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Prab Thakral

Group CEO
Boutique Group of Companies (Subsidiaries of Thakral Land Ltd. (Thailand))

In 2004, Mr. Thakral founded Thailand based Thakral Land Ltd. and its related companies, the Boutique Group of Companies, where he is currently the Group CEO and a major shareholder. After initiating his first serviced apartment development in 2004, Mr. Thakral spearheaded the rapid development of mid-market hospitality properties in Thailand that include the Citadines branded apart-hotel product across Bangkok. Within eight years the company has spawned a successful development platform under Mr. Thakral's management, primarily focusing on internationally branded and managed limited service hospitality products and mid tier hotels in Thailand. Mr. Thakral is currently spearheading the development of Boutique’s retail real estate platform, with more projects being planned in the pipeline after the successful launch of its first lifestyle mall known as Rain Hill in early 2012. In addition to the continuous ongoing expansion of hospitality and retail projects in Thailand, the group has diversified further with the launch of its first quick service restaurant business in 2011 under the famous Japanese sanuki udon brand Marugame Seimen, and the launch of its real estate consultancy and asset management service covering all stages of development and investment and investment structuring. In 2012, the group launched Treetops Pattaya, its first condominium project. Over the years, Mr. Thakral's successful launch and operations of projects has attracted the investment of world recognized financial and corporate institutions.

Simon Enders

Project Director

Simon Enders is one of Faithful+Goulds project directors specialising in the hospitality sector. Simon has over 20 years’ experience in the construction industry internationally, with eight years in the Middle East region. Simon has worked on a variety of high profile projects including the planning and delivery of complex hotel new build and refurbishment developments, ensuring clients’ requirements are met in respect of aesthetics, quality, cost, time and safety

Satyan Joshi

Senior Industry Manager
Google UK Limited

Satyan Joshi is a Senior Industry Manager in Google's UK Team based in London.
He is responsible for building and maintaining key client and agency relationships within
the Hotels sector and advises on best account practices and how to
get the most for clients through the range of tools made available to them by Google.

Satyan Joined Google in 2005 having already worked in Online Media for seven years ,
bringing a wealth of established digital experience

Christoph Hager

Associate Director, EAME Feasibility
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.

Christoph Hager is part of the Dubai-based Acquisitions & Development department for Starwood Hotels & Resorts.  With his recent relocation from Brussels to Dubai, Christoph is establishing an advisory group for the underwriting of transactions of new hotels, conversions and contract renewals in Africa and the Middle East.  Furthermore, the team focuses on the analysis and underwriting of Starwood's own development investments, leases, operating guarantees, renovations and other in-house consultancy assignments.
Previously, Christoph was responsible for sourcing hotel opportunities for Starwood’s nine brands and executing Starwood’s growth strategy in Central Europe. Christoph started his professional career with Starwood’s advisory group during which he worked on over eighty projects across Europe, Africa and the Middle East.  Other professional experiences include a tenure in Starwood’s Technical Services department and in hotel operations. 
Christoph has a Bachelor’s degree from Washington State University and a Higher Diploma in Hotel Management from Cesar Ritz University, Brig, Switzerland

Tejas Shah

Development Director, Sub-Saharan Africa
Hyatt International LLC

Solomon Tadesse

ETO (Ethiopian Tourism Organisation)

Ali Borhani

Founder CWO

Ali Borhani is the founder and the self-styled "Chief Welding Officer" of Incubeemea, which advises Senior Executives in Fortune 500 companies and allows them to enhance the value of their activities in the MENA region. Through his journey in the corporate world and start-ups, he has learned from both success and failure.

Until 2010, he was the Director of Corporate Strategy & Business Development at Bosch Siemens in MEA, where he guided the strategic direction of the distributor network in 25 countries. Before that, he was the Regional Sales Manager for Philips Consumer Lifestyle, and its Business Excellence Manager. At Philips, Ali grew sales by 45% in less than three years and built a solid distributor network that has allowed the business to continue growing ever since.

A Canadian with Iranian origins living in the UAE, Ali understands the sensitivities, markets and opportunities across the region. With hands-on experience at every key level and a deep understanding of MENA, Ali and his board open up a huge network of senior contacts across the region. His expertise and smart, often unconventional, but always culturally correct and incisive strategic thinking have assisted his clients to outperform and break through barriers in some of the most demanding frontier markets.

He mentors budding entrepreneurs in the region and also works with a number of not-for profit causes, NGOs and public private partnerships organizations, such as Gavi the Vaccine Alliance.

Ali's very strong interest in people is best illustrated by a quote from world-famous choreographer Pina Bausch: "I'm not interested in how people move, but what moves them."

Moses Solemon

Chairman and CEO
Canada Business Holdings Inc.

Mr. Solemon is a mature investor and visionary business strategist with 35 years business practice. He is active now in 7 different economic sectors with focus on hospitality in the MENA region as a high growth sector.

With current dynamic economic-political shifts, Mr. Solemon and team targets building sustainable and profitable projects for the next 50 years. The goal is to create true growth and provide vital needs for markets.

Ilja Poepper

Vice President
Wanda Hotels & Resorts

Mr. Poepper was born in Germany in 1971 and grew up with his parents in China from 1984-1991.After studying Chinese in the Beijing University for one year Poepper went back to Germany to study Hotel Management at the Steigenberger Hotel Management school in Bad Reichall followed by an apprenticeship with Steigenberger Graf Zeppelin in Stuttgart. Mr. Poepper returned back to China in 1998 and continued his carrier with various hotel groups like Zenith International, IHG and Howard Johnson. Before joining Wanda Hotels&Resorts as VP for S&M Global, Poepper was VP of Operations Greater China for over 25 operating and 40 pre-opening Howard Johnson and Wyndham Grand Plaza Royal Hotels sationed in Shanghai.

Lionel Benjamin

Topland Group of Companies
Director – Hotels

Lionel heads Topland’s hotel-focused activity, spearheading the firm’s plans to build a £1 billion hotel business and supporting Topland’s structured finance team on lending to the sector. With more than 25 years’ experience of the hospitality market, Lionel has held senior management roles with a range of major international hotel operating companies. His experience includes positions in both the operational and property side of the hotel sector, with a track record in increasing hotel EBITDA and subsequent value and identifying potential acquisition opportunities.

Prior to joining Topland in December 2013, Lionel was Head of the Hotel & Leisure Division at The Ability Group for over three years. Prior to this he held roles with Hilton, The Savoy, Hyatt and the Athaeneum Hotel. Lionel was awarded as an Honorary Professor in hospitality management from the University of West London and has undertaken further studies in Hospitality Management at Cornell University.

Tim Fox

Head of Research & Chief Economist
Emirates NBD

With over 25 years of international experience in the financial markets, Tim Fox has been serving as Chief Economist & Head of Research at Emirates NBD since November 2008.

In this capacity, he and his team support all the functions of the Bank. Tim is responsible for the development, coordination, and production of economic and financial analysis and reports, with a focus on global and regional economies and financial markets.

Prior to joining Emirates NBD, Mr. Fox served as Director of FX Strategy at Dresdner Kleinwort in London. He has previously held senior economics and strategy positions at a number of global financial institutions in London and New York, including Credit Suisse and Standard Chartered, where his focus ranged from G10 to emerging market economies.

Mr. Fox is a graduate of the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is a frequent commentator on global and regional business channels, and writes regular articles for a number of prominent newspapers and publications.

Rawaf Bourisli

Director of Development, Action Hotels & General Manager, Board Member, Action Real Estate Company (kscc)

With many years of professional experience in Architecture design, Project Management, and development, Mr. Bourisli is known as an expert in the field of mixed use and mid class developments.
His Academic interest was the advance of mix use architecture forms and vocabulary in Islamic Urban Planning during the last century.
While his professional Interest is Mix-Used development and Real Estate Development Management.
In 2006 he was appointed as Deputy General Manager, and promoted in 2007 to be General Manager of Action Real Estate Company (AREC) which was established in 2004 and then transformed into a Kuwaiti shareholding closed company in 2005 with a capital of KD 18 million. His hobbies are art (mainly baroque), history, literature, sketching and music.
In Addition, he enjoys travelling, reading, sea activities, and French cuisine.

Brian Fisher

Head of Project Management – Middle East

Brian is responsible for leading Faithful+Gould’s project management business focus across the Middle East. He has over 25 years' senior management experience within the project management construction industry and is skilled in the planning and delivery of complex projects.
Joining Faithful+Gould from the Confluence acquisition, Brian has delivered and overseen a number of large scale leisure, healthcare, retail and commercial complex projects in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Australia.

Graciëlla Karijomedjo

Project Coordinator and Researcher
European Tourism Futures Institute

Graciëlla Karijomedjo is project coordinator and researcher at the European Tourism Futures Institute in the Netherlands. Together with her team, she assists making companies in the tourism industry ‘future proof’ with scenario planning. Previously, Graciëlla worked as program leader Tourism Management for Stenden University in Qatar, where she was responsible for the tourism curriculum. Graciëlla holds a master’s degree from the University of North London in International Leisure & Tourism Studies and a master’s degree from the University of Leicester in Human Resource Development and Performance Management.

Dr Jeroen Oskam

Director of the Research Centre - Visiting Professor at EADA Barcelona & co-editor of the Journal of Tourism Futures
Hotelschool The Hague

Jeroen Oskam is Director of the Research Centre at Hotelschool The Hague (the Netherlands). As a futures researcher, he studies plausible developments in the next five to ten years in order to help companies and organisations anticipate opportunities and threats that lie ahead. Jeroen has worked in hospitality and tourism education in the Netherlands and in Spain. He is a visiting professor at EADA Barcelona and a co-editor of the Journal of Tourism Futures.

Mohamed Kamel

Chief Executive Officer
Egyptian Resorts Company (ERC)

Daniel Ruff

President and Managing Director (EMEAI)
Wyndham Hotel Group

Daniel Ruff is president and managing director of the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and Indian Ocean regions. In this role, Ruff is responsible for Wyndham Hotel Group’s strategic development and operational, marketing, revenue management and sales services to the company’s franchisees and development partners.    

Wyndham Hotel Group is pursuing growth for its broad portfolio of brands in key cities and markets throughout the region, with particular focus on the U.K., Germany, Turkey, the Middle East, India and Eastern Africa. In addition to optimising support for existing franchisees and development partners, the company also seeks to establish new partnerships and identify opportunities to continue the expansion of its diverse portfolio of offerings.

Ruff joins Wyndham Hotel Group from Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., in Brussels, Belgium, where he most recently led asset management for Europe, Africa and the Middle East, overseeing franchise services and operations as well as owner relations and portfolio and contract management.

Ruff held roles in corporate investments and development, brand integration and operations and special projects throughout his eleven-year tenure at Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. He began his career as an investment banking analyst with Credit Suisse First Boston in New York, New York.

He is based in the company’s London office.

Simon Lazarus

Vice President of Food and Beverage, Europe, Middle East and Africa
Hilton Worldwide

As Vice President of Food & Beverage (“F&B”) for Europe, Middle East & Africa, Lazarus is responsible for devising and implementing F&B strategy for the company’s operational hotels and hotels under development.
Based at Hilton Worldwide’s area office in Dubai, he has assembled an effective, growing team of F&B professionals since first arriving in the Middle East in 2008 as Senior Area Director of the department. Under his leadership, the F&B division has successfully developed into an award winning operation and is now one of the largest restaurant providers in EMEA.
Born in Montreal and raised in Jamaica, Lazarus graduated from both the Culinary Arts & the Hospitality Management programmes at Vancouver Island University.
He became an Apprentice Chef with Hilton Toronto in 1993 and moved up through the ranks working in flagship Hilton properties in Zurich, London, the Bahamas and Amsterdam, becoming Executive Chef in seven years. During his time as Executive Chef, he joined the Hilton European Area F&B team, developing standards manuals and contributing to the openings of several European hotels.

In 2006, he became Area Director of Food & Beverage for Hilton UK & Ireland, responsible for F&B operations in over 75 properties before relocation to Dubai.

In 2014 he became Vice President of F+B for EMEA and under his leadership, the F&B division has successfully developed into an award-winning operation and, with some 381 restaurants and 429 bars in EMEA, is now one of the largest restaurant providers in the region serving more than 45 million guests per year in Hilton Worldwide’s restaurants, bars and more than 5.8 millions square meters of meeting space.

He is responsible for 14 corporate staff, and a team of more than 23,000 F&B Team Members across 70 countries in Europe, Middle East and Africa. 


