We have already secured an excellent speaker line up for the 5th annual Hotel Data Conference and will continue to add more leading up to the conference. The Hotel Data Conference website will be continuously updated as more information becomes available, so please check back often. Please direct all other inquiries to HDC@str.com.
Randy Smith - Chairman and co-founder, STR - In 2011, Mr. Smith was inducted into the Hilton Hospitality Hall of Honor, along with his wife Carolyn, named one of the “Twenty Five Most Influential Executives of the Business Travel Industry of 2011” by Business Travel News and was the recipient of the 2011 Lodging Hospitality Magazine’s Stephen W. Brener Silver Plate Award. In 2010, he was awarded the ALIS Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the lodging industry. Mr. Smith was a 2007 inductee to the Florida State University College of Business Hall of Fame. He is a member and past co-chairman of the Industry Real Estate Financing Advisory Council (IREFAC) and the 2002 recipient of the prestigious IREFAC C. Everett Johnson Award. He is also vice-chair of the American Hotel & Lodging Foundation Funding Committee. Mr. Smith is a charter member of the International Society of Hospitality Consultants (ISHC) and a former member of the board of directors. He was the recipient of the 1996 Industry Pioneer Award of the ISHC for outstanding contribution to the lodging industry. Mr. Smith is a regular keynote speaker at the major industry conferences.
Amanda W. Hite – President, STR- As President, Mrs. Hite sets company policy and direction while overseeing daily operations. In addition, she coordinates initiatives and implementation for STR's Family of Companies: HotelNewsNow.com, based in Cleveland, OH; RRC Associates, based in Boulder, CO; STR Analytics, based in Boulder, CO; and STR Global, based in London, UK. Mrs. Hite is a member of the Board of Directors of the US Travel Association. She also serves as a member of the Hendersonville Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Prior to joining STR, Mrs. Hite was the Director of Research for the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. She is a graduate of Birmingham-Southern College with a B.S. in Business Administration. She resides in Hendersonville, TN with her husband and two children.
Adam Sacks – Founder and President, Tourism Economics – Tourism Economics is an Oxford Economics company dedicated to quantitatively-based consulting to the tourism sector. Over the past sixteen years, Adam has worked with hundreds of tourism destinations and companies around the world. He is an authority on measuring the economic impact of tourism activity–both for the broader visitor economy and for specific events and investments. He has conducted a broad range of analysis of tourism investment policies, the effects of proposed entry procedures, tourism taxation, and destination marketing strategies. He has provided numerous destinations with analysis on market positioning and emerging opportunities. Adam has advised multi-national hotel chains, airlines, aircraft manufacturers, theme parks, resort developers, and retail operators on current and future market opportunities. He regularly presents to corporate strategic planning teams on the threats and opportunities facing their businesses within the projected travel and economic climate. Adam is a frequent conference speaker on issues related to tourism market analysis, the economic impact of tourism and travel-demand forecasting He also has presented tourism impact results to governments around the world. He is a member of the US Department of Commerce Travel &Tourism Advisory Board.
Adam Zembruski – President, Pharos Hospitality – Pharos is a developer, franchisee, owner and operator of upscale and upper upscale hotels. Adam leads all operating entities at Pharos including development and acquisitions strategy. He started his career as a front desk agent in 1993 at Foxwoods Resort Casino in his home state of Connecticut. After 5 years at Foxwoods, he worked his way up and down the east coast holding almost every hotel property level position with Hilton, Marriott, IHG and select management companies, including numerous General Manager positions. Prior to starting Pharos Hospitality with CEO Buddy Watson, he was a regional operations director for Hersha Hospitality, where he held full P&L responsibility for 23 upscale select service hotels located between Northern New Jersey and Atlanta, GA.
Alise Deeb – Senior Vice President, Revenue Management – La Quinta Inn & Suites - With more than 25 years of hospitality experience, Alise Deeb is responsible for the strategic development and implementation of La Quinta’s pricing strategies including measurement and training. She oversees the Revenue Management teams for the brand’s corporate-owned and franchised hotels along with directing the Data Services department. Leading an initiative to simplify demand-based pricing by offering value with rationale rates versus discounting, Ms. Deeb worked with technology vendors to provide strategy for their products used to support pricing that mirrors other consumer products. Before joining La Quinta 12 years ago, Alise worked for Starwood, Omni Hotels and The Ritz Carlton. She holds a Bachelor of Science in hospitality administration from Missouri State University and belongs to Hospitality Financial & Technology Professionals (HFTP) and Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI).
Alison Hoyt- Project Manager, STR Analytics - Ms. Hoyt earned her bachelor’s degree from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and graduated with distinction. As Project Manager for STR Analytics, she focuses on using Excel modeling techniques to design custom data dashboards for clients, as well as supporting data analysis across the team. Ms. Hoyt writes articles for Hotel News Now and assists with new report development.
Alissa Ponchione – Copy Editor/Reporter, HotelNewsNow.com - Alissa Ponchione handles the daily copy editing duties at HotelNewsNow.com. Additionally, she writes articles and handles columnists. Before joining the HotelNewsNow.com team, Alissa worked at a nightclub and bar industry trade publication. She is a graduate of American University with a master's degree in literature. She also graduated from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University.
Bobby Bowers - Senior Vice President, STR – Mr. Bowers oversees all aspects of STR client services and sales efforts. He is often the keynote presenter at international, national and regional industry conferences. Mr. Bowers has over 25 years of global lodging industry experience. He has a broad background which includes strategic marketing, industry analysis and product management. Prior to joining STR, Mr. Bowers was Director of Competitive & Industry Analysis for Holiday Inn Worldwide.
Brad DiFiore - Managing Partner, Ailevon Air Service Consulting - Ailevon is focused on assisting communities with air service recruitment and retention. Specifically, Brad helps communities develop strategies to obtain new or improved air service, forecasts new route opportunities, and identifies regional traffic and revenue leakage. He also works extensively as a liaison between airlines and communities. Prior to co-founding Ailevon, Brad was Director of Airport Consulting Services at Sabre Airline Solutions. Brad began his aviation career with Delta Air Lines. At Delta, Brad was responsible for relationships between the carrier and airports and communities worldwide. Brad has long been a featured speaker at airline industry conferences, including the American Association of Airport Executives National Air Service Conference, the Airports Council International-North America Air Service Data and Planning Seminar and the Network USA Route Planning Conference. Brad holds a BA in Business Administration from Michigan State University.
Brad Garner- Chief Operating Officer, STR - Brad Garner is responsible for managing and directing the day-to-day activities of STR’s core business operations. He is a primary contact for STR’s data partners, customers and the investment bank and institutional investor communities. He is a frequent speaker at industry meetings and conventions and is a regular contributor to various news and media outlets.
Mr. Garner, originally from Atlanta, GA, earned his bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Old Dominion University. He currently resides in Nashville, TN, with his wife and daughter. He enjoys baseball, water sports and is a loyal supporter of Georgia Tech basketball.
Brian Gilchrist – Executive Vice President, Good Hospitality Services Incorporated - Presently, the GHS portfolio consists of 24 properties throughout Indiana, Michigan, Iowa and Florida, representing all major brands within the Select Service market. Mr. Gilchrist brings 25 years of hotel experience, having started as a desk clerk in the Economy segment and working his way through several operational roles at full service, luxury, and resort properties. More recently, he has held key corporate operational roles within management companies to include President, having dealt with both private and public REITS.
Brittany Baldwin - Director of Business Development, Destinations, STR - Brittany is responsible for leading the growth & business development of STR’s destination market for North America focusing primarily on providing a full service solution experience for all destinations hotel research needs by developing STR Family of Companies package options. Brittany works closely with CVB’s, DMO’s, & other destination related organizations. Brittany is often featured as a guest speaker for industry presentations. She is a council member of the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Under 30 Gateway, a member of Women In Lodging, Women In Tennessee Hospitality, Tennessee Hospitality Under 30 Gateway, and more.
