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Digital Dynamos: HFTP Celebrates Women in Hospitality Tech at HITEC

Women at HITEC were buzzing this year! HFTP®, Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals, the organizers of the HITEC conference, which was held in Toronto in June, put women at the forefront. There were two initiatives that drew rave reviews, a special reception for women and a new data driven (natch!) report, 2023 Women in Hospitality Technology. We chatted with Eliza Selig, VP, Marketing and Communications, HFTP, to learn more about this successful effort to put the spotlight on women in tech.

    L to R     Michelle Young Katie Lee Jacqueline Norde Sherry Marek Lemia Marinelli Carla Waldron Berengere Brohan
HITEC Reception L to R: Michelle Young, Katie Lee, Jacqueline Norde, Sherry Marek, LemiaZahouani-Dollerup, Carla Waldron, and Berengere Brohan

What spurred this effort to focus on women at HITEC this year?

Actually, we re-energized a long-standing effort. Featuring the successful women in technology has been a focus of HFTP for some time, we did "Special Reports" in 2014 and 2019 for HITEC and in 2019 we had an event that celebrated women in the industry. The following year, the event was disrupted by the pandemic. For this year, we decided to return to the program with a Women in Hospitality Technology Reception and a new data-driven report.

It was also great timing because Sherry Marek, the co-founder of Datavision, was inducted into the HFTP International Hospitality Technology Hall of Fame this year. Established in 1989, she is only the sixth woman to be inducted out of 53 inductees. This is notable because I see the trend of primarily male inductees to the Hall of Fame turning, demonstrated by the fact that within the last six years three other women have been inducted. Sherry was a great figurehead for this year’s Women in Technology program because she is an active mentor to women interested in STEM careers. Extending her leadership, she also took a lead role at the reception and served as a moderator for the HITEC Headliner session leading a Q&A with a panel hospitality executives.

HFTP Women in Hospitality Technology Report 2023

You've been with HFTP for more than two decades, what changes have you seen for women in tech and why is now an exciting time?

While women have not traditionally been prominent in technology positions, that is changing as the use of technology has integrated with other hospitality roles (ie marketing, business intelligence, revenue management). Because of this, many women in these roles are taking the lead in how to harness current technologies to advance their goals. At the same time, there are quite a few accomplished women who have long been involved in the technology evolution. We saw an opportunity to highlight their roles in the evolution of the industry.

We heard the reception was amazing! Lots of opportunities for networking and learning.

Thank you, that's so great to hear. The buzz in the room was contagious with lots of conversations of women telling their career stories. The mood was really upbeat and everyone was mingling.

HFTP Women in Hospitality Technology Report 2023

Tell us a bit more about the first ever report on HFTP Women in Technology.

We believe the true value of an international association like HFTP lies in the sharing of individual experiences — as well as the knowledge and expertise gained along the way — for the betterment of a global, interconnected hospitality industry. With this in mind, our association has continuously sought ways to amplify the voices, share and celebrate the distinctive experiences of individual hospitality professionals, especially women: through editorials, leadership opportunities and valuable relationship- and knowledge-building events.

With that in mind, we constructed a comprehensive, data-driven profile of today’s women in hospitality technology. The goal of this profile is to help women at all stages of their career in hospitality technology gain valuable insights and boost their own career trajectory by learning from the industry’s top female executives. Where should they start? What positions can they aspire to? Which companies have demonstrated employment of women in high-level, decision-making positions? What life lessons can they glean from the women who have already seen it all? We surveyed over 105 women from all over the world, most (79%) have more than 16+ years of experience.

HFTP Women in Technology Report

It is a powerful asset to learn from those who come before us. We hope you are empowered by the information, advice and guidance provided by the women who participated in this profile.

Thank you, Eliza! Click to find full HFTP 2023 Women in Hospitality Technology report.


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