Rafi-uddin Shikoh

Chief Executive Officer & Managing Director

Rafi-uddin is the Founder and CEO of DinarStandard - a specialized market research and advisory firm focused on the emerging Islamic markets of Halal/Tayyab food, Muslim travel market, Islamic/Ethical Finance, and OIC member countries. He is passionate about empowering organizations for profitable and responsible global impact. Since 2008, Rafi-uddin has been advising global multi-nationals, Islamic financial institutions, Halal market startups and NGOs on market expansion analysis, business/investment strategy, and innovative marketing strategies.
Rafi-uddin has led various market studies on the Muslim markets globally including: State of the Global Islamic Economy, Global Muslim Lifestyle Tourism Market, DS100™ ranking of Top 100 Businesses in the Muslim World, Social Responsibility Survey of Islamic Financial Institution, State of Food Insecurity & Opportunities in OIC Countries, Productivity in Ramadan Survey, and various other such reports. He is a frequent speaker on innovation, marketing, social business, and Muslim customer strategies, and has presented at prestigious industry conferences at Oxford University, Harvard University, Jeddah Economic Forum, Dubai International Conference for Awqaf, International Food Conference Turkey, and IIUM Malaysia.
Prior to DinarStandard, Rafi-uddin had been a Vice President with Marsh Inc, a global risk-brokerage firm, where he led and successfully delivered multi-million dollar knowledge management and marketing technology related initiatives. He had previously served as a Senior e-Business Consultant at a Boston a based firm. Rafi-uddin has an MBA from UNC-Charlotte, North Carolina, and a BSc. in Marketing from Southwest State, Minnesota, USA.

Suparat Chirathivat

Vice President - Business Development
Centara Hotels & Resorts

Suparat Chirathivat is the Vice President of Centara International Management (CIM), the division of Centara Hotels & Resorts (CHR) that was established to grow the multi-brand portfolio of CHR in both Thailand and overseas. His focus is on driving strategic partnerships for CHR while expanding CHR’s portfolio of international destinations.
During his seven years with CIM, Suparat has helped increase CHR’s portfolio from 11 to 74 hotels, 80% of which are managed properties. He has also overseen the introduction of the Centara Hospitality Experience to eleven countries.
Prior to joining CHR, Suparat held a number of directorships and participated on the boards of many IT companies in the United States. He was also a consultant for US Robotics. His other experiences include serving as the CEO of Maxtec Development INC. and as the president of POP Network Company Limited.
Suparat has an MBA from the Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California (USC). He also has an undergraduate degree in Marketing & Finance from USC.

Munir Ahmed

Director Hospitality
Naseel Holding

A graduate of Ealing Hotel School London, Munir Ahmed worked in the West End of London at The Cumberland Hotel Marble Arch and the Grosvenor House on Park Lane with Trust House Forte Hotels.
Transferring to the Middle East as Director of Marketing with InterContinental Hotels, before going on to a career spanning 22 years with Hyatt International Hotels as General Manager for Hyatt Regency Riyadh, Grand Hyatt Muscat and Park Hyatt Jeddah with the additional responsibility as Area Director for Hyatt Hotels in Saudi Arabia.

Mark Shea

Head of Hospitality for the Middle East

Mark Shea is Faithful+Gould’s head of hospitality for the Middle East region.
He has been in the industry for 20 years, most recently as head of hotels and resorts for Aecom (Davis Langdon) across Europe following his return to the UK from working in the UAE in 2010. He has since been responsible for delivering integrated project, cost and commercial management for numerous large-scale hospitality developments across the UK and Europe and the Middle East.

His Excellency Hesham Abdulla Al Qassim

Chief Executive Officer
wasl Asset Management Group

Mr. Hesham Abdulla Al Qassim is the Chief Executive Ocer for wasl Asset Management Group
and is responsible for leading the organisation’s transformation into a world-class asset
management company. He is also the Deputy Chairman of Emirates NBD Bank PJSC, the
Chairman of Emirates Islamic, one of the leading Islamic banks in the region and Emirates NBD
Egypt; both are subsidiaries of Emirates NBD PJSC.
Mr. Al Qassim’s leadership role at wasl has seen him spearhead asset management, real estate,
hospitality and project development. This portfolio of achievement, combined with a wealth of
financial sector experience from over 17 years in the banking industry, makes him one of the most
experienced CEOs in the region.
Under Mr. Al Qassim’s stewardship, wasl has achieved remarkable success in the management
and ownership of large-scale real estate projects undertaken for the government of Dubai. He
was responsible for restructuring and developing a clear mechanism for the Group’s provision of
high quality services, which included operating three key subsidiaries; wasl properties, wasl
hospitality and leisure and dubai golf. wasl properties is a leading real estate company that
manages over 30,000 units across Dubai. wasl hospitality owns and manages several
international 5-star hotel chains in Dubai, while dubai golf is home to two world-ranked golf
courses across the emirate. This portfolio expansion was achieved in the face of the toughest
global economic conditions.
Mr. Al Qassim’s current Chairmanship roles at Emirates NBD, Emirates Islamic and Emirates NBD
Egypt reflect his prominent role in shaping the future direction of these prestigious institutions.
Mr. Al Qassim’s senior level financial experience includes a period as General Manager at the
National Bank of Dubai, during which he was an architect for new strategies in retail and
corporate banking as well as treasury and trade finance. His innovations led the bank to become a
leading financial institution in the United Arab Emirates.
Mr. Al Qassim is an advocate for the importance of recognising and developing local talent. This
commitment to nurturing home-grown skills and abilities led him to becoming one of the
founders of the Young Arab Leaders organisation and a board member of the National Human
Resources Development Committee in the Banking and Financial Sector.
Mr. Al Qassim’s other board memberships include Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC)
Authority, DIFC Investments LLC., National General Insurance Co., Amlak Finance and Emirates
Institute for Banking and Financial Studies (EIBFS), as well as the International Humanitarian City.
His professional and vocational qualifications include a Bachelor’s Degree in Banking and Finance
and a Master’s Degree in International Business Management and in Executive Leadership

Tarna Schmidt

Director - Hotel Development
FREO Financial & Real Estate Operations GmbH

Tarna Schmidt joined the FREO Group as Director Development (Hotels) in 2015.  Since moving to Europe in 2007, she has specialised in leading international business development and investment, with particular focus on hotels in the last 3 years.

FREO is currently developing projects with total investment costs of approx 1,2 billion Euros inter alia; a Hotel 25 hours in Munich close the main central station, a Hampton by Hilton, a Garden Inn in Munich and an Adina Apartment Hotel in Nuremberg.

Madline Dong

Chief Executive Officer
The Centre of Asia Hotel Forum

Madline Dong possesses 20 years work experiences in travel and hospitality industry. She has got great insights in travel, hotel and lifestyle field and is very familiar with company HR  practices at the same time. Since Feb 2008, Madline has represented numerous well-known international companies for senior managerial level recruitment. Prior to joining  AHF as CEO, Madline was MD for  Star Team, Greater China, General Manager China for Portfolio, a well-known recruitment brand and is recognized the top-tier specialist recruitment consultancy in hospitality and leisure, based in UK and APAC region.

Madline commenced her career with airline in the mid 90’s and further developed her career in the leading travel management company-American Express’s subsidiary in China. In 2005, Madline joined in McKinsey & Company, was taking care for the whole firm’s travel management in Shanghai. Her responsibilities include strategic corporate travel planning and overall management. Madline is a highly articulate and influential people manager who's a great communicator. She's considerate and  really understands what it takes to deliver results, manages risks, takes balanced approach and always focus on a positive outcome. She seems to understand  the nuts and bolts of what a good solution entails.

Kristijan Dzambazovski

Director Agency for Promotion and Support of Tourism
Government of the Republic of Macedonia

Hristijan Delev

Deputy Minister of Economy
Government of the Republic of Macedonia

Significant international  management/consultant experience coupled with a high-ranking   political  career  is  an  advantage   for  the  implementation   of carefully  tailored  strategies  and  programs  on  both  a macro  and  a micro level. Leading the top national FDI team and global network of economic promoters.  Created   largest  and  most   diversified   system  of  agricultural subsidies in the wider SEE region based on market  needs and trends which impacted   national  net  exports  and  FDI.  My  experiences  in  consulting  , mergers  &  acquisitions, working with the largest  FDI  in region,  tendering procedures,   and my extensive international  personal  relationships  on both business and political levels are my greatest assets.

H.E. Vladimir Peshevski

Vice Prime Minister for Economic Affairs
Government of the Republic of Macedonia

Vladimir Peshevski
Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs
Born on June 19, 1970.
 2009-present
Government of the Republic of Macedonia
Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs: Coordination of economic departments and institutions in the Government of the Republic of Macedonia, with special focus on the big infrastructural projects, attracting and facilitating the work for the big foreign and local investors, improvement of the business climate and creating economic policies for accelerated economic development.
 2005-2009
General Manager, SEAF South Balkan Fund, and partner in the International Investment Fund for direct investments with focus on private companies in the Balkans, with branch-offices in the Netherlands, Serbia and Macedonia. He has been a main investment consultant during the sale of several companies from Serbia and Kosovo to foreign investors with a total market value of euro 100 million.
 2004-2007
Lecturer of M.A. studies at the Sheffield University - Program of the City College in Thessaloniki, on the subject Strategic Management.
 2003-2006
Member of the First Board of Directors of the American Chamber of Commerce in Macedonia;
Member of the National Council for Entrepreneurship and Competitiveness
 2001
Short-term advisor to President Boris Trajkovski, in the period after the crisis in 2001, on economic policies and measures in the areas affected by the crisis.
 1998-2005
General Manager, SEAF Macedonia, International Investment Fund for direct investments with focus on private companies in Macedonia. He had directly and successfully conducted negotiations with several new foreign investors, who further invested in Macedonia over euro 300 million.
 1996-1998
Management consultant for strategic management and finances in the Macedonian Business Center, USAID project. He cooperated and provided consultant support to over 50 Macedonian companies, with special focus on development of long-term business plans, investment analyses and important investment decisions.
 1993-1996
Assistant in the Center for Research in New Technologies within the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts. Scientific research work on power engineering projects, with an emphasis on power industry strategies, electric energy distribution systems, renewable energy recourses and environmental protection.
M.A. in business administration, the University of Sheffield, England (program affiliated with the City College in Thessaloniki).
Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering at the Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje.

Ignace Bauwens

Abu Dhabi National Hotels

A veteran hotelier with more than 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry, Ignace Bauwens was appointed CEO of Abu Dhabi National Hotels in 2014. Hailing from Belgium, Ignace began his career in food and beverage in a number of hotels in his home country, earning his way up to a number of leadership positions with the ACCOR Group. His successful background includes both property and group corporate roles covering Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa, before moving to Dubai World Trade Centre as Senior Vice President of Hotels and Hospitality Development in 2007.
Prior to joining ANDH, Ignace assumed the role of Vice President of Operations for Intercontinental Hotels Group looking after the UAE, Near East, and Africa, where he oversaw the management of more than 43 hotels.
Ignace’s natural ability to identify opportunities allowed him to showcase his proficiency in steering business growth within the highly competitive hospitality sector. His wealth experience in this field led him to hold key management positions, thus empowering him to capitalize on developments across the industry and in various geographical areas such as Belgium Germany, Austria, Luxembourg, the Middle East and Africa.
His expertise is evidenced by a series of accolades: Ignace was awarded the Silver Bernache for Financial and Economic Accomplishments by the Board of Directors of the ACCOR Group in 2005; appointed the coordinator and spokesman to the Dubai Tourism & Commerce Marketing representing all four star hotels in Dubai from 2004 to 2005.
Ignace is known in the industry for his creative and visionary approach when it comes to challenging situations. His dynamic leadership style encompasses the development of high performing company culture, strategic analysis and innovative problem solving. 
Ignace holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Hotel Management from HTI (now Vives) in Brugge, Belgium, and is fluent in English, French, German and Dutch. He resides with his family in Abu Dhabi.

Philippe Zuber

Chief Operating Officer
Emaar Hospitality Group

As Chief Operating Officer for Emaar Hospitality Group, Philippe Zuber brings with him over 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry.
Within his role, Philippe manages the overall operations of the organisation, while working to develop and implement strategies that drive the group’s profitability.

Spearheading projects within Emaar Hospitality Group’s subsidiaries, Philippe focuses on expanding its five-star premium brand The Address Hotels + Resorts as well as Vida Hotels and Resorts, Rove Hotels, a joint venture of Emaar with Meraas Holding, and the group's leisure clubs including Arabian Ranches Golf Club, Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club and Dubai Marina Yacht Club.

Philippe joined The Address Hotels + Resorts in 2011 as General Manager of Emaar Hospitality Group’s flagship hotel, The Address Downtown Dubai. The brand today has a portfolio of five premium properties in Dubai in addition to having secured management agreements to operate hotels in Egypt, Turkey, Kenya and Nigeria.

Under his leadership, Vida Hotels and Resorts has also defined its niche in the industry offering a refreshingly different hotel concept for the new generation of business executives, entrepreneurs and leisure travellers. Billed as ‘an urban hub where inspiring minds stay, play and connect,’ the first outlet in the novel hotel chain is Vida Downtown Dubai, launched in May 2014, offering 156 rooms.

