The Caribbean Hospitality Industry Exchange Forum (CHIEF) is generating a healthy buzz as it approaches its second conference slated for September 30 to October 2, 2016 at El Conquistador Resort, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, in Puerto Rico.
Karolin Troubetzkoy, President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), believes CHIEF is attracting attention partially because of the success of last year's inaugural event, and also due to the need for focused dialogue around key themes and issues that are of interest to Caribbean tourism industry stakeholders.
Dubbed "the most innovative, inspiring and action-oriented event for the hospitality industry in the Caribbean," CHIEF offers conference-goers a chance for dynamic engagement with tourism industry leaders, peers, suppliers and governmental entities.
Frank J. Comito, CEO of CHTA, which is organizing the conference, said he was encouraged by the strong indications of early interest in the upcoming event. "This buzz was created by participants and by the glowing testimonials of the major players who attended our first CHIEF last year," he said.
Feedback from participants at 2015's forum indicated that the event provided valuable experiences, education and insight.
Adam Stewart, CEO of Sandals Resorts International, recognized the hotel association's smart convening power: "CHIEF brought together in one location all of the quality people that make up, not only CHTA, but our hospitality and tourism industry."
Stewart also lauded the industry exchange forum for gathering the region's emerging leaders: "This conference brings together the next generation of Caribbean leaders, to discuss forward thinking topics that for many years people have been hesitant to discuss... to talk about our challenges and how we are going to overcome them."
Sessions at this year's conference will focus on Environmental Sustainability, Operations, Sales and Marketing, and Technology.
Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, Principal Partner of the Bedford Baker Group, and a highly regarded former Minister of Tourism for The Bahamas, valued the educational richness of the sessions: "The emphasis of CHIEF is exchange. It is what the event is all about. Exchange of information in the sessions, the round tables, one-on-one... You get to meet so many people in one place that it would be very expensive to meet individually."
Stacy Cox, Executive Director of the Turks and Caicos Hotel and Tourism Association, was thankful that CHIEF addressed key current concerns for the sector: "There are so many takeaways from this event. From strategic marketing initiatives, social media to customer service and retention. One of the most enlightening panels was the discussions on Cuba and its effect on Caribbean businesses. Listening to the panel I now understand it is a wonderful opportunity for the region, and an opportunity for us to deliver experiences as opposed to vacations. We all know Cuba has a huge cultural component to their destination. And now, we can all look at that as a best practice."
Participants from more than 25 countries are expected to attend the conference.