3rd Annual ILES Conference, BITAC Independent Draws Record Crowd, Iconic Speakers
May 23, 2017 10:46am
More than 300 attendees met last week in Las Vegas to discuss viability of the Independent hotel market and the role Soft Brands are playing in franchising
[Phoenix – May 23, 2017] – When hoteliers and suppliers come together, great things happen. This was evident at the 3rd Annual InnDependent Lodging Executive Summit (ILES) and BITAC Independent events last week held at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Co-produced by IBC Hospitality, the Independent Lodging Industry Assn. (ILIA) and Hotel Interactive, leaders from the industry’s top management companies, brands, soft brands and financial institutions met for two days with hotel owners and suppliers to discuss operating trends, purchasing options, and the overall future of the independent lodging segment.
“ILES is the first hospitality event dedicated to independent hoteliers,” said Pamela Barnhill, founder of ILES and president and chief operating officer of IBC Hospitality. “This is a networking conference that enables independent hotel owners to rub shoulders with prominent hotel executives whom they could not otherwise meet. For example, Steve Belmonte of Vimana Franchise Systems, Roger Bloss of Red Lion Hotels Corp., Jenna Hackett of Curio Hotels by Hilton, and Shane Platt of SureStay Hotel Group / Best Western were in attendance to discuss pros and cons of soft brands and help owners determine if remaining independent or migrating to a soft brand is right for them. The nice thing was, the conversations didn’t stop there. Owners had ample opportunities to strike up new dialogues during lunch and dinner in the exhibit hall. At ILES, everyone is approachable and eager to connect.”
What’s trending for Independents?
In the session, “Technology to Boost Your Bottom Line,” Professor Robert Rippee, Director of the Hospitality Lab & eSports Lab at the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) Harrah Hotel College, asked a panel of technologists and consultants if they felt today’s hospitality technologies are “cutting edge.” The consensus among John Celona of Caesar’s Entertainment Co., Eric Gravelle of Diamond Resorts International, Mark Molinari of Las Vegas Sands Corp., Allison Morris of ForEm Consultants LLC, and ILES’ Barnhill, was “no.” While other industries continue to out-pace hospitality, hoteliers aren’t letting the lag-time hold them back. Instead, they are using the advanced business intelligence tools they do have to improve the guest experience, understand guests needs, and manage customer interactions. The beauty of being an independent hotel or soft brand, panelists said, is that these property types are not bound by brand mandates. Independents have more freedom to do more things their way; things that will improve the hotel-to-guest relationship and vice versa. All agree that technology is leveling the playing field for independents.
That sentiment was shared by the industry’s top management company executives as well. In a session titled “Managing to Increase Asset Value,” Hotel Interactive Editor Dennis Nessler conferred with Mary Beth Cutshall of HVMG, Chris Green of Chesapeake Hospitality LLC, Justin Jabara of Meyer Jabara Hotels, Jayson Seidman of Sandstone Hospitality Developments, and Harper Stephens of Charlestowne Hotels about the value proposition of independents relative to branded hotels. In addition to deliberating over financing options, operational challenges, market dynamics and profitability for non-branded properties, the overall takeaway was that the Internet has generally leveled the playing field. How independents will perform if, and when, the economy turns remains an unknown.
Women are also rising in the ranks among independent hotels. In a session titled: “Independence Day for Women Executives,” UNLV, Harrah Hotel College Assistant Professor Toni Repetti held court with Jody Harwood of Grace Hospitality, Radhika Papandreou of Ferguson Partners LTD., Tina Patel of ALKO Hospitality and Bobbie Singh-Allen of ILIA to scrutinize the role of today’s female hoteliers. As women continue to rise in the ranks to fill property- and corporate-level positions, the panelists said women need to be more supportive of each other and become mentors to the younger generation. Talent among women in hospitality is growing, and as seats open on various boards, the positions are no longer going to just men. Rather than competing, women need to be empowering and act as role models to the Millennial generation. Although this group thinks they have hospitality “figured out,” their digital dependence may remove too much of the human element needed in our industry. Today’s female leaders need to ensure that the value of the handshake and making personal connections is not lost.
BITAC Independent to Grow
In addition to the ILES educational sessions, the second annual BITAC Independent was deemed a huge success. Seventy-five exhibitors participated in private, one-on-one meetings with top level corporate decision makers at the independent hotels they wish to reach most.
“We were very pleased with BITAC Independent in its second year,” said Rich Viola, president and CEO of Hotel Interactive and BITAC®. “The constituents that I spoke to were extremely pleased and are even more excited about where BITAC Independent is going in 2018.”
inndependent lodging executive summit,
independent lodging industry association,
2017 ILES is a three-day idea exchange will include both a trade show and educational sessions exclusively focused on the needs of independent and soft brand hotel owners and executives and offer plenty of time to network with hoteliers and vendors in the unique and relaxed atmosphere. Cultivate new relationships and strengthen existing ones while enjoying great food and beverages, all included in your registration. For more information, visit www.iles.vegas.
Contact: Barb Worcester
IBC offers hospitality software and services to independent hoteliers and alternative lodging and is currently one of the largest lodging networks globally. Hoteliers enjoy a technology platform with robust CRS, distribution and brand-like benefits that enable owners and operators to reclaim their revenue and guest data providing a “One-stop shop” with suite of hospitality services and software includes online revenue generation, hotel management software, guest loyalty program, preferred partner network, and more. Guests enjoy InnCentives loyalty program and shop globally for independent and soft brand hotels with add-on activities, cars and cancellation protection. Hoteliers/Owners/Operators, discover more on www.ibchospitality.com. Guests, discover more on www.ibcinncentives.com.
Contact: Pamela Barnhill
(602) 944-1500 x215
The Independent Lodging Industry Association (ILIA) is a national association with nearly 5000 members nationwide. It was founded in 2010 by the California Lodging Industry Association (CLIA). CLIA was established 68 years ago by a group of independent hotel owners and operators. Over the past several decades, independent hotels, independently owned franchised hotels, and owners have been impacted by decisions being made out of the halls of State Capitols to Washington, D.C. Chain hotels have dominated the policy making process. ILIA will level the playing field and allow independent hotels a seat at the table. For more information, please contact Executive Director Bobbie Singh-Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (916) 826-2075.
The Hotel Interactive Network is a portal for the savvy hospitality professional since 1998. This vertical trade portal excels in bringing buyers and sellers together through unparalleled business tools, quality news features, events, extensive reference material, and innovative e-learning and e-commerce capabilities. The Hotel Interactive Network provides a Daily E-Newsletter to keep hotel executives updated with the timeliest, most insightful and relevant hospitality-related news available anywhere! Hotel Interactive is the only publication to deliver original content daily. HI also produces a highly-acclaimed event called BITAC, an educational and relationship building conference like no other. The perfect match is made between executive decision makers and suppliers to meet one-on-one in a highly productive two plus days to create relationships that would normally take years. Visit www.bitac.net for more information. For more information, visit www.hotelinteractive.com.
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