Manzil Downtown Dubai, managed by Vida Hotels and Resorts, is another distinctive property defined by its contemporary Arabesque design elements and elegant décor that embodies the region’s cultural identity. Philippe has been integrally associated with the newly launched Rove Hotels, which further serve as a contemporary new mid-market hotel brand delivering value hospitality experiences for the young and young at heart global traveller.

Philippe also leads Emaar Hospitality Group’s Lifestyle Dining division having introduced several concepts including At.mosphere, Burj Khalifa; Madeleine; The Palace Café, La Serre Bistro and Boulangerie on Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, and CUT by Wolfgang Puck, the award-winning, modern American steak restaurant by legendary chef and restaurateur Wolfgang Puck, at The Address Downtown Dubai.

Prior to becoming COO, Philippe served as the Regional General Manager of The Address Hotels + Resorts, in addition to providing his expertise as General Manager. In his previous role, he focused on the standardisation of operations, ensuring high levels of service delivery, product quality in line with brand standards, and improved guest engagement within the hotels.

Under his insightful leadership, The Address Hotels + Resorts was adjudged as the ‘Best Hotel Chain the Middle East’ at the Global Traveller Awards US 2013 and 2014, while The Address Downtown Dubai was feted as the ‘Best Individual Hotel in the World’ for the fourth consecutive year. Philippe has also won the Best General Manager of the Year 2011 from Monocle magazine.

Having studied Hotel Management in his native country of France, Philippe then went on to do his Masters Degree in Finance & Management in the Hotel Industry. Before joining Emaar Hospitality Group, Philippe gained extensive experience in the hospitality industry, working for internationally renowned hotel brands across a wide array of countries, including Hong Kong, South Korea, France, Germany, Morocco and the US. He is married and has two children.

Cristina Coronel

Undersecretary of Tourism and Promotion
Ministry of Tourism for Ecuador

Sandra Naranjo

Minister of Tourism
Ministry of Tourism for Ecuador

Sandra Naranjo, was born in Ambato, province of Tungurahua, Ecuador, studied economics for 12 years, graduated with honors in Economics and Finance with a minor in mathematics, also has a Masters in Public Administration and International Development at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, title that reached as awarded a grant from the Secretary  of Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation (Senescyt).  She has also a Higher Diploma in Design, Management and Evaluation Development, awarded by the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO).  She worked closely with the President of the Republic of Ecuador, Rafael Correa Delgado, for five years, serving as General Coordinator of Management Control of Presidential Commitments, where she developed the Presidential Commitment system, which is used until today to follow and achieve results in priority government programs.
In this new challenge, which assumes the portfolio of Tourism, Sandra Naranjo, has committed a passion to work for her country, part of a vision of tourism as an economic instrument to achieve development, therefore her arrival at the Ministerio de Turismo del Ecuador, will bring fresh ideas to continue the line to convert Ecuador into a Tourism Power and consolidate the objective of transforming tourism into the first source of earnings. Continuing the work of the outgoing Minister Vinicio Alvarado, Sandra Naranjo, seek to grow tourist arrivals at least, by 10% this year compared with 2013. In this regard, the Minister Sandra Naranjo has committed all her efforts and knowledge for Ecuador to continue on it’s way to be a tourist power and for that, the Ministry of Tourism will continue to work with all stakeholders of this important sector  as a economic development in Ecuador.

Mohamed Khaleel

Chief Operating Officer
Reollo Travel & Niyama Maldives

Mr. Mohamed Khaleel is a highly motivated executive with over 20 years of accomplished career record, known throughout the tourism industry for being a versatile, enthusiastic, competent person delivering solid performance.

Being the Chief Executive Officer of Reollo Group of Companies, he oversees the daily operations of the company. His insight to the operations of the company has made Reollo Group of companies one the most successful companies of Maldives.

Mr. Mohamed Khaleel’s role as an Executive Board Member of Maldives Association of Travel Agents & Tour Operators (MATATO) has widened his contributions to the tourism industry of Maldives. His advancement in the field has been a result of his enthusiasm and determination to develop the tourism industry of Maldives.

Erik Steger

Wolf Theiss Attorneys at Law

Erik Steger specializes in real estate matters across the CEE/SEE region. The primary focus of his practice is on the hotel and leisure industry, the investment and divestment of commercial property with cross-border elements and joint venture opportunities. Erik has been involved in numerous significant hotel projects throughout the entire Central and Eastern Europe region and is highly regarded amongst clients and peers for his expertise in the hospitality industry and, in particular, in the area of hotel sale and acquisitions and hotel management. Furthermore he has in-depth knowledge in the areas of financing, mergers and acquisitions, and restructuring. Erik is admitted to the bar in Austria and is a Registered European Lawyer in the Slovak Republic and in the Czech Republic. He also obtained an LL.M. degree from the College of Europe, Bruges, and is a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (MRICS).

Patrik Scherrer

Managing Partner
Patrik Scherrer & Partner GmbH

Current position Managing Partner
Patrik Scherrer & Partner
Bellevue im Park, Morillonstrasse 87, CH-3007 Bern

Functions Management member & Chairman Finance Committee
Hotelleriesuisse (Swiss Hotel Association)   (since 2008)
Board member Selnau Gastro AG Zurich / Swiss Casinos (since 2014)
Formerly Board member Bern Tourism  (2001–2013)
President Hotellerie Bern + Mittelland (2003–2012)


1995 Hotel Management Diploma, Swiss Hotel Association
Post-graduate studies, Swiss Hotel Association

July 1992 Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA

April 1990 Swiss Federal Hotel Management Diploma
Swiss Hotel Management School Lucerne

2002 - 2014 Kongress + Kursaal Bern AG
Hotel Allegro Bern AG
General Manager - CEO
• Responsible for operational management of the entire enterprise and reporting to the management board
• 250 staff, annual turnover approximately CHF 35 million
• Extensive Construction and Project Management
2009 - 2014  Chairman of the board Catering Company Wälchlifeste AG 
• 100% Kongress + Kursaal subsidiary; tent construction and catering CHF 8  million.
1996 - 2002 Hotel Allegro Bern AG
Opening Hotel Manager
• 4* Superior Hotel Worldhotels, 171 rooms
1995 - 1996 Hotel Astoria Lucerne, 4*
Assistant General Manager / Head of HR
Jan. 1993 - Dec. 1994 Grand Hotel National Lucerne, 5*
Rooms Division Manager
Nov. 1990 - Dec. 1992 Mövenpick Hotel Egerkingen, 4*
Head of Sales - Marketing Manager

Jean Luc Naret

Senior Vice President F&B, Jumeirah Group , Managing Director, Jumeirah Restaurant Group Dubai

Jean-Luc is a passionate hotelier with a proven experience in the luxury hotel business in opening and repositioning luxury hotels and extravagant resorts around the world. In the last two decades, his international management experiences include properties such as One&Only, St Geran in Mauritius, One&Only Ocean Club in the Bahamas, The Trianon Palace in Versailles, The Residence in Mauritius and the legendary Sandy Lane in Barbados that he reopened in 2000 after a $US 450 million dollar investment. In the last decade, at the helm of the iconic Michelin Guides, he took the French based company into a global brand with the launching of new destinations such as: New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Chicago, Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Hong Kong and Macau among other cities. While travelling for more than 300 days a year, staying in the best hotels and eating in the best restaurants around the world, he is the man who knows the best the top end luxury of hoteliers and celebrities chefs. Due to his passion and his knowledge of hotels and restaurants around the globe, Jean-Luc appeared in most of the major publications worldwide and in major TV shows such as Envoye Special, 60 minutes, Martha Stewart among others. Jean-Luc is invited to many international events as guest speaker, and his views on this industry are regularly quoted in the press. He is also a columnist and writes for various major publications. The French Government awarded him as Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur for his contribution to the travel industry.  He now lives in Paris with his partner Colette where he has created his own consultant firm.

John T.A Vanderslice

Global Head, Luxury & Lifestyle Brands
Hilton Worldwide

John T.A. Vanderslice is global head of Hilton Worldwide’s luxury and lifestyle brands – Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, and Canopy by Hilton – and leads each brand’s development strategies, operations and product innovation, training and culture, and global marketing initiatives.

Vanderslice joined Hilton Worldwide in September 2009 and now oversees 50 luxury and lifestyle properties located in the world’s most sought-after and desired leisure and business destinations. Prior to his role with Hilton Worldwide, he has worked at such notable companies as Club Med, Inc. and Kraft General Foods.

Vanderslice previously served as president and CEO of Club Med Americas, operator of more than 65 leisure resorts around the world, where he led Club Med's operations in North and South America. He was credited with successfully integrating Club Med's marketing and commercial activities, finance and operations while repositioning the all-inclusive resorts as upscale destinations.

Prior to joining Club Med, Inc., Vanderslice served as CEO for Miraval Spa in Tucson, Ariz., and was instrumental in transforming the 13-year old spa into a top-ranked lifestyle resort.

Vanderslice has also held executive positions with Triarc Restaurant Group, Fort Lauderdale, and its subsidiaries, including Arby's and T.J. Cinnamons, Inc. Prior to that, he served in a leadership capacity overseeing legacy brands and new product introductions for Kraft General Foods.

A leader in the business community, Vanderslice has served on the boards of the Bethesda Hospital Foundation in Boynton Beach, Fla., and Junior Achievement of White Plains, NY.

Vanderslice received a Bachelor of Science degree from Boston College School of Management.

Roger Blackall

Executive Director – Real Estate Asset Management
Premier Group WLL

Abdulla Ziyath

Managing Director
Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC)

Abdulla Ziyath is the Managing Director of the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC), a corporation wholly owned by the Government of the Maldives. Ziyath holds a Bachelors Degree with Honours in Business from the UK as well as a Masters of Business Administration from Australia. Early on in his career Ziyath worked as an Assistant Director at the Ministry of Trade and Economic Development and later founded and operated a successful Advertising and Public Relations company in the Maldives.
As the Managing Director of MMPRC; Ziyath heads both destination and investment promotion for the tourism sector of the Republic of Maldives. Under his watch Maldives Marketing and PR Corporation annually participates in multiple destination promotion events across Europe and Asia promoting quality and sustainable growth in the tourism industry. Ziyath’s main focus as Managing Director is to deliver long-term economic, social and cultural benefits for the Maldives.
Additionally, Ziyath oversees tourism investment promotion and is responsible for identifying and attracting potential tourism investments for the Maldives. He is also mandated to execute the pilot integrated resort project “Thumburi” in Laamu Atoll by the President of Maldives.

Clarence Tan

Senior Vice President, Development, Asia, Middle East & Africa

Clarence Tan is the Senior Vice President of Development based in Singapore and leads the development efforts for all IHG brands, focusing on growing IHG’s presence across key markets in Asia, Middle East & Africa.
Prior to the appointment of his current role, Clarence was the Chief Operating Officer overseeing Southeast Asia (SEA) and Resorts, based in Bangkok. He was then responsible for the operations and performance of nearly 70 hotels in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Philippines.
This year marks Clarence's decade-long career with IHG. He joined the company in 2004 as Head of Finance for the Asia Pacific region, and took on the role of CFO and Head of Operations Support for Asia and Australasia in 2009. Clarence then moved to Tokyo in January 2011 to take on the role of CEO of the IHG-ANA Joint Venture in Japan, overseeing IHG hotels in Japan and Korea before heading Asia Australasia in November 2011.
Prior to joining IHG, Clarence held managerial positions with Raffles Hotels & Resorts. He has more than 16 years of management and consulting experience and spent the majority of his career in the accounting and hospitality sectors. Clarence's earlier work experience included Property Management at Pontiac Marina Pte Limited and three years at PriceWaterHouseCoopers as a Public Accountant. He graduated from Nanyang Technology University, Singapore in 1992.

Bart Dohmen

Managing Director
BRC Imagination Arts, BV

From his early years as a technical engineer at LaserPromotions BV, through his many years in marketing and new business development at Bosch Rexroth, Bart Dohmen has worked with clients around the world to turn their creative dreams into physical reality. Bart brings a wealth of experience and extensive leadership skills to BRC’s European office in Eindhoven, The Netherlands as its Managing Director, where he serves our continental European, Middle Eastern and African clients. As part of the BRC design team, Bart was responsible for the planning for Floriade 2012, the world horticultural fair. Bart’s other BRC projects include The Heineken Experience, Amsterdam; Dolfinarium, The Netherlands; Spaceport Shenyang, China; Freej Themepark, Dubai; Gläserne Manufaktur, Volkswagen, Dresden, Germany; and Rotterdam Zoo, The Netherlands.