Brittany is a graduate of Tennessee Technological University (TTU) with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing. She resides in Tennessee with her husband.
Brooks Moore- Chief Financial Officer, Innisfree Hotels - Brooks Moore joined Innisfree Hotels (Pensacola, FL) as Chief Financial Officer in 2011. He has an extensive background in corporate and commercial real estate finance. He began his professional career in 1998 as an underwriter with Zions Bank’s National Real Estate Group and was subsequently promoted to Director of Business Development for Texas and Oklahoma. While employed by Zions Bank he underwrote or originated over 250 hotel loans. Between positions at Zions Bank, Mr. Moore was employed as a publishing securities analyst by investment banking firm, Friedman Billing Ramsey, where he covered high yield bonds and entertainment/leisure equities.
Caitlyn Milton-Business Intelligence Manager, STR Analytics – Mrs. Milton graduated from the University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management with a degree in Hospitality Management and won the 2011 Fractional Industry Strategy Business Plan Challenge at the International Hotel Investment Forum in Berlin. Mrs. Milton played a key role in the research and publication of the U.S. Comp Set Study and continues to manage the HOST Program, the annual collection and analysis of nearly 6,000 U.S. hotel operating statements.
Carter Wilson - Director, STR Analytics - Carter has over 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry, consulting for over 17. As Director of STR Analytics, Carter is part of a team whose goal is to find new ways to analyze STR data and bring more meaningful results to his clients, including developing new subscription-based reports, new hospitality metrics, and new data-modeling technologies. Prior to joining STR Analytics, he has performed appraisal and consulting assignments for over 3,000 hotels, resorts, casinos, conference centers, and golf courses in all 50 states and abroad (Mexico, Canada, Greenland, the Caribbean, and Israel). He served as Senior Vice President of HVS, where he co-managed the day-to-day operations of the office and developed complex appraisal models to appraise large hotel portfolios. He is a graduate of Cornell's School of Hotel Administration.
Chad Church- Vice President, Operations, STR – Mr. Church manages the client service, trend, special projects, and CVB/DMO operations at STR. In addition, he leads internal process improvement initiatives and special projects for consulting, investment, government, and corporate hotel clients. He is a regular speaker at industry meetings and conventions and is a frequent contributor to various news media outlets.
Mr. Church earned his Master of Science degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Economics from North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Charles G. Pinkowski – Founder, Pinkowski & Company – Mr. Pinkowski has over thirty years of experience in the hospitality industry both in the field of consulting and national chain hotel development. Since creating his Memphis based company in 1987, Chuck has provided consulting assistance for his clients in 44 states. This consultation includes development planning, investment analysis, market feasibility studies, chain/brand evaluations and litigation assignments for a variety of issues. Clients who seek consulting assistance from Pinkowski & Company include financial institutions, hotel companies, management companies, investors, attorneys and real estate investment trusts. Chuck has been involved in the evaluation, planning and development of destination resorts, convention hotels, conference centers, extended stay lodging facilities and limited service hotels. The consultation and advice provided by Pinkowski & Company is objective, candid, and to the point. It is based on comprehensive research and analysis and many years of experience in the hospitality industry. A graduate of Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Chuck is a member of the American and Tennessee Hotel and Lodging Associations and the founding chairman of the International Society of Hospitality Consultants, an organization of over 180 professionals worldwide providing professional consulting to the hotel industry.
Chris Crenshaw - Vice President of Strategic Development, STR - Mr. Crenshaw is responsible for new product development and strategic integration for STR family of companies. He brings a wealth of knowledge to the table with over fifteen years of revenue related hospitality experience. Mr. Crenshaw’s extensive wisdom of the industry is put to good use as he is often used as a sounding board for new ideas and provides training and education to the staff.
Prior to joining STR, Mr. Crenshaw served as Vice President of Market Intelligence for Loews Hotels and held several senior revenue related positions with Marriott International. He received his bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management from Florida International University and an associate degree from the Culinary Institute of America. Mr. Crenshaw has received numerous awards and accolades from Loews and Marriott and most recently was named 2010 Revenue Management Professional of the Year for South Florida by HSMAI. He currently serves on the America’s Board for HSMAI and is a Certified Revenue Management Executive (CRME). He currently resides in Nashville with his wife and two children.
Chris Klauda – Vice President Lodging Research Services, D.K. Shifflet & Associates, Ltd – Chris has worked in the lodging market research industry for over 25 years and leads the DKSA lodging research group. Her expertise is in syndicated and custom consumer market research as well as consulting with clients on research application in marketing decision making. Chris is the primary methodologist for DKSA’s custom lodging studies. She has used consumer market research in brand positioning, market sizing, amenities selection, purchase behavior, room décor, and long term planning strategies for major hotel companies. Chris is an author and lecturer on marketing and trends in the travel industry with recent focus on Millennials and the use of social media by travel consumers. She speaks at national conferences and at hospitality schools throughout the US. She is frequently quoted by major publications and the trade press. Chris holds a BS degree in Business Administration from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.
Craig Greenberg – Founding Partner, 21c Museum Hotels – Mr. Greenberg currently oversees the daily operations of the company, as well as the development and financing of new properties. Greenberg’s involvement with 21c started with his efforts to structure and source the financing for the Louisville property, which included funds from federal, state, and local incentive programs, as well as traditional construction financing and equity. Prior to joining 21c, Greenberg was an attorney with Frost Brown Todd. Among other responsibilities there, he managed an ancillary business dedicated to securing and deploying New Markets Tax Credits.
Greenberg is on the University Of Louisville Board Of Overseers and the Board of Directors of Republic Bancorp (NASDAQ: RBCAA). Greenberg earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Michigan before attending Harvard Law School and graduating cum laude.
Danny King – Editor, Travel Weekly - Danny joined the Travel Weekly staff as its hotels editor in 2011 after freelancing for the publication for three years. His previous staff-writing experience includes three years as a consumer reporter for Bloomberg News and three years as real estate reporter for the Los Angeles Business Journal. He’s also written as a freelancer for publications such as Daily Variety, Edmunds.com, Nation’s Restaurant News and AOL DailyFinance.
David Tarr - Senior Vice President of Real Estate and Development, Hyatt Hotels Corporation - Mr. Tarr is responsible for overseeing new hotel development, acquisition, franchise and management contract transactions for Hyatt’s full-service brands (Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, Grand Hyatt, Park Hyatt, and Andaz) in North America. Prior to joining Hyatt, David’s 10-year career at Marriott International included a variety of Development and Asset Management positions. He was most recently Senior Vice President of Development, overseeing Marriott’s full-service hotel development activity in the Eastern Region of the United States for its Marriott, Renaissance and Ritz-Carlton hotel brands. A 25-year industry veteran, David’s previous hotel real estate and development experience included tenure as a hospitality industry consultant, providing hotel market, feasibility, and appraisal advisory services to property developers, owners, and lenders, as well as corporate development with Extended Stay America. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, and is based at Hyatt’s corporate headquarters in Chicago, Illinois.
Debra Bates – Chief Financial and Development Officer, Dolce Hotels and Resorts - Debra, a longtime Dolce Hotels and Resorts executive, is responsible for North America acquisitions and development, corporate finance, risk management, treasury and accounting and reporting. She has held roles of increasing responsibility since joining the company in 1996. In 1998 she was named Senior Vice President of Acquisitions and Development. She was promoted to Chief Financial Officer in 2000, to Chief Investment and Financial Officer in 2006 and now serves as Chief Financial and Development Officer. Throughout her career in finance, acquisitions and development in a variety of real estate sectors, she raised capital and managed transactions for hospitality, office, retail and multifamily properties and companies totaling more than $1 billion. Bates earned a master’s in business administration degree in finance and international business and a bachelor’s degree in economics and managerial studies at Rice University's Jesse J. Jones School of Administration in Houston.
