and the HFTP Global staff, in the coming year as president won’t be an easy task. But knowing, understanding and loving our common values “facts” will hopefully lead to future possibilities for all. You can count on my full attention to brokering commitment to outcomes to these new possibilities and realize an even better version of HFTP for all of us in the future. 

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