Prior to joining BRC, Bart worked on several other high profile projects throughout the world including The London Eye, Catastrophe Canyon, Disneyland Paris, HollandRama at the Open Lucht Museum, The Netherlands, and the Technology Museum of Thessaloniki, Greece.

In addition, Bart is a past chairman of, and served on, the TiLE (Trends in Leisure Entertainment) Committee and is a frequent speaker at many different conferences across Europe. Bart is also a guest lecturer at the NHTV, Breda University of Applied Sciences in The Netherlands

Bart earned an MBA from the NIMBAS Graduate School of Management/Bradford University as well as a BS in Electronic Science from the Hoge Technische School.

Arne M. Sorenson

President and Chief Executive Officer
Marriott International, Inc.

Arne M. Sorenson is President and Chief Executive Officer of Marriott International, Inc., a leading global lodging company with more than 4,100 lodging properties in more than 79 countries and territories and reported revenues of more than $14 billion in fiscal year 2014.
Marriott International operates and franchises hotels and licenses vacation ownership resorts under 18 brands, including Marriott Hotels, The Ritz-Carlton, JW Marriott, Bulgari, EDITION, Renaissance, Gaylord Hotels, Autograph Collection, AC Hotels by Marriott, Moxy Hotels, Courtyard, Fairfield Inn & Suites, SpringHill Suites, Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites, Protea Hotels, Marriott Executive Apartments and Marriott Vacation Club.
Previously, Mr. Sorenson was Marriott’s President and Chief Operating Officer.  Earlier, he served as Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, and President of Continental European Lodging, with responsibility for lodging operations and development in the continental European region, as well as the company’s overall financial functions.
Prior to joining Marriott in 1996, Mr. Sorenson was a partner with the law firm Latham & Watkins in Washington, D.C., where he specialized in mergers and acquisitions litigation.
Mr. Sorenson was elected to Marriott International’s Board of Directors in 2011. In January 2015, he was elected chair of the Brand USA board, and also serves on the President’s Export Council and the Luther College Board of Regents.
Mr. Sorenson co-founded Marriott’s Global Sustainability Council in 2007.  In 2008, he launched Marriott’s rainforest preservation partnership with the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation in Brazil.  He is also chairman of Marriott’s Global Diversity and Inclusion Council and on the Marriott Board of Directors’ Committee for Excellence, a board subcommittee focused on diversity. Together, the Council and Committee monitor and evaluate our company’s strategy to promote a diverse workforce, as well as ownership, customer and vendor communities around the world.  He also writes a blog as an Influencer on LinkedIn and has about 215,000 followers.
Mr. Sorenson is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School and Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.

Ivanka Trump

Executive Vice President of Development & Acquisitions
The Trump Organization

As Executive Vice President of Development & Acquisitions of The Trump Organization, Ms. Trump is charged with the domestic and global expansion of the company’s real estate interests. Along with her father, Donald J. Trump and her siblings, Donald Jr. and Eric, Ms. Trump, who joined the organization in 2005, directs all areas of the company’s real estate and hotel management platforms.

Ms. Trump actively participates in all aspects of both Trump® and Trump branded projects, including deal evaluation, pre-development planning, financing, design, construction, sales and marketing, and ensuring that Trump’s world-renowned physical and operational standards are met.  She is involved in all decisions—large and small—from the acquisition phase to determining the interior selections for residences and hotel suites. 

Since joining The Trump Organization, one of Ms. Trump’s primary focuses has been development and expansion of the Trump® Hotel Collection brand. Ms. Trump founded the Trump Hotel Collection with her brothers in 2007. Today, the company is regarded as one of the fastest growing and leading hotel management companies in the industry. Presently the Trump Hotel Collection portfolio includes highly acclaimed properties in New York; both on Central Park and in SoHo, Chicago, Las Vegas, Waikiki Beach, Panama, Toronto, Miami, and coming soon Washington, D.C., Vancouver, and Rio. Since inception the Trump International Hotel & Tower flag has garnered much praise within the luxury hospitality industry.

In addition to overseeing operations, Ms. Trump also spearheads all interior design decisions for the Trump Hotel Collection portfolio and provides the creative vision for the brand as a whole. Across Trump properties, she works extensively alongside the most talented designers in the world, including with David Rockwell on the interiors of Trump SoHo™ New York and Trump Rio, Hirsch Bedner in Panama and WATG in Miami.

In February 2012, The Trump Organization was selected by the General Services Administration (GSA) as the developer of iconic The Old Post Office Building on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C., which is heralded as the most sought after redevelopment opportunity in the country. Ms. Trump led the charge on this incredibly competitive RFP process.

Shortly after winning the RFP process for the The Old Post Office Building, The Trump Organization acquired Doral Hotel & Spa in Miami, Florida, which is now called Trump National Doral. Ms. Trump also spearheaded this acquisition and is responsible for overseeing the 250 million dollar renovation of this 800 acre property in the heart of Miami, which is nearing completion.

In October 2012, Ms. Trump launched Trump International Realty, a luxury brokerage business catering to the elite clientele in both Trump Buildings and beyond. Ms. Trump put together a top tier team in the flagship office in New York that has already broken records for achieving some of the highest priced listings seen in New York.  Ms. Trump is also leading the charge for the expansion of Trump International Realty to major cities across the country.

In 2013 Ms. Trump began working on Trump International Golf Club, Dubai and the Trump Estates, a residential community of luxury villas at the epicenter of the region’s most incredible golf course designed by world-renowned course architect Gil Hanse. In addition to Ms. Trump’s involvement in the development of the world-class golf resort, she is responsible for the interior design of the villas, bringing an entirely new standard of luxury to the middle-east.

In addition to her work at The Trump Organization, Ivanka Trump is the founder of Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry, which launched to great success in 2009.  Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry now has boutiques in SoHo, New York and Beijing and is sold through luxury independent jewelers and department stores across the globe. Ms. Trump’s brand has evolved rapidly due to her innate understanding of modern luxury and a vision that fits perfectly into the lives of today’s intelligent, self-assured women, inspiring elegance in a new generation.

Building off of the brand’s established positioning, in August 2010, Ms. Trump announced Ivanka Trump Footwear which was recognized by Footwear News as “Launch of the Year”, a testament to the immediate success and excitement from the fashion industry. Shortly thereafter, Ms. Trump added categories including handbags, outerwear, apparel, sunglasses, fragrance, home décor, an additional line of accessories that will feature belts, hats, gloves and scarves and most recently children’s footwear. Recognized as the fastest growing brand in the fashion industry, Ms. Trump’s lines are being distributed on a large scale through retail partners including Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, Lord & Taylor, Macy’s, The Bay, Dillard’s, Zappos, Piperlime and many others.
In addition to her many business ventures, Ms. Trump is also a world famous media personality.  She has been featured in hundreds of outlets worldwide including Forbes, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair, CNN, CNBC, NBC’s The Today Show, Town & Country, Harper's Bazaar, Elle, Elle Décor, Vogue, W, Golf for Women and many others.

Ms. Trump is currently one of the stars of NBC’s wildly successful “Celebrity Apprentice” with her father Donald J. Trump, and brothers Donald, Jr. & Eric.  She previously appeared on NBC’s Emmy nominated, globally syndicated “The Apprentice” as an advisor. 

In October 2009, Touchstone Hardcover, a division of Simon & Schuster, published Ms. Trump’s first book, a New York Times and Wall Street Journal Best Seller, THE TRUMP CARD: Playing to Win in Work and Life. 

In March 2010, Ms. Trump announced her involvement as a founding partner of U.N. Foundation’s Girl Up initiative, a campaign to recruit young women to support U.N. programs for girls in developing countries.  Partnering with social activists such as Elizabeth Gore and Queen Rania of Jordan, the program hopes to bring awareness and career skills to young women around the world.  Ms. Trump is also involved with several other charitable organizations, including the Eric Trump Foundation and the New York City Police Foundation. 

Ms. Trump graduated Cum Laude from the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania and received a bachelor's degree in science in economics. Before joining The Trump Organization in 2005, Ms. Trump worked at Forest City Enterprises as a real estate project manager.

In 2012, Ms. Trump’s alma mater – the Wharton School at Pennsylvania University, awarded her with the Joseph Wharton Young Leadership Award for “early success in her career and…potential for leadership and lasting impact.”

Ms. Trump lives in New York City with her husband, publisher and businessman Jared Kushner, and their two children Arabella Rose and Joseph Frederick.

Simon Allison


Simon is the founding chairman of HOFTEL, the leading global association for hotel real estate investors who pay management or franchise fees to, or get rents from, the brands, with members’ portfolios now well above US$ 80 billion. Members include significant investors worldwide such as Host Hotels & Resorts, LaSalle Investment Management, Blackstone, Foncière des Murs, Algonquin, Canyon Equity, CapMan, CTF Development, Dolphin Capital, Swire Properties, Sun Hung Kai Properties and Harilela Hotels.  We also have domestic players like Tonstate and 4C Hotels in the UK, HR Group in Germany, Amburaya in Thailand, VinaCapital in Vietnam; and Ashford, Hersha, Sunstone, LaSalle and RLJ in the USA.

HOFTEL holds meetings for its members annually in Europe and Asia (and from 2015, in the USA) as well as publishing a quarterly Hotel Owners Journal.

Simon has widespread hotel industry experience, having been Chief Development Officer at Onyx Hospitality in Thailand from 2009 – 2013 and, prior to that, Chief Financial Officer of both luxury operator Six Senses and of hotel ownership company Hospitality Europe. Before that he worked for ten years in the corporate finance division of JP Morgan in London, coming to head up their EMEA hotel practice.

Simon has a First Class degree in Modern History from Christ Church, Oxford

Simon Barlow

Chief Executive Officer – Hotels Business Unit
Majid Al Futtaim Properties

Simon Barlow was appointed as the CEO of Hotels Business Unit at Majid Al Futtaim Properties in July 2014.

Simon is an accomplished and seasoned 35 year international hotel executive with broad exposure across the hotel and property sectors in Europe, the Americas and Asia Pacific.

Simon has held various senior management roles with Accor, Hilton and most recently, as President of Carlson Hotels Asia Pacific based in Singapore. He gained valuable experience in the hotel property sector in Australia working for the Australian investment bank Babcock & Brown, managing Asia Pacific’s then largest hotel wholesale property trust, TAHL, and as Managing Director of the publicly listed hotel REIT Grand Hotel Group.

Moritz Dietl

TREUGAST Solutions Group

Moritz Dietl is Director at TREUGAST Solutions Group in Munich, Germany.  Established in 1985 TREUGAST today is one of the leading consulting companies for the hospitality industry in Europe. The group has offices in Munich, Frankfurt and Shanghai. The three core business lines of TREUGAST - consulting, management and science - guarantee a unique blend of know-how and expertise in the field of hospitality.

Moritz Dietl has more than ten years of professional experience in the international hospitality industry and over five years of consulting and asset management experience. He heads TREUGAST’s consulting team and is responsible for all advisory work of the firm in Germany and the DACH-region. Prior to TREUGAST he worked with Hamilton Hotel Partners in London, where he was involved with hotel asset management projects throughout Europe and the Middle East. Before joining Hamilton he was a Business Analyst at Hyatt International for their hotels in Central Europe.

Moritz Dietl trained as a “Hotelfachmann” at Grand Hotel Esplanade Berlin and holds a diploma degree in Business Administration from the International University Bad Honnef / Bonn, Germany and a BA (Hons) in International Hospitality Management from the University of Brighton, UK. He is a regular guest lecturer at ADG Business School, the University of Applied Sciences Schwerin and the Munich University of Applied Sciences and he is co-author of the annual publication “TREUGAST Investment Ranking Germany”.

Tim Mitchell

CEO Europe
Global Student Accommodation Group

Tim Mitchell is a Chartered Surveyor with 23 years’ experience, including 14 years dedicated to the student accommodation sector.

Prior to the formation of GSA Group, Tim was Group Property Director at UNITE Group Plc, where he worked for over eight years. During this time the company’s portfolio increased from c.2,000 to over 38,000 beds. Tim was responsible for UNITE’s development pipeline outside London including acquisition, planning and construction; and also asset management activity associated with the group’s built portfolio.

Tim’s experience allows him to focus on major investment activity in the buisness, including fund raising and implementing investment, acquisition and development strategies. Since 2009 he been responsible for Real Estate strategy within GSA Group and in 2009 – 2010, Tim acted as Managing Director for the new Urbanest London business, leading the establishment of the team as it secured its initial round of pipeline transactions, including Hoxton, Tower Bridge, Kings Cross and Camden.

He is now responsible for leading the growth of GSA into Europe.

Alfredo Maria De Falco

Head of CIB Italy Network, Corporate & Investment Banking
UniCredit SpA

Alfredo has 18 years of experience in Corporate & Investment Banking.

