Rocco is a passionate hotelier and energetic entrepreneur with a remarkable career of over 20 years. He studied hotel management at Westminster College in London and Cornell University in Singapore, and he has worked in some of the finest, world class properties in amazing destinations spanning three continents. He’s led pre-opening, rebranding, and repositioning projects, and he’s recognized as a turnaround expert. Keep Reading
Jan Edwards is the founder and CEO at Paving the Way, an organization committed to ending sex trafficking in the U.S. through education and empowerment. Jan spent over 25 years in sales and marketing working with big names like Time Warner, Bright House, the UN and other international organizations, before taking on the worldwide initiative to prevent children from become victims of this silent crime.
She is the writer and producer of the award winning film; Trapped in the Trade that is used globally in business and educational programs across the country and believes this endeavor must start in our neighborhoods.
Rajiv Bhatia, M.S., CHA, CHE, CRME is CEO of FairBridge Hotels International, a promising franchise system with 43 properties providing an attractive alternative to legacy franchise models.
Prior to his appointment as CEO of FairBridge, Rajiv served as leader of the Knights Inn Brand of the Wyndham Hotel Group. Throughout the last decade he was responsible for brand operations, property openings, design and development, franchise services, quality assurance, training, development financing and marketing. During his tenure at Wyndham, Mr. Bhatia served as president of the company’s Villager brand from 2003 until it merged with the Knights Inn brand in September 2004. Prior to his role as brand president, from 1996 until 2003 Mr Bhatia supported the Hotel Group’s worldwide master licensing efforts for several Wyndham brands including Howard Johnson, Days Inn, and Super 8 while working across five continents and numerous international destinations. Keep Reading
Ron Whitfield is an Executive General Manager with ResortQuest by Wyndham in Destin Florida. He earned his Associate of Arts Degree from the University of West Florida and a Bachelors of Science in Hospitality Administration from Florida State University with an emphasis in Resort and Club Management.
Ron has been in the Vacation Rental Industry for more than two decades. He has had a Community Association Management License for 22 years and has been a Real Estate Broker for 11 years.
Tarun S. Patel is a second generation hotelier and entrepreneur specializing in Hospitality Management and Development, Deal Structure, Finance and Accounting. He’s Principal of Pacific Hospitality Company, and Founder and CFO of Pracrea Inc, a Silicon Valley based startup offering software-as-a-service solutions used by commercial real estate brokers and owners to manage the sale of their listings and properties. Their solution, TheHotelInventory.com, provides a virtual meeting place for hotel buyers and sellers that helps hotel sellers and brokers market their properties, and hotel investors find their next investment.
Tarun earned a BS, Finance and Economics from San Diego State University.
Joann V. Saucier, Ed.D. has 30 years experience in hospitality/tourism, government, education, and real estate management. She served as Director of Operations and Senior Regional Manager, ResortQuest, Destin, FL 1985–2005, and went on to serve as a Management Consultant for several companies and organizations, including the Greater New Orleans Hotel & Lodging Association.
Joann earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Social Studies Education from Dominican College, New Orleans, LA, a Masters of Education in Counseling from Loyola University, New Orleans, LA, and a Doctor of Education in Educational Psychology from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Dr. Joseph Hegarty M.Ed., Ed. D is an educator, author, and international consultant. He has 35+ years experience as a professional manager with innovative organizations including, international and local hotels in management/proprietorship, a full academic career in professional vocational & higher education institutions, and as a published hospitality & culinary education researcher.
He holds a Doctoral Degree in Education from University of Sheffield. A Masters Degree in Education from Trinity College Dublin and a Diploma in Hotel Management from Shannon College of Hotel Management. Keep Reading
Dr. Kate Price-Howard has 30 years experience in the fields of hospitality and commercial recreation. Her work experience includes recreation positions on board cruise ships, hotels, summer camps, psychiatric units, nursing homes, and serving as Director of Recreation for several Florida resorts.
In 2001, she founded Go Play, Inc., providing recreation consultation to resort and property management companies, corporate team building, and special events. She has taught more than 600 students that have come through her company as recreation interns. Keep Reading
Kerry V. Ranson is Chief Development Officer, Business & Acquisitions, for HP Hotels – a Birmingham, Alabama-based 3rd party management group with a portfolio of over 30 hotels in 12 states comprised of Hilton, Marriott, InterContinental, Choice, and Independent full-service and select-service hotels. Kerry is also the outgoing Chairman of the Board for the IHG Owners Association. Keep Reading
Atul G. Patel, CHO is a second generation hotelier. He and his family moved to the United States in 1979 and settled in Tifton, GA, where his family bought their first independent hotel. After learning the trade in the family business, Atul went on to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Emory University, and a Master’s Degree in Finance Georgia State. He now has an interest in seven properties, and he and his partners manage a portfolio of five.