Dennis Nessler – Editor, Hotel Business Magazine – Mr. Nessler has covered the lodging industry for better than 10 years now as part of his more than 21 years of experience in trade journalism. In his position, Dennis covers all aspects of lodging, both writing and editing news stories for the magazine as well as items for HotelBusiness.com, the publication’s website. Dennis is also a Contributing Editor for Hotel Business Design, a sister publication of Hotel Business specializing in hotel design.
Dev Koushik – Vice President Global Revenue Optimization – InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) – Mr. Koushik has more than 10 years of experience in the field of Pricing and Revenue Management in the travel and transportation industry. In his current role, Dev is responsible for design, development, delivery, execution and measurement of Revenue Optimization strategies and systems along with improving the Revenue Management business processes with advanced analytics. Prior to joining IHG, Dev served as a Scientist in PROS Pricing and Revenue Management, where he designed innovative Pricing and Revenue Management solutions for airlines and car rental companies. Dev earned his Master’s in Industrial Engineering at University of Florida and Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering from College of Engineering, Guindy, Madras.
Duane Vinson- Assistant Director, STR SHARE Center – Mr. Vinson joined STR in 1997 and serves as the Assistant Director of the SHARE Center, a program that in cooperation with EI (American Hotel & Lodging Association Education Institute) and ICHRIE (International Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education), works with hospitality and tourism schools around the world to provide thorough and timely data for academic research and to provide comprehensive and relevant training materials for the classroom.
Over the years he has been involved in many areas of operation at STR including Data Operations, Business Development, and Client Services. Most recently as head of the STR Database Operations Center tasked with building and maintaining STR’s global lodging census databases of planned and existing hotels. Mr. Vinson is often requested as a guest speaker at hotel company conferences, local, state and national lodging and tourism conventions and as a guest lecturer with hospitality and tourism programs at universities around the country. He is often quoted in leading trade publications and news sites such as HotelNewsNow, Lodging and leading news media to include the Chicago Tribune, Miami Herald, New York Times, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal.
With a genuine interest in tourism research, he serves on the Board of Directors for the International Travel and Tourism Research Association (TTRA). He has previously been the Vice President, President and Chairman of the Southeast States Chapter of TTRA (SETTRA). Mr. Vinson has also served on the Allied Advisory Council of DMAI (Destination Marketing Association International). Prior to joining STR, Mr. Vinson was with Hyatt Hotels & Resorts. He has a BSBA in Marketing from the University of Louisville and currently resides in Hendersonville, Tennessee, with his wife and has three grown sons.
Edward Perry, MBA - Global Senior Director of Social Media, Online Travel Agency Partnerships and Innovation Projects, Worldhotels – Mr. Perry manages global social outreach for Worldhotels and a team of social media professionals in the USA, Germany, and Singapore. He also oversees strategic alliances globally between online booking and technology partners and Worldhotels' portfolio of over 500 properties worldwide. Edward’s more than two decade experience includes working with Global Fortune 500 companies including Macy’s. Edward is a Secretary on the Board of the Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association (HEDNA). He pens EyeforTravel’s Social Media and Marketing column. Edward is also the Co-Chair of Online Revealed, Canada’s largest digital marketing and social media conference. Edward has spoken at industry conferences around the globe, including EyeforTravel, STR Global, and Federated Press. His sessions also included speakerships at New York University Stern School of Business and University of Southern California (USA), Universitat de Catalunya (Spain), George Brown College and Ryerson University (Canada), among others. He’s also appeared as a social media expert in CNN Asia and VFM Leonardo, the world’s largest online distributor of digital content for the travel industry. Edward holds an MBA in Global Business Management from the University of Phoenix and a double Baccalaureate in German and International Relations from Schiller International University in Heidelberg, Germany and Madrid, Spain.
Ed Watkins - Editor at Large, HotelNewsNow.com - Ed Watkins is editor at large of HotelNewsNow.com, a division of STR. Before joining HotelNewsNow.com, Ed was editor of Lodging Hospitality magazine, a Penton Media publication. He joined Lodging Hospitality in 1974 and was named editor in 1980.
Ed often speaks and moderates at industry events, including the NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference, The Lodging Conference, the Hunter Hotel Conference, Vantage Hospitality’s Annual Conference and others. He serves on Real Estate Advisory Board of The School of Hospitality Business at Michigan State University and the Advisory Board of the School of Hospitality Management at Penn State University.
Elizabeth Randall-Winkle- Managing Director, STR Global – Elizabeth Randall-Winkle is Managing Director for STR Global Limited. Prior to being appointed Managing Director, Elizabeth had been Director of Operations for the company with responsibility for operations and client relationship management. Elizabeth is active in the industry, speaking at international conferences and participating on panels at various events. Elizabeth was invited to take part in the Dean's Distinguished Lecture Series (DDLS) at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration (SHA) in 2011 and at Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL) in 2012.
Elizabeth joined STR Global from the financial services industry, having served as Interim President/CEO for Pasadena Federal Credit Union in California after previously serving as Vice President, Member Services for the $120 Million organization.
Elizabeth is a 2007 recipient of the World Council of Credit Unions’ (WOCCU) Young Credit Union Professional Award and represented the organization on a Cooperative Learning Tour in Ecuador. In 2006, she was honored with the Callifornia Credit Union League’s Tomorrow’s Star award.
Elizabeth holds a bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University.
Erich Jankowski – Senior Director, Corporate Revenue Management, Host Hotels & Resorts – Host Hotels & Resorts is the largest lodging real estate investment trust and one of the largest owners of luxury and upper-upscale hotels. Erich has over 15 years of revenue management experience and is responsible for providing strategic leadership to over 100 hotels. Erich joined Host in 2004 and helped establish the revenue management group, built systems, and created reporting tools. Prior to joining Host, Erich worked for Marriott International for 14 years in various revenue management and operational roles.
Jan Freitag - Senior Vice President, Strategic Development, STR - During his 10+ year tenure at STR , Mr. Freitag has overseen a variety of projects, all charged with the accumulation and interpretation of global lodging data. Mr. Freitag is a frequent public speaker and in 2012 delivered 45 presentations at, among others, the American Lodging Investment Summit, Hunter Investment Conference, Global Spa Summit, Mountain Travel Symposium, and numerous brand, owner, HSMAI and GBTA meetings.
In addition, he is a trusted source for industry insights, quoted in trade publications and the general news media such as The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Bloomberg, etc. He also writes a quarterly blog on USAToday.com.
Prior to joining STR, Mr. Freitag was the Director of Content Integrity at hotelreports.com in upstate New York and a hospitality consultant with Ernst & Young in Phoenix.
Mr. Freitag holds a Bachelor Degree, with distinction, from the School of Hotel Administration, Cornell University, where he lectures frequently, and received his Executive MBA, with honors, from Vanderbilt University.
He is a member of the advisory board for STASH Rewards, the independent hotel loyalty program.
Mr. Freitag resides in Nashville, TN, and plays basketball every Saturday (when he is not on the road).
Janine Driver- President, Body Language Institute - JANINE DRIVER is the New York Times Best Selling author of YOU SAY MORE THAN YOU THINK (Random House), and most recently YOU CAN'T LIE TO ME (HarperOne), popular keynote speaker, media expert for NBC's TODAY Show, 20/20, CNN, and the Dr. Oz Show, and she's the founder, president, and lead instructor for the Body Language Institute (BLI). BLI is an elite certification program that offers award-winning advanced communications training that help executives and professionals build executive presence, explode their selling skills, and create and deliver business presentations that win new business. Janine and her team of the world's most sought after subject matter experts have helped clients become the total leader, which ultimately led them to win millions of dollars in new business contracts.