He started his career at Banca IMI in 1986 and joined UniCredit in 2007 as Co-Head of Financial Sponsors & Leveraged Finance Italy.
In 2009 he was appointed Head of Corporate Structured Finance Italy and afterwards Head of Financing & Advisory Italy with responsibility on Corporate Structured Finance, Acquisition Finance, Corporate Lending, Capital Structure Advisory, Real Estate Finance and Advisory.

Starting from February 2014, he has been appointed Head of CIB Italy Network.

Alfredo did undergraduate studies at Warwick University and Federico II University of Naples and  graduated with honours in Economics in January 1994.
He got a Doctorate degree in Business Administration and Corporate Governance jointly from Universities of Rome, Naples and Verona, and is Professor of Acquisition & Leveraged Finance at Bocconi University in Milan (Master in Corporate Finance).

Sadiq Gillani

Senior Vice President, Chief Strategy Officer
Deutsche Lufthansa

Senior Vice President & Chief Strategy Officer of Lufthansa Group
Lecturer in Management, Stanford Graduate School of Business

  •  Member of Group Leadership Team and Group Finance Committee
  •  Member of Board of Directors of SunExpress airline
  •  Chairman of Lufthansa Consulting
  • Chairman of the Corporate Sustainability Council
  •  Chairman of the Lufthansa Innovation Hub GmbH

Sadiq Gillani has been the Chief Strategy Officer for Lufthansa Group since 2011. He is responsible for Corporate Strategy, Portfolio Strategy, Innovation, Business Development and Sustainability and has implemented several major
strategic projects.

He was previously the Chief Commercial Officer of a startup Brazilian low cost carrier based in Rio de Janeiro and has a decade of consulting experience.

He was a Partner with Seabury, a boutique airline consultancy, in Sydney and New York, advising airline clients across the world, including Qantas, Air Canada, US Airways, Malaysia Airlines and Etihad. He started his consulting career at Bain & Company in London and Johannesburg. He also supported with the launch of two startup airlines in the United States.

He is recognized as one of the travel industry's leading thinkers, delivering the first airline TED-Talk with over 100,000 views, serving on the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council for Travel and teaching one of the most popular MBA classes at Stanford University on the Travel & Airline Industry. In 2014 he was ranked number 57 by the Financial Times on their top 100 global LGBT business leaders list.

He completed his M.B.A. at Harvard Business School and holds a B.A. and M.Phil in Management Studies from Cambridge University. He is a keen traveller, having visited over 115 countries and lived on 6 continents.

More information can be found at:

Alexander Schröder

Executive Director Strategy

Alexander Schröder is executive director strategy in the Hamburg office of Landor Associates, responsible for a team of strategists to develop powerful brand strategy and identity programs.

After earning a master‘s degree in business administration from the University of Hamburg and studying economics in Aix-en-Provence in France, Alexander worked for various leading branding agencies and management consultancies in Germany. With more than 15 years of branding experience, he is an expert in brand strategy and brand management.

Prior to Landor, Alexander was director of marketing and brand management for the German media and licensing company EM.Entertainment. He was the architect of the brand platforms that refreshed international brands such as Vicky the Viking, Maya the Bee, and Heidi – brands loved by children all over the world.

Alexander has extensive prior experience as an integrated marketing communication strategist, working with leading firms that include Interbrand, KMS TEAM, MetaDesign, and The Brand Union.

Alexander‘s past list of clients contains a diverse range of categories, consumer segments, and companies, including BMW, MINI, Rolls-Royce, Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, Bugatti, MAN, Mercedes-Benz, BASF, Siemens, Karstadt, Lufthansa, IKEA, FC St. Pauli, Procter & Gamble, Mondelez, SAB Miller, Berlitz, Bausch & Lomb, REC – Renewable Energy Corporation, Vattenfall, and Olympus.

Philipp Schröder

Country Director Germany & Austria
Tesla Motors

Philipp Schröder joined Tesla as Country Manager Germany & Austria in February 2014. From October 2012 until January 2014, he was Director Sales and Business Development at Sonnenbatterie, the smart PV storage startup from Wildpoldsried. Before that, Philipp served as Head of Sales at Juwi Holding, a renowned renewable energy project developer, and co-founded the energy efficiency startup Nycon Energy. He holds an Executive Diploma in Renewable Energy Management from the University of St. Gallen and studied at University of Hamburg.

Peter Arnold

Director, Economic Advisory

Peter is a Director in Ernst & Young’s Economic Advisory team based in London, where his role includes assisting clients in understanding the impact of the macro-economy on their businesses.  Peter also has over 14 years of experience in advising firms on economic policy, sector regulation, and competition in over 20 countries across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.  His sector experience includes consumer products, leisure and entertainment , TMT, and transport.

Valerie Schuermans

Director of Business Development
Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group

Valerie Schuermans is in charge of Carlson Rezidor’s business development in the Benelux region and special projects across Southern Europe. Valerie has signed several significant deals in the past few years, which have strengthened the group’s position in core European markets such as The Netherlands, Spain and Greece.  She is also a key contributor to contract management solutions for existing partners of the company which have been vital in the current economic environment.

Before joining the Carlson Rezidor in 2009, Valerie started her career in the banking industry at KBC Real Estate NV, where she supported the team of Commercial Real Estate Finance for Central & Eastern Europe. In this role, Valerie led a number of large financial transactions in Central Europe and was introduced to hotel development activities through her activities in hotel real estate financing.

Valerie holds a master’s degree in Commercial Engineering by University of Antwerp (BE).

Rose Anderson

VP Branding
Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group

John Connolly

Head of UK Development
Dorsett Hospitality International Ltd

John’s experience spans over two decades ‎in the property development sector. Initially starting in the Property Consultancy industry, most recently working for McBains Cooper, he specialised in advising Clients on the acquisition of development opportunities, predominately in the leisure and residential sectors

John joined the Dorsett Hospitality International group in 2011 as Head of UK Development and is responsible for all activities on both the hotel and residential developments. The company has currently acquired 5 development sites (2 hotels, 2 Residential & 1 Serviced ‎Apartments) which totals circa £400m construction costs and are seeking more opportunities in the UK, mainly focusing on London.

Our Upper scale hotel site (operating under the Dorsett brand) with 317 bedrooms in Shepherds Bush opened in June 2014 and we are currently on site with 270 bedroom hotel in Aldgate.

Abdulla Ziyath

Managing Director
Maldives Marketing & PR Corporation

Jane Ashton

Director of Sustainability
TUI Group

Jane has been driving policies to steer TUI Group towards being a more sustainable business for over a decade.  Her focus has been to align sustainability with the business’s strategic imperatives so as to harness the power of tourism and maximise benefits for communities, for the environment, and for the company. TUI Group has received many awards for its sustainability work - recent examples being World Responsible Tourism Awards in 2013 and 2014 – and has been listed on FTSE4Good since 2005. It is the only company to have been in the UK Carbon Disclosure Leaders Index for 7 consecutive years, ranking joint 1st in 2014.  Jane works with industry peers and organisations on a national and international level to develop a more sustainable tourism industry, e.g. a member of the Advisory Committee to the  UN 10 Year Framework Programme for Sustainable Consumption & Production in Tourism, and Executive Board Member of the Global Council for Sustainable Tourism.

Jane joined TUI Group in the 1990s, working in commercial product and general management roles. Since 2001 she has pioneered sustainable tourism, becoming Director of Group Sustainable Development in March 2011.  She  has a degree from Bristol University, and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Sustainable Business from Cambridge University Programme for Industry.

For further information about Sustainable Development at TUI Group visit:

Jane Ashton

Director of Sustainability
TUI Group

Malcolm Preston

Global Leader - Sustainability and Climate Change

Malcolm Preston is Global Sustainability Leader at PwC leading a 700 strong team of sustainability and climate change experts.  Malcolm is an “expert generalist” on numerous Sustainability issues, but has a particular interest in how companies measure and manage the total impact of their operations in a more holistic manner. By valuing social, environmental, tax and economic impacts, he believes business leaders will have more insight to compare the overall impact of their strategies and investment choices and so be able to manage/optimise the trade-offs – a new system for a managing business.

Sustainability is not an issue that can be managed in isolation.   It plays a critical role in the trust, transparency and reputation agendas.  Malcolm spends most of his time engaging with the C suite on these issues. He is an accomplished speaker, most recently speaking at the United Nations MDG Innovation Forum hosted by Ban Ki Moon, and at the NY Stock Exchange to launch the 2013 CDP report.  He is delighted to be returning to the IHIF, where he delivered key note speeches in 2004, 2005 and 2006.

Malcolm also set up and lead PwC's Travel and Tourism group from 1995 to 2012, and still retains an over-sight role. He has spoken at every ABTA convention from 1995 to 2013  and most recently spoke on the subject of "Is your operation Net Positive?".   He is passionate about the role the hospitaility industry should play in furthering economic and social development whilst being environmentally responsible.

A graduate in Oceanography, Malcolm joined Coopers & Lybrand and qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1986.  After spells working in the US, Australia and Zambia, he became a Partner in 1996.  During his career he has advised large multinationals, entrepreneurial start-ups and lead the e-business team in the early 2000’s.  He has lead the Sustainability & Climate Change team since 2008.

Malcolm was born to travel, not so much to see the sights, but to meet the people and learn  about the culture.  He has driven across every continent in the world – except Antarctica.  His mantra is twofold – (1) never fly over somewhere if you have the time to do it by land, and (2) leave the places you visit as you find them.

David Topolewski


David Topolewski is CEO of ACQUIRE, a leading provider of mobile communication, upselling, and vocational skills development for the hospitality industry.   Through cloud-based mobile learning solutions, ACQUIRE helps hotels increase RevPAR, profitability and guest satisfaction. Mr. Topolewski is responsible for business development, product technology development, and strategy.  A strong proponent of m-learning, Mr. Topolewski has pursued the development of blended learning solutions, combining technology and teachers, to reach the underserved and provide new life opportunities through education for over a decade.

Mr. Topolewski is working with a number of other social businesses to help serve students in poor communities in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, and Myanmar.  Part of this effort is focused on getting support for One-Tablet-Per-Child, so that many children will have the opportunity for a good, affordable education, and break out of the poverty cycle
Upon graduating from Yale University, Mr. Topolewski joined Smith Barney (now Morgan Stanley) in corporate finance in New York, before transferring to Dallas.  He prepared and presented merger analyses and financing alternatives to clients in technology, energy, financial services, housing, and retail industries.  His completed deals included stock offerings, bond offerings, mergers, acquisitions, leveraged buy-outs, Master Limited Partnerships, and fairness opinions.

Mr. Topolewski earned his BA in Economics, with Distinction in the Major, at Yale University.  He earned his MBA at the Wharton School, at the University of Pennsylvania, majoring in Finance, with concentrations in Management and Operations.

Alexi Khajavi

Managing Director, D2
EVP, Questex Hospitality

Alexi Khajavi is Executive Vice President of Questex Hospitality + Travel and Head of Destination Develop Investment Services. He is responsible for the overall management and development of the company’s global hospitality and destination communications properties and events including the Hotel Management Group, the International Hotel Investment Forum (IHIF) Summit Series, Destination Develop and Destination Development Investment Services, HOTEC Operations & Technology and other destination and hotel investment events in the U.S., Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Khajavi, who brings more than 17 years of travel, outdoor and publications experience to his position, joined Questex in 2014 as senior managing director of Destination Develop, a new digital media platform covering global tourism industry investment opportunities at the destination level, and Destination Develop Investment Services, an in-house agency that develops marketing and matchmaking campaigns and services for destinations and private-sector businesses in tourism looking for investment.

Prior to joining Questex, Khajavi was senior vice president, global strategy, for MercuryCSC, a marketing agency specializing in the travel industry where he helped grow the firm’s client roster four-fold and designed global marketing campaigns for travel companies, tourism boards and airlines. Prior to MercuryCSC, he was one of the founding team members of a regional airline located in Central America and helped guide the airline in being the fastest growing travel company in the region between 2003 and 2010.

Concurrent with his Questex duties, Khajavi is senior business advisor at the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston; advisor board member at KERBspace Inc., a location-based sales and publishing platform; founder & president of Adventure Kapitalist, a venture capital firm; director on the executive board of Sustainable Travel International, Washington; and director on the board of governors of Nature Group, an airline and hotel management company based in Costa Rica.

Theresa Jaeger

Director, Real Estate & Asset Management
Hilton Worldwide

Theresa Jaeger is director, Real Estate and Asset Management, EMEA, Hilton Worldwide, based in London.  The team is responsible for all hotel real estate activities outside the Americas.  This includes oversight of a portfolio of more than 85 owned, leased, and joint venture hotels internationally.  The department has oversight of all capital investments and a leadership role in managing joint venture relationships and hotel real estate transactions.

