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
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.
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
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.
Luis Fernandez, and his wife Yanin, own and operate two restaurants located in Historic Downtown Norcross, Georgia. In 2008, they opened their first restaurant, Mojitos Cuban American Bistro, offering authentic Cuban cuisine in a casual 50’s atmosphere. In 2014, they opened their second restaurant, The Crossing, in the more than a century old Norcross train depot. The casual, fine dining establishment offers steaks, chops, and a contemporary American menu. Both restaurants deliver amazing cuisine, great service, and quality live music.
John J. Hogan, CHA CMHS CHE CHO is a career business professional and educator who has held senior leadership with responsibility in several organizations involving operational, academic and entrepreneurial enterprise. He has demonstrated competencies as a strong leader, relationship builder, problem solver and mentor and is frequently invited to speak at franchise meetings, management company and hospitality association industry events. He also acts as an expert witness in both research and testimony in hospitality industry related cases.
Al Munguia is the general manager of the Jupiter Hotel, a mid-century renovated motor inn turned boutique hotel in the heart of Portland. He has worked in the travel and tourism industry since the age of 20 and has worked in many major destinations, including San Francisco, San Diego and Guadalajara, Mexico. Using his experience with Starwood, Marriott and Holiday Inn Hotels, Al has been successful in helping make Portland a unique destination for travelers from around the globe. He enjoys using his network to attract international visitors to the broad range of activities, hotels, restaurants and events that the state of Oregon has to offer. Keep Reading