Janine's background includes being a federal law enforcement officer within the United States Department of Justice for fifteen years, where she trained over 60,000 lawyers, judges, and law enforcement officers within the ATF, CIA, FBI, and the Netherlands Police how to read body language and detect deception. Each week, Janine travels the country providing sales training to her clients, who include such companies and associations as AOL, Coca-Cola, Proctor and Gamble, Lockheed Martin, The Hard Rock Hotels, Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Meeting Professionals International, ABC Supply, and the Certified Contractors Network - just to name a few! In addition, Janine is an approved speaker for Vistage, a worldwide leadership company that help senior executives, who make over ten million dollars, take their careers-and their companies-to a higher level!
Jason Freed – News Editor, HotelNewsNow.com- As News Editor, Jason influences and guides the content creation for HotelNewsNow.com. He researches and writes in-depth, multi-sourced stories that lead the publication. Jason has been reporting on the hotel industry for six years after spending the previous five years in the newspaper journalism field. He has won several awards for his writing and is a graduate of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Kent State University.
Jeff Higley – Vice President Digital Media and Communications, HotelNewsNow.com/STR/STR Global - Jeff Higley is a 25-year journalism veteran who has specialized in the hotel industry for the past dozen years. He launched HotelNewsNow.com, a division of Smith Travel Research in September 2008. Prior to joining HotelNewsNow.com and Smith Travel Research in March 2008, Higley served in various leadership positions for Questex Media Group’s Hotel & Motel Management. Mr. Higley began his career in the newspaper industry and worked as a sportswriter for several medium-sized Midwest newspapers, covering everything from high school basketball to the World Series. Mr. Higley and his wife, Cheryl, have three children: Sarah, Emily and Isabella reside in Avon Lake, Ohio.
John Burkard – Vice President, Distribution & Technology, Vantage Hospitality Group - John oversees Vantage’s distribution efforts for the Americas Best Value Inn and Lexington by Vantage brands. His responsibilities include ensuring that Vantage brands have a strong distribution presence across all electronic channels (brand.com, voice, GDS and OTAs), as well strong representation within the groups, FIT/Wholesale and corporate segments. He manages online marketing efforts for the brands as well as technology related initiatives. Prior to joining Vantage in 2006, John served in technology-related roles with Marriott International, MyTravel Group and Lodging.com/Cendant. He is a graduate of The University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce with a B.S. degree in Marketing and Management Information Systems.
John Fareed, MSc ISHC CHME – Principal, John Fareed Hospitality Consulting LLC - Mr. Fareed is an internationally recognized authority in the field of hospitality marketing, and has spoken on the topic at industry events in Brazil, Croatia, Egypt, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, United Kingdom, and across the US, Canada and Caribbean. Fareed has appeared as an expert on national television programs including ABC News, CNN and Fox News Network, in publications such as the New York Times, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal, and has had articles published in numerous trade journals. Fareed holds two postgraduates including a Master of Science degree in Hospitality Management from the Dublin Institute of Technology's School of Hospitality Management and Tourism in Dublin, Ireland, as well as professional desginations from the prestigious International Society of Hospitality Consultants [ISHC] and the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International [HSMAI]. HSMAI recognized Fareed as one of the “Top 25 Extraordinary Minds in Sales and Marketing”, and he currently serves on the Board of Directors for ISHC and the Board of Trustees for HSMAI’s International Foundation. Fareed is a frequent lecturer at some of the world’s best hotel schools including the Institut de Management Hôtelier International at the École Supérieure des Sciences Economíques et Commerciales, one of Europe's preeminent business schools, in Paris, France. He is also a published author. Fareed’s new book “From Invisible To Icon—How To Become An Expert In Your Industry” is available via Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com or your favorite bookseller. Prior to his career in hospitality marketing, Fareed spent fifteen years as a professional magician performing on cruise ships, in casinos and at private clubs such as the famed Magic Castle in Hollywood, California. He also served six years in the US Marine Corps Reserve, from 1981 until he was honorably discharges in 1986.
John Greenleaf – Global Head, DoubleTree by Hilton Hotels - In his role, Greenleaf is responsible for the strategic direction and vision of a fast-growing collection of upscale, full-service hotels and resorts, which today features more than 325 locations on five continents around the world, represented by more than 65,000 team members and serving more than 25 million customers annually. During his two-year year tenure with Hilton Worldwide, Greenleaf has held several strategic and managerial positions that leverage his strong expertise in developing, operating and growing hospitality brands. Most recently, Greenleaf served as vice president – global brand performance support for Hilton Hotels & Resorts, where he was responsible for leadership and direction of brand support operations for the brand’s more than 550 hotels in 80 countries around the world. Greenleaf began his Hilton career as vice president – global brand marketing for DoubleTree by Hilton, where he oversaw advertising, visual identity, public relations, social media, online marketing, brand partnerships and promotions and hotel marketing communications support. Greenleaf is an accomplished team builder who has led the growth and development of some of the best recognized global brands across multiple markets and categories. His hospitality experience includes roles as vice president of brand management for Sheraton Hotels, vice president of marketing for Renaissance Hotels, project leader for Ritz Carlton Hotel Company's customer information strategy and director of marketing for Courtyard by Marriott. As senior vice president of marketing for Century 21, Greenleaf led the world's largest real estate franchise organization to five consecutive years of record sales and profit by reorganizing, selecting, developing and leading an expert team of 30 marketing professionals and 10 agencies. During his tenure as chief marketing officer at Financial Times Search, he built an expert team of senior marketing and sales professionals and agency partners for an array of consumer technology solutions. Greenleaf earned a Master of Business Administration degree from The Amos Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Dickinson College, graduating magna cum laude. He also studied at the University of St. Andrews. Originally from Pennsylvania, Greenleaf enjoys classic cars, golf and spending quality time with his wife, Anne, and their two children.
John Rosen- Managing Director – Investment Management, RockBridge Capital, LLC – Mr. Rosen guides the oversight of RockBridge's investment portfolio to assess risk, ensure the security of the collateral, and enhance the value of these assets through performance analysis, capital investment, and close coordination with RockBridge's operating partners regarding execution of each business plan. John has over 19 years of experience in the hospitality industry. Prior to joining RockBridge, he was Senior Vice President at Destination Hotels and Resorts where he was responsible for the oversight of the company’s full-service hotel real estate investments. Prior to this role at Destination, Mr. Rosen was Vice President of hospitality investments for Lowe Hospitality Group. He has also held positions with Fairmont Hotels & Resorts and Omni Hotels and was Vice President of finance and administration for the development of a luxury resort in the Napa Valley. John is a graduate of the University of Houston - Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel & Restaurant Management.
Josh Steinitz – Vice President of Business Development, Revinate – Josh is a longtime veteran of the digital travel space. As founder and CEO of NileGuide, Josh raised venture capital from a number of top-tier firms and built one of the largest independent travel content and media businesses online, which included NileGuide, 10Best, and Localyte, before selling the business to Travora Media. Prior to that, Josh was an early employee at Away.com; after Away sold to Orbitz, Josh ran the western U.S. partner marketing team for Orbitz/Cendant. At Revinate, Josh leads the process to execute strategic partnerships with companies offering products and services that are complementary to Revinate’s offering. Josh was White House intern with Monica Lewinsky, and earned an A.B. from Princeton University at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
Kim Bardoul – Consultant, The Highland Group - Kim’s experience includes feasibility and overall market research studies for proposed and existing hotels, due diligence for acquisitions, impact studies, financial analysis, litigation support, and market analysis. Kim specializes in boutique hotels. Her recent experience includes unique conversion properties including those that were previously a funeral home, hospital and former prison. Boutique hotel studies Kim has conducted include luxury, destination, mid-priced and economy concepts. Additionally, she has spoken at boutique hotel conferences, lectured on the segment at Georgia Tech University and moderated panels in Chicago, Miami and London on the boutique hotel segment. Active in the industry, Kim is a board member for the Atlanta Hospitality Alliance, an associate member of the ISHC, and active with Georgia Women in Lodging. She is a graduate of Georgia State University with a Bachelor in Business Administration and major in Marketing.
Kip Vreeland – Chief Officer, Full Service Franchising, Marriott International - Mr. Vreeland is responsible for the business relationship that exists with the franchise partners in any of the Full Service branded hotels in the United States or Canada. Through his resources, Mr. Vreeland ensures product and service quality that support and enhance each of the brand promises as well as personally managing any of the business transactions related to full service branded hotels. In his role, Mr. Vreeland also has responsibility to work with the various departments and disciplines within Marriott International to provide feedback and perspectives gained from the franchise partners. Cornerstones of his team’s culture include being a stakeholder advocate, appreciating the value of a transparent and authentic business relationship, and driving for business results. Mr. Vreeland joined Marriott in 1983 and held operational management positions in various Marriott hotels before moving into the Revenue Management discipline in 1989. In 1997 he was promoted to Regional Director of Revenue Management for the Southeast Region. In September 2000, he was promoted to Regional Vice President of the Southeast Region, and in July 2005 assumed the role as Vice President, Revenue Strategy for the Central Region. In March of 2008, he was promoted to Regional Vice President, Market Strategy in the Eastern region. In April 2010, he moved into the Brand Management organization and led the launch and growth of the Autograph Collection. He assumed his current role in July 2012. Mr. Vreeland is a graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University and holds a BS degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management as well as a Masters of Business Administration from the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia.
Kurien Jacob – Chief Revenue Officer, Highgate Hotels - Mr. Jacob has played an integral and key role in shaping the pricing, electronic marketing, distribution and revenue management strategy for the company. As Chief Revenue Officer, he has focused on growing Revenue faster than the market for the company’s portfolio of hotels with a special emphasis of exponential growth for newly acquired assets. From 1997 to 2001, Kurien envisioned and spearheaded the Revenue Management philosophy and strategy for The Taj Group of Hotels, India. Now called the Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces, Taj owns and operates 75 five-star deluxe hotels in 40 locations across India and 18 international destinations. Kurien also set up Taj’s Business Applications’ think-tank code named Genesis. Under his leadership, Genesis developed and deployed an integrated approach to Distribution, Reservations, Sales and Revenue Management; and set up the Taj’s Central Reservation and Customer Information Systems. Kurien holds a Bachelor's Degree in Mechanical Engineering and an MBA in Marketing.
Lauren Faulkner-Business Development Executive, STR – Lauren is responsible for the growth of STR’s independent hotel participant programs across the Central United States. She is often featured as a guest speaker for industry and How-to-Use STAR presentations. She serves as the Middle TN ambassador for the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Under 30 Gateway and is also a member of the TN Women in Lodging Chapter.
Lauren is a native of Nashville, TN. She began at STR in January of 2010, after earning her bachelor’s degree in Corporate & Organizational Communications from Western Kentucky University. She currently resides in Goodlettsville, TN.
Lindsay Culbreath-Senior Director of Business Development, STR – Lindsay oversees the business development & marketing efforts for the STR family of companies. She is responsible for the growth of the STAR program as well as building vendor relationships by promoting new products and services. Lindsay is often featured as a guest speaker for hotel industry presentations. She is a member of the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Women In Lodging and was recently a council member of the Under 30 Gateway.
Prior to joining STR, Lindsay was the Divested Accounts Supervisor for HCA (Hospital Corporation of America). Lindsay is a graduate of Lipscomb University with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Management. She resides in Hendersonville, TN.
Loren Gray - Director of eCommerce, Ocean Properties Ltd. – Since 2001, Mr. Gray has been working with Ocean Properties, Ltd. in an ever expanding role starting as General Manager of several brand- and non-branded resorts, to regional responsibilities in sales, and ultimately to Director of eCommerce for all of Ocean Properties 130+ property portfolio. Mr. Gray came through the ranks in the Hospitality industry in Food and Beverage, Hotel Operations, and General Management, and has also owned and operated several Hospitality ventures. This operational perspective has allowed him to contribute to the ‘entrepreneurial success’ of eCommerce for Ocean Properties, Ltd. Throughout his past, in participation with his local communities, Mr. Gray has served as a member of the Houston Food and Beverage Directors’ Association, on the board of the Key Largo, Florida, Chamber of Commerce, and on the Tourism and Development Council of Monroe County, Florida Keys. In the ever changing landscape of Digital Marketing, Mr. Gray is involved in a variety of branded committees and non-branded industry organizations: Member - Marriott’s Franchise eCommerce Committee (7 Years – current); Active member - SEMPO, the organization for Search Engine Marketing Professionals (8 Years – current); Prior member - SMA-NA, the Search Marketers Association of North America (2 Years); Prior Chairman of the eCommerce Committee - CHA, the Caribbean Hotel Association (4 Years); Digital Marketing Committee Chair - HSMAI, the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (2 Years – Current); Prior eCommerce Committee member - HFTP, Hospitality Financial & Technical Professionals Association (3 Years). A sample of Mr. Gray’s speaking engagements: HITECH (5 years); The Resort Management Conference (2 Years); Caribbean Tourisms Organizations Master Class Series (2 Years); Caribbean Tourisms Association Annual Conference (3 Years); HSMAI events (4 Years); SEO industry forums (3 Years); Travel Industry Association Conference; Hospitality Operations Technology Conference; Mobile Retail Marketing Conference; Guest lecturer for Florida International University Hospitality curriculum; Quoted in multiple publications as an industry resource including the New York Times and USA Today. The exposure that a multi-brand / independent franchisor receives to all brand and non-branded facets of eCommerce initiatives, in combination with a healthy dose of internal creativity, has launched Ocean Properties, Ltd. to the forefront of its respective markets. This ‘turn on a dime’ ability has kept new, adaptive concepts viable for ROI measurement, and leading edge technology adoption.
L.W. Biff Hawkey, Jr. – Senior Vice President of Development, Hostmark Hospitality Group – Mr. Hawkey brings a wealth of knowledge in real estate, law, and tax strategies to Hostmark Hospitality Group's operations and management functions. As such, Mr. Hawkey creates and oversees the design of financial restructuring opportunities, deal-sourcing, reorganization, and workout plans for clients, and has provided remarkable support and assistance to borrowers and lenders in foreclosure, bankruptcy and receivership situations. His valuable insights have earned him notoriety within the Hospitality Industry, and he is frequently called upon by business peers as a keynote speaker. Mr. Hawkey is the accomplished author of several books, holds B.A. and J.D. degrees, and is an adjunct professor at Roosevelt University in Chicago, where he teaches hospitality development and feasibility Master’s level classes.
Maki Nakamura Bara- President and Co-founder, The Chartres Lodging Group, LLC – Maki Nakamura Bara is a leading expert in redeveloping and repositioning luxury resorts, urban hotels, convention hotels and conference centers. Her expertise has involved nearly $800 million with The Chartres Lodging Group. Recently, in recognition of her extensive experience in the lodging sector, particularly in acquisitions, asset management, development management and her role in the growth of the company, Make was recognized as the top "40 Under 40" by M&A Advisor. She also received the "Best Executive" Stevie Award for Women in business and was named a "Woman of Influence" in commercial real estate by Real Estate Southern California magazine. Maki's previous experience includes participating in the fromation and growth of the lodging activities of Lend Lease Real Estate and Strategic Hotel Capital. She has also worked at Oxford Capital Partners, Inc. and PricewaterhouseCoopers, the hospitality industry's leading consulting firm. Ms. Bara is a graduate of UCLA, fluent in Japanese and has extensive hospitality industry experience throughout the United States and Japan.
Marco Benvenuti- Chief Analytics and Product Officer and Co-founder, Duetto Research – Marco Benvenutidirects product vision, direction and implementation for Duetto Research, which he co-founded. Prior to this, Marco co-founded Duetto Consulting, a strategic marketing consulting firm. Marco was Executive Director at Wynn and Encore where he founded and managed the Enterprise Strategy Group, in which he led revenue management, data analytics, direct marketing and the online channels. Prior to Wynn, Marco worked for Caesars Entertainment, Expedia and Four Seasons. Marco patented two unique inventions: the Pricing Engine for one-to-one dynamic pricing and the Enterprise Value Algorithm for calculating the value of every customer. Marco is an avid college basketball fan and his favorite team is of course the UNLV Runnin' Rebels.
Megan Sullivan – Managing Editor, Lodging – Megan previously served as managing editor of regional arts and entertainment and lifestyle publications in Princeton, N.J., and has interviewed a number of famous musicians, comedians, actors and other celebrities. At Lodging, she has written feature stories and profiles that cover all aspects of the hospitality industry, including design and construction, food and beverage, operations, and technology trends. She is a media representative on the AH&LA's Women in Lodging Executive Council.
Michael Bennett – Managing Director Digital Marketing and Strategy, KSL Resorts – Michael is a native of the Chicagoland area, a graduate of the American Academy of Art in Chicago and is currently pursuing his executive MBA at the University of Notre Dame. He possesses over 19 years of international digital marketing experience, working with companies such as Marriott, Hilton, Starwood, Hyatt, White Lodging, Knight-Ridder, The Nature Conservancy and Eastman Kodak. Michael's specialties lie in digital marketing, ecommerce, mobile and web application implementations - all with a proven track record of success. Michael currently resides in Southern California with his wife Gina and 2 daughters.
Michael G. Medzigian - Chairman and Managing Partner, Watermark Capital Partners - Mr. Medzigian is also President, CEO and a Director, Carey Watermark Investors Inc. Mr. Medzigian has led some of the world’s largest real estate private equity funds and has overseen over $14 billion of investments. He was previously President and CEO of Lazard Freres Real Estate Investors and before that a Founding Partner of Olympus Real Estate Corporation, the real estate fund management affiliate of Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst. Earlier in his career he was President of Cohen Realty Services, he founded and was National Director of the Hospitality Consulting Practice at Deloitte & Touche, and he held various management positions with Marriott Corporation. He has served on numerous public and private boards and is a graduate of Cornell University.
Michael Murphy - Head of Lodging and Leisure Capital Markets, First Fidelity Mortgage Corporation - Mr. Murphy also serves as Director, Ashford Hospitality Trust; Director, American Hotel Investment Properties REIT LP - From 1998 to 2002 Mr. Murphy served as the Senior Vice President and Chief Development Officer of ResortQuest International, Inc., a public, NYSE-listed company. Prior to joining ResortQuest, from 1995 to 1997, he was President of Footprints International, a company involved in the planning and development of environmentally friendly hotel properties. From 1994 to 1996, Mr. Murphy was a Senior Managing Director of Geller & Co., a Chicago-based hotel advisory and asset management firm. Prior to that Mr. Murphy was a partner in the investment firm of Metric Partners where he was responsible for all hospitality related real estate matters including acquisitions, sales and the company’s investment banking platform. Mr. Murphy served in various development roles at Holiday Inns, Inc. from 1973 to 1980. Mr. Murphy has been Co-Chairman of the Industry Real Estate Finance Advisory Council (IREFAC) three times and currently serves on the board of the Atlanta Hospitality Alliance. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Memphis and a Master of Arts degree from the University of Iowa.
Mit Shah – Senior Managing Principal and Chief Executive Officer, Noble Investment Group - Mr. Shah founded Noble in 1993 to specialize in making value‐added, opportunistic investments in the lodging and hospitality real estate sector. Through its private equity real estate funds, Noble has invested more than $2 billion in upper upscale and upscale hotels and currently owns more than 10,000 rooms throughout the United States. Mr. Shah is president of the franchise advisory board for Marriott International, a board member of IREFAC and a board member for the Metro Atlanta Chamber. Mr. Shah is also an active supporter of educational objectives as a vice chairman of the board of trustees for Wake Forest University where he also chairs the audit, compliance, and risk committee, an executive committee member for the Wake Forest Schools of Business, an executive committee member of Woodward Academy’s governing board and a trustee of the University System of Georgia Foundation.
Nancy Johnson - Executive Vice President, Midscale Development, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group - As executive vice president, Midscale Development, Americas, Nancy Johnson oversees business development efforts for Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group’s midscale brands in the Americas including Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM and Park Inn by Radisson. Johnson was recently inducted as chair of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) board of directors for 2012. She is the founding chair of the Women in Lodging Council for the AH&LA. Johnson also serves on the board of directors of the International Hotel and Restaurant Association and has been named one of the 200 Most Powerful Women in Travel by Travel Agent magazine. Johnson serves on the board of directors for The Travel Partnership Corporation (TTPC), a consortium of travel industry organizations representing all key segments of the industry. The organization enables the travel industry to have its own dedicated domain on the Internet. Johnson attended St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minn., majoring in business marketing and St. Benedict College in St. Joseph, Minn., where she studied business management. She became a Certified Hotel Administrator in 1985 and received her Minnesota Real Estate License in 1988.
Nolan Wrentmore – Vice President of Revenue Management & E-Commerce, Aimbridge Hospitality - Nolan Wrentmore joined Aimbridge in 2005 and has 20 years of hospitality experience. Mr. Wrentmore oversees all aspects of revenue management and e-commerce for Aimbridge's hotels. Mr. Wrentmore has extensive knowledge and experience in segmentation, pricing, revenue management systems, third party Internet booking channels, pay per click marketing, and guides Aimbridge's entire portfolio in all market strategies. Prior to joining Aimbridge, Wrentmore was Corporate Director of Revenue Management for Wyndham International and was responsible for various full service hotels in the Western United States. While in this role, he also oversaw the revenue management transition of the Summerfield Suites brand to a Hyatt brand. Prior to that, he served as Area Revenue Manager for Performance Hospitality (a division of Wyndham) overseeing several brands across the Midwest, including several Hilton and Holiday Inn products.
Patrick Mayock – Editor in Chief, HotelNewsNow.com – Patrick heads day-to-day operations for the platform’s in-house editorial team as well as a global network of foreign correspondents. Patrick also oversees website and mobile production for HotelNewsNow.com, the Hotel Investment Barometer and the group’s family of newsletters. Patrick earned his bachelor’s degree from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University and his master’s from Kent State University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
R. Mark Woodworth – President, PKF Hospitality Research, LLC (PKF-HR), an affiliate of PKF Consulting USA, LLC (PKF/C) – Before forming PKF-HR in 1999, Mr. Woodworth was a Partner and Industry Chairman of the Hospitality Industry Consulting practice for Coopers & Lybrand L.L.P. Mr. Woodworth has worked for the industry’s leading lenders, developers, chains and management companies and has dealt with all aspects of operations, development and financing. He is a Dean’s Distinguished Lecturer at Cornell University. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Finance Committee of the United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta and the Editorial Review Board of the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly. He is a member of the Conference of Business Economists. Mr. Woodworth holds both a B.S. and Master’s Degree from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration. He and his wife Mary Kay reside in Atlanta.
Rick Garlick – Global Travel and Hospitality Practice Lead, J.D. Power – Dr. Garlick is responsible for providing industry thought leadership to the company’s clients in the hotel, rental car, airline, and cruise line industries, among others, as well as creating new products and revenue opportunities to grow the practice. Dr. Garlick joined J.D. Power in 2013 after nearly 20 years of consumer and employee research experience with two of the most prestigious research companies in North America: The Gallup Organization and Maritz Research. He has been a trusted advisor to many senior leaders of premier organizations, as well as a nationally recognized thought leader in the area of hospitality and employee engagement research. He has a diverse research and consulting background that includes extensive experience with travel and hospitality research; employee engagement measurement and training; talent selection; brand research; customer satisfaction and loyalty programs; image and awareness studies; and national opinion polling. Earlier in his career, Dr. Garlick worked in financial services, utilities, manufacturing, entertainment, media, retail, association, and not-for-profit research. Prior to entering the private sector, he taught courses in research methods, marketing, and persuasive communication at Michigan State University and DePaul University in Chicago. A frequent conference speaker, Dr. Garlick has published numerous articles in industry and academic journals. He has also appeared on such national media outlets as MSNBC, CNBC, CNNfn, Bloomberg Television, and National Public Radio, as well as being quoted in a number of national publications. Currently, Dr. Garlick serves as chair of the Research Committee for the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association (HSMAI) Foundation Board. Previously, he served in a similar function for Meeting Professionals International (MPI). Dr. Garlick received a Ph.D. in communication studies from Michigan State University.
Rob Torres - Managing Director for Travel, Google, Inc. – With over 20 years of travel industry experience, Rob Torres serves as Google’s Managing Director of advertising and marketing for the travel sector. In this role, Rob oversees the strategy development and profitable growth of integrated marketing campaigns. His group serves some of the largest travel brands in the US. Prior to joining Google, Rob was Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at Expedia.com. During his seven year career at Expedia, Rob managed a team that had Global responsibility for 30 strategic accounts, generating gross bookings in excess of $2 billion. Rob is active in the hospitality industry and community affairs. He currently serves as the vice chairman of the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association (HSMAI) and is on the board of directors for the Association of Travel Marketing Executives (ATME), the US Travel Association, Fareportal, Regatta Solutions, the Adventure Travel & Tour Association (ATTA), Sustainable Travel International (STI) and the Washington Leadership Council for the American Lung Association. Twice Rob has been listed among HSMAI’s Top 25 Extraordinary Minds in Sales and Marketing. Rob holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Administration from the University of Southern California and a Masters of Business Administration from Georgetown University.
Robert Cole – Founder, RockCheetah – Mr. Cole’s clients consulting include global hotel groups, travel technology providers, major media groups, consumer websites, travel related service organizations and the US Government. Robert's deep industry experience includes executive leadership positions with leading hotel, travel and technology firms including Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, Anasazi/Travel Resources, Sabre, Neat Group/Cendant TDS & The Mark Travel Corporation. Robert speaks frequently at travel conferences. He has keynoted the last two years for the Association of Travel Marketing Executives on Social Media Versus Traveler Privacy and also Big Data. He periodically publishes papers for PhoCusWright, most recently on the topics of Revenue Management, Hotel Distribution and Semantic Search. He also authors the Views from a Corner Suite blog where he diligently attempts to prove hotel & destination marketing, travel technology, quality service & profitability can peacefully coexist.
Robert Morse - Senior Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, the Americas, IHG – In this role, Bob is responsible for leading Americas operations for franchised and managed hotels, including InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts, Hotel Indigo, Holiday Inn Hotels & Resorts, Holiday Inn Express, Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites. He is also responsible for cultivating franchisee relationships and facilitating system growth by making IHG brands the first choice for guests and hotel owners. Bob and his team provide the services and support necessary to open new hotels in a timely manner. As a senior leader of the Americas region, Bob serves on the Regional Operating Committee. Bob is a 35-year veteran of hospitality, touching almost every area of the industry during his career. Bob joined IHG in February 2012 from Noble Investment Group; a leading lodging and hospitality investment organization, where he most recently served as managing principal and chief operating officer. For the past seven years, he was responsible for Noble’s hotel management group, which prior to its November 2011 merger with Interstate Hotels & Resorts, operated more than 60 properties including full and select service hotels with annual management revenues of approximately $350 million. His responsibilities at Noble included hotel operations, sales and marketing, human resources, information technology and hotel accounting. Prior to joining Noble, Morse was the chief operating officer for Interstate Hotels & Resorts, Inc. During his tenure there he was responsible for directing a portfolio of more than 300 hotels and resorts with more than $2.3 billion in annual revenue. Additionally, he has served in senior management positions for Millennium and Copthorne Hotels PLC, Homestead Suites and with ITT Sheraton Hotels & Resorts where he oversaw the worldwide franchise organization for the Sheraton and Four Points brands.
Scott Warren – Research Analyst, RRC Associates – Scott has extensive experience in the snowsports and hospitality industries as well as the meetings and conventions planning arena. Scott has worked extensively on DestinationMAP – a comprehensive study of meeting planners and destinations in North America. Additionally he has helped develop modeling tools to assist destinations and hotels in identifying the most relevant competitors in their marketplace. He has also produced comprehensive studies for destinations around the compression impacts of city-wide events. In addition, he has presented on utilizing data visualization to effectively tell the story behind the numbers. Prior to joining RRC Associates. Scott worked at Taos Ski Valley. He has a master’s degree in Economics from the University of California, Davis and a BA from the University of Puget Sound.
Sean Mullen – Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Noble House Hotels & Resorts – Mr. Mullen offers a results-driven approach to marketing through 20 years of hospitality industry experience, ranging from sales and catering to marketing and management. His success in branding, positioning, consumer marketing, revenue growth and advertising effectiveness contribute to the growth and development of business and support corporate strategic initiatives. Appointed to the newly-created title of chief sales and marketing officer at Noble House in September 2011, Mullen oversees a nationwide sales team of more than 45 employees, working to provide targeted, strategic sales support and direction in all market segments. He also oversees strategic direction and implementation in sales, marketing, catering, conference services, reservations sales and national sales. Previously, Mullen acted as the Noble House Hotels & Resorts corporate director of sales and marketing from 2003 – 2007. Sean Mullen began his career with Noble House in 2002 at LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort in Naples, Fla., as the director of sales and marketing. In this role he developed strong marketing campaigns, repositioned the brand and completed a $54 million transformation. As a seasoned hotel industry executive, with experience in commercial luxury properties and international real estate, Mullen has incredible expertise in management takeovers, ownership changes, repositioning under performing assets, and expansion and development for high-profile companies such as Ritz-Carlton Hotels, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, Jack Nicklaus Golf Companies, Fairmont Hotels, Auberge Hotels and Capella Hotels. In addition, Mullen is knowledgeable in the opening of real estate developments, from hotels and resorts to clubs and golf courses – and currently serves on the Advisory Board for Stash Hotel Rewards and Intelity. Sean Mullen attended Lafayette College in Easton, Penn., and graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in economics/business with a minor in anthropology and sociology. He grew up in New Jersey and currently resides in Seattle, Wash., with his wife and four daughters. Mullen has won multiple industry and corporate awards including The Departures Magazine Luxury Marketing Achievement Award 2005, HSMAI Adrian Awards - Gold, Silver and Bronze 2005, Nominated as International Hotel and Restaurant Association and HOTELS “Young Hotelier & Restaurateur of the World Award” 1999.
Shawn A. Turner – Finance Editor, HotelNewsNow.com – Mr. Turner covers the financial side of the hotel industry. He also heads up the Hotel Investment Barometer, which focuses on hotel transactions, debt, and other topics the industry’s real-estate pros need to know. Prior to joining HotelNewsNow.com, Shawn worked as a business reporter in Vermont and finance/legal reporter in Ohio as well as a media and investor relations professional at a publicly held technology company. He earned his undergraduate degree in newspaper journalism from Kent State University in Ohio and his graduate degree in business journalism from Baruch College in New York.
Stephanie Ricca – Editor in Chief, Hotel Management and HotelManagement.net – She joined the magazine in 2006, and has ten years of experience in magazine editing and newspaper reporting. She is a graduate of Wittenberg University and holds a master’s degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.