Theresa joined the team in 2012 and is the lead underwriter for real estate transactions and main coordinator for all capital investment activities. She also asset manages the Turkish portfolio. Prior to her current role, Theresa worked in Hilton Worldwide’s feasibility team, where she prepared underwriting papers for agreements worth in excess of $140 million. Theresa also gained work experience at Marriott’s feasibility and valuation department in Zurich and at HVS’s consulting & valuation division in New York. Theresa holds a BSc in International Hospitality Management (Hons) from the Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne and a Master in Finance from London Business School.

Mike DeNoma

Chief Executive Officer

Mike joined glh in August 2012. New to the industry, he had previously been Chairman and CEO of Chinatrust Bank and before that CEO of the Global Consumer Bank and Board Director at Standard Chartered. He has held a range of executive-level positions at Procter & Gamble, Pepsico and Hutchinson Whampoa.( Health warning : He often uses these bio sections as a company advertisement so – apologies in advance.)

Under Mike’s leadership, glh is undergoing a significant 3 year  transformation – resetting standards in the guest experiences offered, and introducing an innovative new value centre management model in the hotels.

The guest experience across glh’s estate is being transformed with the rollout of 3 new global brands – Amba Hotels (launched Oct 2014), every Hotels (to launch Feb 2015) and Clermont Hotels (to launch in 3 cities by 2016). The brands target different segments; but feature 3 common elements – industry-leading customer facing technology, radical hosting and a distinctive management model.

Amba Hotel Charing Cross, the first of these hotels launched in October 2014, has jumped tripadvisor ranking from c.250th in London to consistently top 25 (out of 1089 tracked hotels), and offers the world’s fastest, unlimited hotel wifi, free of charge.

Mike believes hotels are best run by the people who work in them.  And so glh’s value centre management model reverses the industry trend of de-skilling and de-scoping on-property management. By flipping the model he has restructured the hotel level management teams and empowered them to be truly profit accountable for all commercial decisions. Value Centre General Managers (VCGMs) work in a high wire no net environment, rewarded for profit improvement and guest experience.

Mike and his team are currently engaged in a scenario building initiative – working with a wide range of industry players to model alternative futures for the European hospitality market given the digital landscape.

If ‘ how to dance with a digital tornado’ is something that grabs your interest, please drop Mike an email at

Erik Janse

Partner Information Technology Services
ConQuaestor Grant Thornton

Erik has nearly 25 years' experience working in the international hospitality, business IT and finance industries. He specialises in financing and restructuring consulting for the hospitality sector. Erik is also a member of the global Grant Thornton Hotel & Tourism team, which brings together industry specialists across network to collaborate to support clients.
Erik's professional experience has taken him all over the world, which helps him to understand the challenges faced by clients in diverse markets. After working in the Caribbean, Latin America and Africa, Erik moved to Europe to become London based director of sales & marketing for the managed services division of Odyssey. He later returned to the Netherlands were he continued working in restructuring, as well as becoming involved with ERP and IT suppliers. This included implementing ERP/PtP/BPM for program management and quality assurance projects.
Erik founded the business IT practice within ConQuaestor, which consists of 20 consultants. The practice specialises in business IT transformations, such as business advisory and support, and implementation services in ERP/PtP/CRM/BI/DMS/BPM/CTS.
Throughout his career Erik has always maintained a connection to the hospitality industry. He is currently working on a major hotel group's IT procurement process, as well as working with other industry leading hotel clients.
In addition to his commercial expertise, Erik is able to apply academic perspectives to clients' challenges, gained through studying business economics in Rotterdam; completing a business administration MSc. at Nyenrode Business University; and through business IT, finance and turnaround management courses at Harvard Business School. Erik is still involved in academia and researches and lectures on IT governance and management, accounting and control.

Erik van Dijk

Chief Operating Officer
Meininger Hotels

Eric joined MEININGER Hotels in May 2013 as Chief Operating Officer following its acquisition by Holidaybreak Limited. He brings a wealth of experience from Generator Hostels, another leading hostel chain in Europe. Starting in 2000 as operations manager, he took several career steps and became Managing Director in August 2007, significantly growing Generator Hostel’s capacities. In August 2012 he was promoted Director of Business Development and additionally became a member of the board of Generator Hostels. He was also on the board of StayWyse.

Guido Fredrich

Vice President Special Property Finance - Hotel Properties
Aareal Bank AG

Mr. Guido Fredrich is a Vice President in the hotel financing team at Aareal Bank AG, one of the leading providers of debt financing to the hospitality industry worldwide. Together with his colleagues, he is responsible for the structuring and origination of various forms of loans to the lodging industry.  Aareal Bank AG provides property finance solutions in more than 25 countries across Europe, North America and Asia.

Aareal Bank AG holds a portfolio of approximately EUR 6.2 billion of hospitality related financings. Including Mr. Fredrich, the Hotel Properties Team consists of seven professionals with in-depth knowledge of the hospitality industry. The team focuses primarily on lending to first-class hotels in prime locations, as well as portfolio transactions.

Prior to joining Aareal Bank in 2013, Mr. Fredrich was a Vice President with Cedar Capital Partners in London, where he was responsible for acquisitions and asset management of upscale and luxury hotels in Europe. Previously, he was a Senior Analyst at CBRE Hotels’ London office where he provided valuation and consulting services to hospitality investors and lenders throughout the EMEA region. Mr. Fredrich holds a BSci degree in Hospitality Management from the Lausanne Business School of Hotel Management in Switzerland, where he graduated in 2007 with honours.

Maureen McDermott

Maureen McDermott Consulting

Maureen is a student accommodation consultant with more than 15 years’ experience in the student accommodation, study abroad, and hospitality markets. She provides services to investors and architects looking to establish a foothold, and guides existing operators to improve operations and expand their market reach. 

As employee number 1 and former Director of Nido Student Living, she was responsible for creating the brand, marketing and management strategies for the 2,500-bed portfolio, which was successfully sold in 2012 for £415M.

She was previously MD of the 300-bed, boutique-style, IES Student Residence Hall, now owned by Mansion Student Living. She is considered a pioneer in the direct-let market due to the nature of IES’ business, forging solid relationships with study abroad and language school markets to fill voids, in a time when direct-let was considered too risky.

Stateside, she was Marketing Communications and Gold Passport Manager for Hyatt Hotels Corporation for 5 years.

Charlie MacGregor

Chief Executive Officer & Founder
The Student Hotel

At the age of 16 I started in the construction industry. When I was 20 I moved to London and worked for a small development company. During these years I also built up a small private portfolio of apartments, which I bought, renovated and either sold or rented out.

In 2000, when I was 25, I raised €10M and bought a student company which had 480 beds across the UK. I stared a redevelopment plan for all the properties and secured new projects in the UK.

I moved to Amsterdam in 2003. I started working on Dutch student housing in 2004. In 2005 I began a student housing company. In 2007 I secured a deal with The Carlyle Group to provide us with equity. Our new JV partnership would build 5000 student beds by 2015. I was responsible for all day-to-day elements of the new company. From finding projects, securing planning & bank debt, managing the construction process and ensuring the projects were full upon opening and were operated professionally.

We opened our first project in September 2008 (148 beds). In the following years 2009,10 & 11 we purchased projects in Amsterdam, Den Haag & Rotterdam. We fine tuned the brand, The Student Hotel and opened our first project in September 2012.

In 2013 we successfully opened our flagship hotel in Amsterdam.  Here we have 707 rooms full of students, young graduates and hotel guests.  Followed by The Hague with 309 rooms (2014) and expansion of our Rotterdam location (2014), with now 485 rooms. Plans are underway to open further properties across Europe.
All of our projects have been 100% occupied from opening date until now.

Our goal is to provide the best student housing in the world.

My role within the company is still very much hands on and will remain so. I work closely with all senior management and with a focus on operations. This ensures that I stay close to what our guests experience and can keep our brand on message.

Marcus Roberts

Director - Head of Student Investment
Savills (UK) Limited

Marcus has been involved in a number of acquisitions and disposals for clients including UNITE Plc, McLaren Property, Berkeley Group, Quintain and Crosslane Group. In addition to his roles within the private sector, Marcus is also actively involved with a number of University backed projects including King's College, London, University of Northampton and Kaplan International Colleges.

Recent projects:
 Summer 2014 -  development consultancy advice to Macdonald Estates for 232 bed student scheme in Glasgow. Forward sale to Ahli United Bank.
 Summer 2014 – advise don’t he sale of the Cordea Savills student portfolio to USAF for £137m. the portfolio comprised 9 assets totaling 2,904 beds.
 Summer 2014 – acting for MCR in the sale of a 2,000 bed portfolio in Manchester & Liverpool for £77m to Centurion Corp (Singapore)
 December 2013 - Acting on behalf of Crosslane Group advising on JV with BBFD, France. To develop pipeline of opportunities for the Victus Fund, of c5,000 bed spaces - €250-300m
 Autumn 2013 - acting on behalf of KPMG on the disposal of a portfolio of 6 assets and c2,900 bed spaces.
 Summer 2013 - Acting on behalf of Crosslane Group advising on JV with Bauer Capital, Germany. To develop pipeline of opportunities for the Victus Fund, of c5,000 bed spaces - €250m.
 January 2013 - acting on behalf of Kaplan Inc in the leasing of a 420 bed student scheme in Nottingham on a 21 year lease. Practical completion of the scheme September 2014.
 December 2011 - acting on behalf of the University of Reading, advising on the disposal of the residential estate of c4,300 beds spaces to UPP.

During the last 10 years Marcus has acted for a number of different developers and operators in the acquisition of sites and buildings across the UK and Europe. Marcus has acquired or sold in excess of
20,000 bed spaces.
Along with members of the team, Marcus is also involved with a number of universities & colleges advising them on wider accommodation reviews and strategies.

Eduardo Golin

Director of the Department of Financing and Promotion of Tourism Investment
Brazil Ministry of Tourism

Tim Davis

Managing Director
Pace Dimensions Ltd

Tim Davis is founder and Managing Director of PACE Dimensions; a strategic management consulting company.  Consulting for the last 5 years principally in the Hospitality, Travel, Transportation and Leisure sectors, PACE has completed over 30 assignments helping clients improve their business performance and competitive edge.  PACE has core expertise in strategy, brand, commercial and corporate development.   Capabilities include helping companies take advantage of digital disruption, marketing 1 to 1 on a mass market basis, managing distribution change, optimising sales performance, innovating product and price structure, developing customer and business intelligence, designing and implementing business capabilities (systems, processes and organisation)

Prior to PACE, Tim was a Senior Vice President of Hilton Hotels, and on the management board of Hilton International for 9 years. He has held senior management roles for Marketing, Distribution, eCommerce, Sales, Commercial Development and IT working for Hilton, Galileo International, Hughes Olivetti Telecom, and GRiD Computer Systems. 

Tim has also served as a Chairman, Executive and Non-Executive Director of 3 travel distribution companies and joint ventures. 

Tim is currently the Chairman of Blind Veterans UK, a 100 year old charity that helps thousands of men and women, who have served, get back independence and quality of life from visual impairment.  Tim is married with 3 children, is a private pilot and enjoys running and other physical challenges.

Olaf Steinhage

Managing Director
hospitality competence berlin GmbH

Grad. Engineer Architect, Real Estate Economist (ebs)

Olaf Steinhage (born February 1963) started his career as a consultant at Suter + Suter AG in Basel, Switzerland, after having completed his architectural studies at the Technical University of Hannover in 1991. At Suter + Suter AG he was amongst other tasks responsible for portfolio analyses, real estate consulting, market and feasibility analyses as well as project development. In 1993, Olaf Steinhage acquired a degree in real estate economy at the European Business School in Oestrich-Winkel, Germany.

From 1993 to 1997, he worked as management assistant and director of project development at Deutsche Interhotel GmbH Berlin, Germany. Thereafter Olaf Steinhage changed to BKatz Group to take over the management of the project development, especially for the resort “Land Fleesensee” in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, Germany. In 1998, he opened his own hotel in Waren at Müritz Lake (Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, Germany). From 2002 to 2005, Olaf Steinhage held the position as managing director at Drees + Sommer GmbH Berlin, responsible for the hotel development department of the Drees + Sommer Group.

In March 2005 Olaf Steinhage founded hcb hospitality competence berlin GmbH, which specializes in the consulting, development and realization of international hotel projects and touristic destinations.

Beyond that, Olaf Steinhage holds positions as associate professor at the IREBS real estate academy as well as the University of Applied Science Bad Honeff.

Alex Just

Co-Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder
Home. Global

A young graduate from the Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne, Alex Just and his two partners have recently launched a branded student accommodation management start-up in Switzerland. Home. Global seeks to draw from the synergies that exist with the hospitality industry, with a focus on experience orientated service delivery.

Prior to undertaking this entrepreneurial venture, Alex spent time in London working for HVS Executive Search in 2012 and until recently was with Lausanne Hospitality Consulting as an associate.

A Swiss New Zealander, Alex holds a Bachelor from the Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne, and is fluent in English, German and Spanish.

Graeme White

Head of Tourism
Scottish Development International

Scottish Enterprise
Graeme White is head of Tourism at Scottish Development International, leading a team responsible
for identifying and supporting innovative and commercially attractive investment opportunities which will
boost tourism and help Scotland cement its position in the global hotel and resort development
He works with developers, investors and operators to help secure successful investments and
maximize the opportunities that Scotland offers, helping Scotland’s tourism sector to contribute to the
£500 million of inward investment that Scotland attracted last year.
Prior to joining Scottish Development International Graeme spent over 20 years as a sales and
marketing professional in companies such as Shell, Fisons and Olympus. He also ran an award-winning
marketing practice which provided support to some of Scotland’s leading events and venues.
Graeme is an Honorary Lecturer at the University of Dundee.

Willy Weiland

Managing Director
Solutions dot WG, Hospitality Advisory Alliance

Certified hotel manager with focus on corporate strategy and positioning, and a great deal of experience as a General Manager for major international hotels. In his last position he worked as the regional director of one of the largest hotel groups worldwide. At present, he is member of various committees of different tourism organizations and advisory boards of private companies in the hospitality and tourism industry.

Wolfgang Gattringer

Managing Director
Solutions dot WG

Certified tourism manager with emphasis of process optimization, finance and controlling. Many years of experience as a financial director of major international hotel companies. He also has extensive experience in positioning and development of product strategies of business software providers.

Steffen Szeidl

Partner & Member of the Executive Board
Drees & Sommer

Steffen Szeidl completed his degree in Architecture at Darmstadt Technical University and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich. He gathered practical experience both during and after his studies in various architectural and engineering firms in Germany and Switzerland.

Steffen Szeidl has special experience in the area of tenant management and construction management. As project leader, he is also responsible for the implementation of due diligence projects. He has in-depth knowledge of projects from the Retail and Hospitality sector and also has special expertise in BIM (Building Information Modelling).

In autumn 2008 he became in charge of establishing and developing the Drees & Sommer Switzerland location. As Managing Director he is now responsible for the Basel, Andermatt and Zurich offices. Since 2012 Steffen Szeidl has also assumed the function of (managing) Partner of Drees & Sommer AG.

Steffen Szeidl and his team stand for lean and optimized project execution for the benefit of the client. In 2011 the team was honored with ’the Swiss Real Estate Award' for its significant commitment.

Since January 2015 Steffen Szeidl is also Executive Board member for Organization, Controlling and Finance.

Brad Wilson

Ace Hotel Group

After attending Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration Brad Wilson’s first jobs with major hospitality brands like Hilton International, Park Hyatt and Westin honed his instincts, but he missed the creative spirit he was weaned on. He was recruited to launch the first W Hotel and helped guide the fledgling Starwood brand's early days, rising to Vice President of Operation for W Worldwide, overseeing twenty properties and a corporate team of support and creative staff. From there, he helped build James Hotels from the ground up, serving as CEO and introducing sophisticated, warm, modernist design principles, focused on organic materiality and authentic craft details.

Today, Brad is President and co-partner of Atelier Ace and the Ace Hotel Group, where he oversees growth and operations, and helps create new hotels and collaborative projects. Back to his roots, surrounded by innovative energy, he joins the Atelier team in developing projects, developing culture and creative processes that seek to transform the industry.

Alan Tang

Chief Operating Officer
Frasers Hospitality Group Pte Ltd

Alan Tang was appointed as Chief Operating Officer of Frasers Hospitality on 29 August 2013 to help oversee the operations with a key focus on developing the Group’s business growth and expansion strategy.

Alan Tang was with GIC Real Estate Pte Ltd (“GICRE”) from 1999 to May 2013 and he headed the hospitality sector to help build up a portfolio of hospitality assets globally. He had overall responsibility in both investment and asset management.  Some of the notable assets within the portfolio include the Westin Sydney, the Shangri-La Sydney, the Park Hyatt Melbourne, the Westin Paris, the Westin Tokyo and Hilton Seahawk Fukuoka, to name a few. Alan also managed GICRE’s joint venture interests through key relationships with several global and regional hospitality players like, Host Hotels and Resorts Inc., Ascott group, CDL in HK, the Swire group, China Resources and the Sunway group, amongst others.

Prior to joining GICRE, Alan was part of Raffles International’s pioneering team in business development involved in the maiden acquisitions of both the Browns Hotel in London and Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten in Hamburg in 1997.

Alan started his career with the Singapore Tourism Board upon graduation from the School of Hotel Administration, Cornell University (with distinction) in 1992. He is also a CFA charterholder.

Gregory Lanter

VP Global Development & Construction
Club Med

Gregory Lanter joined Club Mediterranée Group and its development teams in 2004, especially in charge of Africa and Middle East. He was appointed Vice President Global Development in 2009, which was later extended to Construction matters. His teams are positioned in Miami, Paris, Singapore and Shanghai.

They are strong contributors to the success of Club Med’s strategy, aiming at being the worldwide leader of multi-cultural family premium all-inclusive holidays. Over the last ten years, Club Med and its partners invested above a billion Euros in transforming historical assets.

Club Med is settled on the most extra-ordinary sites on Earth, where Club Med was most of the time the first ever international resort operator (Cancun, Punta Cana, Maldives, Mauritius, Bali…). Its development is strongly accelerating, with projects over the 5 continents. 3 flagship destinations have been inaugurated over winter 2014: Val Thorens Sensations in 3 Vallées French Alps, Maldives Finolhu Villas and Dong Ao Island in China.

Club Med offers a unique combination of an expert resort manager (over 60 years of experience) and a unique Tour Operating company, recognized and physically distributed in 35 different markets in the world.

David Ling

Head Strategic Development
CDL Hospitality Trusts

David’s 25 years of experience spans from establishing and managing new businesses, investment and professional activities in the hotel real estate industry.

He maintains excellent relationship with major institutional and private investors, financiers, developers and fund managers, and has diverse geographic experience in markets across Asia Pacific (Singapore, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, India and Maldives) and Europe (UK, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Spain).

As Head of Strategic Development of M&C REIT Management Limited, David’s current role includes identifying strategic investment opportunities from the regional and international markets for CDL Hospitality Trusts (CDLHT). CDLHT is listed on the Mainboard of Singapore Exchange Securities Trading Limited, with its current asset portfolio comprising 12 hotels and 2 resorts worth over $2 billion.

His passion and entrepreneurial spirit drove him to establish and manage five new offices of HVS Global Hospitality Services in Asia Pacific between 2004 and 2014, as well as pioneered and chaired the largest and most influential hotel investment conferences in mainland China and Indonesia – the annual China Hotel Investment Conference and Indonesia Hospitality and Tourism Investment Conference.

David is actively involved in the hotel real estate industry. He regularly speaks at international conferences and delivers lectures at Universities and industry seminars. He served in the international board of HVS from 2005 to 2013 and the Hotel Licensing Board of Singapore from 2010 to 2014.

David graduated with a Master in Urban Land Appraisal from the University of Reading in the United Kingdom and a Bachelor of Business (Distinction) in Valuation and Land Economy from Curtin University in Australia. He is a member of the Australian Property Institute (AAPI), Singapore Institute of Surveyors and Valuers (MSISV) and a Licensed Appraiser registered with the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore.

Hans Meyer

Co-Founder and Managing Director

Hans Meyer is co-founder and managing director of Zoku, a re-invented apartment hotel concept, facilitating global living and working for the independent travelling professional. Launching in 2015, Zoku will create a new category in the hotel industry – a home-office hybrid, with the services of a hotel and the social buzz of a thriving neighbourhood. He is responsible for concept development, branding, marketing, operations and strategic partnerships.

A firm believer of value creation and innovation for the international hospitality industry, Hans founded HotelsAhead in 2003, an Amsterdam-based consultancy that develops new hotel concepts and business models.

Hans is the initial creator and a former founding partner of the award-winning citizenM hotel concept. As COO, he was responsible for concept, creativity, design and development for this new international hotel chain.

Before Zoku and HotelsAhead, Hans worked for large international hotel chains like NH Hoteles and Golden Tulip Hotels, Inns and Resorts. He has held senior corporate positions in Operations and Development, where he was responsible for projects throughout Europe, Africa, The Middle-East and Central America.

Hans is also a mentor for the Rockstart Accelerator start-up programme, and a member of the advisory board of The Hub Amsterdam. He was educated at Hotelschool The Hague and Cornell University in The United States.

Fred Hines

Director, Head of Acquisitions
Queensgate Investments LLP

Mr Hines is currently Director, Head of Acquisitions at Queensgate Investments, an opportunistic European real estate private equity fund which seeks asset-rich, operational asset investments.  Prior to this, Fred was Vice President of Hospitality & Leisure at Patron Capital, a European private equity fund with capacity to invest over USD 10B in assets. During his time at Patron, Fred focussed particularly on investment platforms such as Generator Hostels, Jupiter Hotels, and Luxury Family Hotels. Mr Hines was in investment banking advisory at Global Leisure Partners and previously in the Merrill Lynch UK M&A team.

Jasper Harrison

Global Resilience Group, Operations Director - Security Services

Jasper leads AECOM’s efforts in developing, implementing, and maintaining global security operations to reduce risk, ensure tactical resilience and limit exposure to physical, intellectual property and personal risk. Jasper joined AECOM in 2008 to lead strategic resilience for the Libya Housing and Infrastructure Program. Following this assignment, he served as Regional Security Director for Europe, Middle East and Africa, developing crisis management and business continuity programs that supported AECOM during the Arab Spring uprisings and providing expertise from the commercial security sector. Prior to AECOM, Jasper was a Royal Marines Officer, served as a security and operations consultant with Control Risks and ArmorGroup and worked as a landmine and unexploded ordinance clearance specialist with humanitarian organizations. He holds a Master of Science degree in Global Security from Cranfield University.

Robert Crook

Managing Director UK
Interstate Hotels & Resorts

Robert Crook is Managing Director for Interstate's UK operations, responsible for leading the executive team and overall operations management throughout the region. He joined the company following Interstate's acquisition of Chardon Management Ltd. in October 2013. With Chardon since 1999, he was instrumental in leading the executive team, executing numerous hotel rebranding and repositioning activities, and furthering new hotel developments in Dunfermline, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Perth, Cambridge, Milton Keynes, Drayton Manor and Stevenage. Robert also spearheaded the takeover of a number of trading hotels, including a group of seven Hilton hotels in 2005 and a group of 12 Holiday Inn Express-branded hotels in 2010. He has over 30 years of hotel management experience, previously working in leadership roles in operations and franchising with IHG.

Cody Bradshaw

Senior Vice President, Head of European Hotels
Starwood Capital Group

Cody Bradshaw is a Senior Vice President at Starwood Capital Group and Head of European Hotels. In this role, he oversees the firm’s hospitality investment and asset management activities across Europe. His portfolio responsibilities extend to numerous North American and European lodging investments totaling over $4 billion in asset value, including the firm's ownership of Louvre Hotels, the second largest hotel chain in Europe, comprised of over 1,000 hotels across more than 40 countries.

Prior to joining Starwood Capital, Cody was one of the first employees at Pebblebrook Hotel Trust (NYSE: PEB) where he served as Vice President of Acquisitions during the twelve-month period in which the newly-formed “blind pool” REIT deployed over $1 billion of capital through the acquisition of over 20 major lodging assets. Prior to Pebblebrook, he was the first employee of the Chartres Lodging Group where he played an integral role in growing the firm over a seven year period into what at the time was comprised of five offices across the U.S. and Japan and a 20,000-room, $6 billion portfolio of lodging assets. He began his career at Hyatt Development Corporation after graduating from Cornell University.

Cody co-created the Certified Hotel Asset Manager ("CHAM") professional designation program which launched in 2012. He previously served on the Board of Directors of the Hospitality Asset Managers Association ("HAMA") and was recently appointed to the International Hotel Investment Council (“IHIC”).

Torsten Scholl

Chief Financial Officer
Novum Group Hotels

After studying Business Administration, Torsten used to work at Christie + Co for more than seven years as a Director, stationed in Frankfurt, Hamburg and Berlin.

Having advised on various hotel transactions, restructuring and refinancing projects, Torsten is an expert in the hotel industry.

During this time, he completed his post-graduate degree in Real Estate Investment Banking at the European Business School. In 2011, he was appointed as Chief Financial Officer within Novum Group Hotels and is overseeing the group‘s finance, expansion and legal department.

Andreas Ewald


Andreas Ewald is Executive Director and Head of Hospitality GSA at EY’s transaction advisory services team.

He has more than 20 years of hospitality and real estate experience. Since joining EY/ Arthur Andersen in 2001, he has been responsible for structuring large pan-European real estate portfolio transactions with a transaction volume of more than EUR 15 billion.

Andreas Ewald is specialized in the organization of acquisitions and sales of hotel assets and portfolios. Furthermore, his expertise lies in valuations including buy-side and sell-side due diligence, operator and investor searches as well as management and lease contract negotiations. In addition, he provides advisory services in regards to independent business reviews, highest-and-best-use analyses, feasibility studies and investment analyses for hospitality developments and properties. His clients are composed of international and national banks, investment funds, private equity firms as well as private and institutional investors.

Andreas Ewald holds a Master of Science in Real Estate from the European Business School, Oestrich-Winkel as well as a Bachelor (Hons) in International Business Administration from the European Business School, London.

Serge Trigano

Co-founder & President Mama Shelter

Graduated from the Assas University of economics, Serge Trigano worked his way up into the Club Méditerranée. He first became animator, then head of village and Director of International Operations of the Club.

In 1980, he takes the direction of Club Med in the USA where he doubled the number of villages in 5 years. After that, he became CEO and then President of the Club that he left in 1997 to create different companies.

ALTOUR France, a travel agency specialized in the incentive, seminars and roadshow organization.
He also manages a resort in Forges-les-Eaux, Normandy.

And, in 2008, he launched with his sons Benjamin and Jérémie, Philippe Starck and Cyril Aouizerate the concept of Mama Shelter.

Mama Shelter modified the codes of hospitality with its location in the 20th district of Paris, its rooms perfectly equipped at affordable prices, its restaurants and bars, real places of meeting between the inhabitants of the city and the guests of the hotel, all designed by Philippe Starck.

After the success of Paris, Mama Shelter opened its doors in Marseille, Istanbul, Lyon, Bordeaux, and Los Angeles in 2016.

In 2014, Accor joined the family Mama Shelter to accelerate its development and create synergies.
The same year he became the ambassador of the international fair Equip’Hotel.

Serge Trigano is also regularly consulted on subjects related to tourism, travels and urban planning.

John Ozinga

COO HotelInvest

Aged 49, John Ozinga is a graduate of La Roche-en-Ardenne hotel management school in Belgium, attended the Institut Supérieur d’Informatique in Liège and obtained a postgraduate degree in Business Administration from Heriott-Watt University Edinburgh (Scotland).

John Ozinga has over 20 years’ experience in the real estate industry in France and internationally. He started his career in 1991 with Accor as Development Director for the United Kingdom, Ireland and Benelux. In 2001, he joined Dolce hotel group as Vice President of Development in Europe. He went on to become Executive Vice President in charge of international real estate activities for Groupe Casino in 2004. In 2008, he joined Carrefour as CEO of Carrefour Property France.

Since 2012, he has been CEO of the French platform and Head of Separate Accounts Continental Europe of CBRE Global Investors, a world leader in real estate investment management.

He joined the Accor Executive Committee in June 2014.

Yannis Ermilios

Dolphin Capital Partners

Yannis Ermilios is a Director at Dolphin Capital Partners and is responsible for the development and management of the European assets of the various investments vehicles under management. The main focus is the development and operation of sophisticated leisure-integrated residential resorts in emerging markets, in partnership with the world’s leading designers, hotel operators and advisors. He has also worked as Project Manager at Jones Lang LaSalle in France providing consulting services for corporate clients and investors in the field of real estate, and previously as a site engineer for AEGEK S.A, a Greek contractor coordinating construction works. Yannis holds an MBA from INSEAD and an MSc in Civil Engineering from the Ecole Speciale des Travaux Publics in Paris.

Alex Campbell


Alex is a Partner in Fieldfisher's Structured Finance and Derivatives Group.  Alex specialises in real estate finance in the hotel and leisure sector.  His clients include equity investors, owners, debt providers and operators.

Alex advises on the financing arrangements for the acquisition, development and refurbishment of hotel properties.  He has advised on both UK and international transactions, including on recent projects in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.  His experience includes advising on the origination of corporate and real estate loans, intercreditor arrangements, securitisation and debt/equity restructuring matters.

Alex also advises owners and operators on hotel and resort management agreements, franchise agreements and other operating contracts.  He is experiences with advising on both the establishment of management arrangements and on ongoing day-to-day operating matters. 

His recent transactions include:

• Advising Deutsche Pfandbriefbank as lender on the acquisition of senior debt used to refinance the Savoy Hotel in London.
• Advising the Dominvs Group as borrower on two loan facilities with Coutts for the development of the Crowne Plaza hotel and the Holiday Inn Express hotel at Aberdeen Airport. 
• Advising Europe Arab Bank plc, First Gulf Bank and Westdeutsche Immobilien Bank AG as syndicated lenders on US$90,000,000 credit facility for the acquisition and development of the new Palazzo Versace hotel development in Dubai.
• Advising Europe Arab Bank plc as lender on two credit facilities for the acquisition and furbishment of the Holiday Inn Al Barsha hotel and Al Waleed Palace Hotel Apartments developments in Dubai.
• Advising on the hotel management agreements for the Mondrian Sea Containers House hotel in London, the Indigo hotel in Brighton, the Mondrian hotel in Istanbul and the Bahia Fenicia Banyan Tree Resort in Spain.
• Advising the Morgans Hotel Group on ongoing day-to-day operating matters in relation to London's Sanderson hotel and the St Martins Lane hotel.

Ralph Wagner

Managing Director
FREO Financial & Real Estate Operations GmbH

Ralph Wagner joined the FREO Group as a Partner in early 2010. He is Managing Director of
the German division of the Group and also heads its Legal and the Investment Team.
From 1990 to 2010 Ralph Wagner had been working as partner in a major law firm and in the mid 90ies as general Counsel for Tishman Speyer Germany.
FREO is currently developing projects with total investment costs of approx 1,2 billion Euros
inter alia; a Hotel 25 hours in Munich close the main central station, a Hampton by Hilton, a
Garden Inn in Munich and a Adina Apartment Hotel in Nuremberg.

Sue-Lin Heng

Eastdil Secured

Sue-Lin Heng is a Director with the London offices of Eastdil Secured. She has over 15 years working experience in the hospitality and real estate sector in both investment sales and corporate advisory services. She has sold over $3bn worth of hotel real estate across Europe and Asia.

Her current responsibilities include leading and executing Pan European hotels transactions, managing client relationships with key Asian buyers and facilitating cross border capital flows.

Sue-Lin is fluent in English, Mandarin Chinese and various Chinese dialects. She holds MBAs with Columbia Business School in the US and London Business School in the UK.

Yves Marchal

Managing Director Southern Europe, Hotels & Hospitality Group

Yves is directly responsible for the development and management of the Southern Europe business (France, Italy, Spain and Portugal). He leads a team of 30 professionals who provides transaction and development advice, leasing and management contract negotiation, sale and leaseback structuring together with debt finance sourcing, valuation reports, feasibility studies and general real estate advice.

Yves Marchal has an extensive knowledge of the hospitality sector. He has been involved in numerous high profile hotel instructions and major international negotiations both in France and in the EMEA Region. He has been dealing with asset and corporate transactions, sales and purchase of French and European single or portfolio hotels, in urban and resort locations, for more than 5 Billion Euros. He was recently involved in the sale of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Paris, The Club Med Pragelato in Italy and Accor’s portfolio in Switzerland. He also initiated the creation of the Mid-Market Transactions division in JLL H&H France which focuses on the transactions of hotel assets worth less than 10 million€, and extended the french business by opening 2 new offices in Lyon & Marseille.

Yves began his career in 1980 as financial consultant at SCET, a subsidiary of Caisse des depots et Consignations. Since 1986 he has held management roles in several prominent hotel companies and real estate groups throughout France, including Regional Manager of Pierre & Vacances, Partner Managing Director of Adagio Hotels (sold to Accor) and Managing Director of Citadines where he has contributed to the development, opening and running, throughout France and Europe, of around 10 hotels and 30 apart hotels. Before joining JLL in 1999, he worked for Comptoir Des Entrepreneurs Bank (a subsidiary of AGF Allianz Insurance) in the distressed Asset division, to asset manage and dispose of their hotel portfolio.

David Kong

President & Chief Executive Officer
Best Western International

David Kong is a hospitality industry leader with more than four decades of experience. Since he was named president & CEO of Best Western International in 2004, Kong has led the company to its highest RevPAR Index of 110 the past three years as well as unprecedented performance in guest loyalty and hotel satisfaction. Best Western has nearly 4,200 hotels in over 110 countries with annual hotel revenue exceeding $6 billion.

Kong is known in the industry as a strategic thinker and innovator. His comprehensive brand strategy included initiatives such as stratifying the brand into three tiers, raising standards, launching new brands and establishing marketing partnerships with high profile organizations such as Harley-Davidson and Facebook.

Under Kong's leadership, Best Western has set out to be a leader in the Internet, mobile and social media space. Compuware named the best hotel website the past three years. In 2013, EyeForTravel named Best Western's mobile site as the industry's best, Travel Click named Best Western "E-Marketer of the Year" in 2012 and 2013, and L2 named Best Western the best in e-commerce in the hotel industry.

With Kong's background and involvement in sales and marketing, Best Western won 20 HSMAI Adrian Awards and 26 Travel Weekly Magellan awards in 2013 – the most won in the travel industry. AAA has recognized Best Western as the "Partner of the Year" every year since 2008. In 2014, Best Western Rewards® was named the top loyalty program by Loyalty 360, the third best hotel loyalty program by U.S. News & World Report, and received the American Express Loyalty Award. The BEST WESTERN® and BEST WESTERN PLUS® hotels were voted the Best Midscale and Best Upper Midscale Hotel Chains in the 2014 Business Travel News survey.

Roy H. March

Chief Executive Officer
Eastdil Secured

Roy March is the chief executive officer of Eastdil Secured, L.L.C., the leading real estate investment banking company in the United States. 

He has more than 37 years of real estate experience at Eastdil Secured across financing, sales, acquisition, and capital markets activities in the United States, Europe, and East Asia.

Founded in 1967, Eastdil was the first real estate investment banking firm in the United States.  Eastdil Secured is a wholly owned subsidiary of Wells Fargo Bank, one of the largest financial service companies in the world and the largest commercial real estate lender in the U.S.  In 2009, as a result of the Wells Wachovia merger, the real estate investment banking division of Wachovia was moved to Eastdil Secured forming the first comprehensive end to end real estate banking investment platform in the industry.  The New York based firm was involved in over $950 billion in transactions from 2007 through 2014.

Roy serves on various industry, corporate and community boards, is a Trustee of the Urban Land Institute, is the Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Samuel Zell and Robert Lurie Real Estate Center at The Wharton School at The University of Pennsylvania, the Board of Directors of Real Estate Roundtable and is on the Board of Directors for PREA.  He is also a member of NAREIT – the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts, and the International Council of Shopping Centers.  He was the president of the Friends of Malibu Urgent Care, is on the board of The Painted Turtle and is co-founder of March to the Top-Africa.

Michael Widmann

Managing Partner
PKF hotelexperts

Michael Widmann is Managing Partner of PKF hotelexperts. As chairman of the PKF International Hospitality Consulting Committee, he coordinates PKF's worldwide hotel consulting activities.

PKF hotelexperts focuses on consulting services for the hospitality sector, including feasibility studies, valuations, operator selection, corporate finance, project development, asset management, benchmarking and research.

Michael Widmann is a lecturer at various universities, member of the Cornell Hotel Society and author/co-author of several hotel-related books.

After a management training programme with Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group in Asia, he worked for Stouffer Hotels & Resorts in Seattle and Claridge's in London. In 1992 he joined PKF in Munich, before setting up PKF hotelexperts in Vienna in 2004.

Max Thorne

Chief Executive Officer
CL Serviced Apartments

Max Thorne CEO has over 29 years’ experience in the serviced apartment market. Max is a former SVP of Development at Bridge Street, responsible for the brand’s international growth from its 1998 London inception. Max has been involved in delivering over 30 sites across Europe, 20 of which are in Central London.

Stephen Tate

Cristal International Standards

Born in England, Steve has travelled the world building the Cristal International Standards global operation.  He now spends at least 6 months of each year actually visiting corporate clients and operational offices globally. He is an active skier, golfer and cyclist. He also has a keen interest in art and photography.

He started his career in 1985, and spent 7 years with PHS Group as a Sales Director. Then, from 1992, he spent 10 years as a founder and main board director of the National Britannia Group. In early 2003 he put together a small group of private investors to form Check Safety First Ltd, an environmental risk management service business. Then, from 2013, the business has expanded to incorporate Cristal International Standards. The company is now the global leader in the field of quality standards and environmental risk management to the hotel and hospitalities sectors.