July 21, 2024

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Travel Finishes First

Ode to a Retiring Colleague

Ode to a Retiring Colleague

Ode to Carl Weldon

One of the advantages of working in the hospitality industry is you meet lots of interesting people. Sometimes those people influence your life for a second or the length of a job or, if you are lucky, for a lifetime. For me, Carl Weldon has been and will continue to be a lifetime influencer, personally and professionally. It is regrettable that at the end of this month Carl is retiring, causing HFTP to lose a great team member and the industry (at least full time) a paragon.

Carl Weldon and I first crossed paths in 2005 when he became the CEO of what was then the British Association of Hospitality Accountants (BAHA), which is currently the Hospitality Professionals Association (HOSPA). Working with Carl was a bit of a challenge at first, because he was an oxymoron to a “good ol’ boy” from East Tennessee in America.

Carl was a very good accounting professional, intelligent and celebrated in the industry, but he just did not have a good grasp of English. We would swap stories about our associations and he would say strange things like, “HOSPA has many bees surrounding the honey pot.” Not understanding at first, I learned he meant HOSPA was becoming successful and competitors were cropping up. He would refer to his friends with multiple names like “Wayne-Really” instead of just Wayne who really, really, loves his wife “Mandy Lunch Tongue Elvis” and his mother-in-law, Yvonne, as the Queen who is actually a spitting image of Queen Elizabeth. Every time we would have a couple of pints, he would always tell me what I understood to be that he was getting mad at me and leave (those who speak the King’s English will understand).

Ultimately, we grew to understand each other and became good work friends. On a personal level, his wife Maddy really helped my new wife Emily understand the expectations of an association CEO partner. For those who have never had the opportunity to meet Maddy, she is the secret sauce to Carl’s success. I would be remiss not to mention in writing my admiration for her influence on Carl as a mentor, partner and sounding board.

When an opportunity occurred to poach Carl away from HOSPA in 2016 and have him join HFTP as our European COO, the decision was quick. With the support of the HFTP Global Board of Directors, Carl joined the team and earned one of his prize possessions, a lime green HFTP staff polo shirt, the uniform for his first HITEC.

Carl has contributed to much of HFTP’s success since he joined our team. Just a few of the highlights are:

  • Captaining the first HITEC Europe in Amsterdam in 2017, with follow-ups in 2018 in Amsterdam and 2019 in Mallorca, Spain
  • Recruiting and leading the team of experts for the HITEC Europe Advisory Councils who would oversee the programming for these events
  • Hosting and organizing the first-ever European Hospitality CIO/CFO Summits, and many similar events in the region
  • Helping to organize the European editions of HFTP’s Entrepreneur 20X start-up technology competition, held in conjunction with HITEC Europe
  • Chairing (on behalf of HFTP Europe) the online Bench Event “HOSPITALITY TOMORROW – TechTalks,” which had for its time historic attendance of over 550 attendees.
  • Quickly pivoting at the start of the pandemic to develop and hold the popular virtual HFTP Europe Hangouts as a source of discussion and education for members and stakeholders. This included a series of five sessions in Spring 2021 designated as HITEC Europe. In all, Carl helmed 34 sessions over 14 months.

Carl and Maddy are planning to travel and enjoy more time together during retirement, enjoying their sons, their friends in the copse, and making their garden a greatER place. One specific trip that is on the radar is a trip to Bangkok, Thailand. But the good news for the industry is that Carl MIGHT take some consulting assignments if Maddy allows it. 

HFTP is a better association by Carl’s involvement and “honey butter” will be surely missed. Thank you for joining HFTP, thank you for your mentorship and thank you for your dedication. Godspeed, Carl. 

HFTP Europe will have a meeting on October 26 at the citizenM London Tower.  The program will include conversation on industry updates, cocktails and a fond farewell to Carl. If you’d like to join us, visit here for details and to RSVP.

Frank Wolfe, CAE, FIH

Frank Wolfe ([email protected]) is chief executive officer of Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals.