Theme: Lust for Life, Adventure Travel Hospitality

The Woodlands (Houston), Texas, June 6, 2017 … Well respected leaders and innovators from the hospitality industry around the world will be giving a TEDx talk at TEDxWilmingtonSalon on Wednesday, June 7 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at The Queen, a historic theater located at 500 N. Market St., in downtown Wilmington, Delaware. Alex Cabañas, chief executive officer of BENCHMARK®, a global hospitality company, will join distinguished colleagues in the TEDx Talks.

The TEDxWilmington theme for June 7 is, "Lust for Life: Adventure Travel Hospitality." In addition to Mr. Cabañas, speakers include Gerard Inzerillo, CEO of Forbes Travel Guide, Bill Walshe, CEO of the Viceroy Hotel Group, Mark Harmon, founder of Auberge Resorts Collection, Bashar Wali, president of Provenance Hotels, Gerard Greene, founder and CEO of Society, Joe Diaz, co-founder of AFAR, and Michael Keriakos, founder and CEO of

“It is truly an honor to be invited by the Independent Lodging Congress and TEDx Wilmington to be a part of this talk,” said Mr. Cabañas. “I’m really looking forward to it, and to sharing great ideas with my fellow industry friends.”

"Get ready to be inspired by some remarkable trailblazers from the hospitality and travel industries," says Ajit Mathew George, organizer and executive producer of TEDxWilmington. "These experts hold the secrets to living meaningfully through creating hotels with soul, conquering fear through travel, embracing pride as an organizational ideology, and more. We are excited to partner with Independent Lodging Congress on this TEDxWilmingtonSalon."

The Independent Lodging Congress is partnering with TEDxWilmington to produce the event.

"The Independent Lodging Congress (ILC) is thrilled to partner with TEDxWilmington, which is curating a lineup of some incredibly provocative thought leaders from the areas of hospitality and travel," said Andrew Benioff, ILC founder and chairman. "The ILC, taking place October 4 – 6, 2017 in Brooklyn, New York, strives to continuously break barriers, incite innovation and create connections. Through this TEDxWilmingtonSalon, we hope to expand the stage upon which we explore creativity in independent lodging."

Tickets are $100, and are available at

THE SPEAKERS and their TEDx talk titles:

Alex Cabañas: The Bar is So Low – The Unfortunate and Fortunate Realities of Memorable Service

Alex Cabañas is passionate about leading a company that makes a profound difference in the lives of employees, guests, owners, industry partners and the community. His life mission since college has been to create opportunities for others to be successful. As CEO, Alex is focused on strategic planning, people development, pursuing growth opportunities, promoting the delivery of memorable customer service and being the most experiential hospitality management company in the industry. Alex joined BENCHMARK in January 2006. Prior to joining, he worked for The Boston Consulting Group from 2000 through 2005. Alex earned his MBA at Harvard Business School and holds a BBA and MS in finance from Texas A&M University. Alex is married to his wife, Heather, and they have two energetic and outgoing boys, Matthew and Eli.

Gerard Inzerillo: Global Trends in Luxury Hospitality

The CEO of Forbes Travel Guide, Jerry is a visionary recognized for this trademark innovation and his extensive network of contacts in tourism, hospitality, entertainment and business, cultivated during his four decades as a manager and executive in the hospitality and entertainment industries. He has developed some of the world's most famous and successful lifestyle brands in tourism and entertainment, including Atlantis, One&Only Resorts and Ian Schrager Hotels. Jerry has successfully led Forbes Travel Guide from its North American origins to the most trusted and respected recognition of service excellence worldwide. Forbes Travel Guide evaluates more than 2,000 of the world's finest properties.

Prior to joining Forbes Travel Guide in 2014, Jerry served as president and CEO of IMG Artists, the global leader in artist management, performing arts and lifestyle events planning. IMG Artists manages the careers of more than 500 artists and produces 2,500 musical and lifestyle events annually. He was also president of the Kerzner Entertainment Group, where he was responsible for raising the visibility of the company and the profile of its properties in Bahamas, Dubai, the Indian Ocean, Mexico, Morocco, Africa, Mauritius and Maldives.

Bill Walshe: Business Ideology – A Roadmap of Pride

A 20-year veteran of the luxury hospitality industry, Bill is the chief executive officer of the Viceroy Hotel Group, which includes Viceroy L'Ermitage Beverly Hills, Calif., Viceroy Central Park, New York, N.Y., Viceroy Santa Monica, Calif., Viceroy Rivera Maya, Mexico and Viceroy Palm Jumeriah, Dubai. Bill provides Viceroy with a truly global perspective, bringing extensive senior management experience with leading international hospitality companies, including Jumeirah Group, The Doyle Collection and Kempinski Hotels and Resorts. As the CEO of the Doyle Collection, Bill led the brand through its reinvention into a modern luxury urban hotel group that includes 11 hotels in the U.S. and Europe. Prior to The Doyle Collection, he served as chief marketing officer for Dubai based Jumeirah Group at a time of tremendous growth for the international luxury hospitality group.

Mark Harmon: The Soul of a Great Hotel

Mark is the founder of Auberge Resorts Collection, an international portfolio of luxury hotels, resorts and residences which includes Auberge du Soleil, Solage and Calistoga Ranch all in Napa Valley, Calif., Esperanza and Chileno Bay Resort, both in Los Cabos, Mexico, Hotel Jerome, Aspen, Colo., Malliouhana, Anguila and Nanukui, Fiji, Auberge Residences at Element 52, Telluride, Colo. and Hacienda Alta Gracia, Costa Ricap Each property is uniquely conceived to reflect its location and culture, yet all share a crafted approach to luxury expressed through captivating design, exceptional cuisine and spas, and gracious service. Mark's passion is to create iconic places and experiences that enrich the lives of their guests, employees, hotel owners and the communities around them.

Bashar Wali: A Hotel is Just a Building

A hotel is just a building. It can't run itself. That's what Bashar Wali does. For more than 20 years, Wali has been driving innovation in all facets of the hospitality industry at companies like Wyndham International, Starwood and Grand Heritage Hotels. As president of Provenance Hotels, he has crafted an assertive growth plan and developed strategic partnerships that have led to marquee collaborations with James Beard Award-winning chefs and alliances with preeminent developers like Woodbine Development Corporation, Bolour and Associates, GB Lodging and Thayer Lodging to expand the company's national presence and grow its portfolio of owned and managed hotels including Hotel Max and The Roosevelt both in Seattle, Wash., Hotel Lucia, Hotel deLuxe, Sentinel and The Heathman Hotel all in Portland, Ore., Hotel Murano, Tacoma, Wash., The Old No. 77 & Chandlery in New Orleans, La., and the Hotel Preston in Nashville, Tenn.

Gerard Greene: Society and Sangalala: A Vision for Building Connected Communities

Gerard co-founded Yotel, a pioneer of micro hotels. Cleverly using aircraft designers and innovative technology, Yotel was able to provide a superior product at an affordable price, which even included motorised reclining beds and hourly occupancy! They developed hotels inside major global airport terminals providing rest for weary travellers and then built a city centre hotel near Times Square, New York, with 669 cabins and a luggage Yobot. With Yotel then successfully developing hotels across the U.S., Europe and Asia he decided that the next venture needed a greater social mission.

He is now CEO and founder of Society, a co-living brand that aims to bring the real benefits of community to people's lives through technology, service and design.

From a young age, Gerard has been interested in community, design and hospitality. His first attempt at creating a community was in Africa, where he tried to set up a program that provided education and training in hospitality for the locals. It never got off the ground, but his enthusiasm didn't wane. With his love for travel, he thought the hotel industry must be fun to work in and so, in an effort to expand his knowledge in hospitality, he worked as a hotel analyst advising banks and hotel developers across the globe at HVS International and held operational roles with Marriott, Hyatt and Conran Restaurants.

Joe Diaz: From Fear to Fearless: The Transformational Power of Travel

Co-founder Joe Diaz launched AFAR in 2009 with Greg Sullivan. AFAR has quickly become one of the world's most critically acclaimed travel media brands. Its flagship magazine is the only travel publication to be nominated for three National Magazine Awards with its most recent nomination in "Best Overall Photography." It is also the only travel publication to be named "America's Best Travel Magazine" every year since its launch. In 2016, was considered the Best Overall Website in Travel by Folio. Its digital platform is designed to provide frequent and discerning travelers with the best in content and tools to inspire, enable and guide deeper, richer, and more fulfilling experiences.

Michael Keriakos: Why Luxury Hotels and the Publishers Who Write About Them Ought to Rethink Their Relationships

Michael Keriakos is the co-founder and CEO of, a marketing technology company in the luxury hospitality space. They currently operate a network/marketplace that connects publishers like,,, and with the luxury hotels they write about. Curacity has built a data-driven bridge that helps publishers get paid commissions for bookings their content is shown to inspire. Keriakos formerly was Everyday Health's (NYSE:EVDY) co-founder and president. He served on its board of directors since its inception in January 2002 through their IPO in March, 2014.