Stephen Hennis- Director, STR Analytics – Mr. Hennis has over 19 years of experience in the analysis of lodging real estate investments. Steve has appraised and evaluated over 500 lodging facilities, and has been involved in the underwriting, negotiation, acquisition, and disposition of over $600 million in luxury hotels and resorts. He is a graduate of the University of Denver’s Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management. Steve is an MAI candidate at the Appraisal Institute and a member of the Executive Advisory Board for the Fritz Knoebel School. He also holds the Certified Hotel Administrator designation from the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute.
Steve Galbreath – Vice President, RTKL - With two decades of experience around the globe, Steve's focus has been exclusively on the design of hospitality, gaming and mixed-use projects with a particular expertise on sustainable design and LEED-certified projects. Galbreath is currently the President of the ISHC (International Society of Hospitality Consultants) and is a frequent speaker at industry events, including multiple engagements at the International Society of Hospitality Consultants annual conferences; The Tourism Conference at InfoMax/ProInversion, Lima, Peru; The Hotel Developer’s Conference in Palm Springs, CA; BITAC Hotel Luxury Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico; XIII Congreso International de Arquitectura in Monterrey, Mexico; HD Asia conference in Hong Kong, and HD (Hospitality Design) Expo in Las Vegas. Steve has recently authored a chapter in a textbook on Hospitality Design and Sustainability, and has published articles and been quoted in numerous industry journals, including Forbes.com, Hotel & Motel Management, Texas Architect, The Hotel Yearbook, Hotel Interactive, Hotel Design, and a number of others. Steve lives in Dallas, Texas, with his wife Laura, their daughter Madeleine and their dog Winston.
Steve Hood - Senior Vice President of Research, STR – Steve has been with STR for 15 years. He is currently responsible for research-related activities, including special analyses and methodologies. He manages STR’s relationships with the government and with the educational community. He currently serves as the Director of the SHARE Education Center.
Susan Weigel – Vice President Revenue Management and Distribution, Denihan Hospitality Group – Susan is responsible for maximizing revenues through creation of strategic initiatives in pricing, revenue management, and channel distribution and technology innovations for Denihan Hospitality Group (a nationally recognized, independent owner/operator of 14 boutique hotels in top U.S. urban markets. The portfolio includes properties under The James and Affinia Hotels brands, luxury independents The Surrey and The Benjamin, both in New York City, and several independent boutique hotels. Susan is a results driven leader with deep analytic, marketing, and technology experience. Prior to Denihan Susan spent eight years with Starwood Hotels & Resorts, most recently holding the role of Vice President - Channel Intelligence where she worked closely with Revenue Management, Distribution and Marketing to develop and measure Starwood's revenue and distribution strategies globally. Prior to that, Susan led a number of teams in Revenue Management, Distribution and Planning roles at Delta Air Lines and American Airlines.
Tim Hart - Executive Vice President, Business Intelligence - Tim Hart is a leader in the business intelligence division of TravelClick. Hart is involved in the development and delivery of enterprise level business intelligence solutions and services to large hotel chains, rental car companies, and other travel industry stakeholders. A veteran of the travel and hospitality industry, Hart has been leading the innovation and technology behind the industry’s market intelligence, pricing and revenue management solutions. Prior to joining TravelClick, Hart was a co-founder, chief executive officer and president of Rubicon as well as a member of its board of directors. He has more than 25 years experience in designing and implementing advanced revenue management and business intelligence solutions for the travel and hospitality industry. Tim Hart holds a Bachelor’s of Arts in Germanic Languages and Literature, and Master’s of Business Administration in Finance from Washington University in St. Louis.
Vail R. Brown - Vice President of Global Business Development & Marketing, STR – Mrs. Brown is responsible for the overall coordination, functional management and leadership of the business development and marketing departments for the STR Family of Companies - STR, STR Global, STR Analytics, HotelNewsNow.com, and RRC Associates and the Hotel Data Conference.
She is often featured as a guest speaker at international, national, regional and state conferences. Mrs. Brown currently is the Chair for the AH&LA Women In Lodging (WIL) Council, the Chair for the HSMAI Foundation Board of Directors and a member of the Women’s Political Collaborative of TN. She is also a Certified Master Hotel Supplier (CMHS) and the recipient of 2013 American Hotel & Lodging Association John Whitaker Award.
Prior to joining STR, Mrs. Brown was the Director of Membership Development for the Tennessee Hotel & Lodging Association (now Tennessee Hospitality Association) and Greater Nashville Hotel & Lodging Association. Mrs. Brown holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Western Kentucky University in Political Science and Environment Studies.
Val Bauduin - Partner, Audit & Enterprise Risk Services and U.S. Hospitality Leader- Deloitte & Touche LLP – Val is a partner in the audit practice of Deloitte & Touche’s Las Vegas, NV office. He has served SEC registrants in various industries, focusing on the Travel, Hospitality and Leisure (“THL”) sector. He has significant experience with complex accounting and financial reporting topics, including revenue recognition, M&A and divestiture activities, business valuation, IPOs and fair value accounting. As leader of Deloitte’s U.S. Hospitality practice, Val supports audit, tax, consulting and advisory teams in delivering the Deloitte Client Experience to leading companies in the hospitality industry, including Wyndham, Starwood, Marriott and Caesars Entertainment. Val is a member of the America’s Lodging Investment Summit planning committee, and has also represented Deloitte at the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research. Previously, Val worked in Deloitte’s National Office in Wilton, CT, where he consulted with engagement teams on auditing, internal controls and accounting issues, as well as authored and facilitated numerous technical trainings. Val joined Deloitte’s Los Angeles office in August 1997. Val received a BA in economics from the University of Notre Dame, and a MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he majored in finance. He is a member of The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, is a Certified Public Accountant.
Warren J. Marr – Managing Director with a specialization in the hospitality and leisure sector, PwC – Mr. Marr has over 30 years experience in both the operations and consulting aspects of the hospitality and leisure industries. Mr. Marr leads many of the larger hospitality and leisure advisory engagements across the country, with a focus on strategy and business planning, portfolio transaction analyses, and market positioning and repositioning. Additional areas of expertise include lease structuring, management oversight, site evaluation, project concept development, valuation analyses, contract analysis and support, and casino gaming advisory services. Mr. Marr is Chair of the Delaware Valley Chapter of the Counselors of Real Estate and Vice Chair - Membership of the Urban Land Institute's Hotel Development Council. He is a frequent industry spokesperson, having appeared on CNN, CNN Headline News and CNBC, and is frequently quoted on hospitality industry issues by numerous news services, including Reuters and Associated Press, and in various news publications, including the New York Times, USA Today, and Business Week, as well as industry trade journals. He has authored articles for Lodging Magazine, Hotel Management, and Convene Magazine. He also oversees the Firm's quarterly publication of Manhattan Lodging Index, and is editor of the Firm's quarterly publication, Hospitality Directions US.
William Carlson - Senior Vice President, Performance Analytics, Choice Hotels International, Inc. – Mr. Carlson is also is an officer of the company. Mr. Carlson is responsible for the providing the company with business intelligence services to drive strategic and operating decisions in support of CHI’s goals. In this position, he has helped the company develop advanced analytic tools to assist marketing and other areas of the enterprise in resource allocation to optimize return on investment. Mr. Carlson has served as senior vice president since April 2006. Prior to his promotion, he was vice president of consumer marketing for Choice. Prior to joining Choice, Mr. Carlson was senior director of market information and planning for Promus Hotel Corp., where he was responsible for conducting and interpreting consumer and industry information. He also worked for Holiday Inns for 14 years, serving in a variety of strategic planning and market/research analysis positions. Mr. Carlson received a bachelor’s degree in marketing and a master’s degree in business administration from Arizona State University. He is a member of the American Marketing Association and serves as a member of the Membership, Sales and Marketing Committee for the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA).