Events play an important role in the strategic positioning and profitability of hospitality organizations. Hotel executives attend conferences to make deals, spread brand awareness, find new technology, create partnerships, and discover the latest industry trends.
There are plenty of hospitality events out there, but not all are created equal. Some give you more bang for your buck and others are geared for specific needs. It’s vital that you do your homework before you invest time and money.
We’ve attended numerous hospitality events and narrowed the list down to twelve of our favorites to alleviate some of the work for you.
Updated: Hospitality Event Changes Due to COVID-19
As hospitality companies were forced to shut their doors in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person gatherings like industry events had to shift gears. From cancellations to virtual summits, events that were expected to host tens of thousands of people were forced to pivot to new plans.
Here’s a round up of what happened to the 2020 hospitality events we featured.
1. The Lodging Conference: Scheduled to be held in the fall in Phoenix, The Lodging Conference was postponed due to the pandemic. The next conference is scheduled for September 27 – 30 in Phoenix.
2. NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference: Instead of the scheduled in-person conference, the 2020 event was held as a series of webinars which you can watch here.
3. The Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS): This event, which attracts 3,000 industry professionals, was held as usual in January.
4. AAHOA: Hosted by the Asian American Hotel Owners Association, this annual convention went virtual for 2020.
5. Hunter Hotel Conference: The Hunter Hotel Investment Conference was scheduled for March 18 – 20, just days after the world shut down. The conference was cancelled but another is scheduled for May 2021.
6. HOTEC Operations & Technology: This hospitality conference that connects hotels with innovative suppliers was cancelled.
7. Meet the Money: Though it doesn’t appear the 2020 conference happened, the group that puts on Meet the Money has continued to hold virtual information sessions which you can find here.
8. International Hotel Investment Forum (IHIF): The 2020 Berlin event was postponed and the next scheduled forum will take place in September 2021.
9. Mountain Travel Symposium: The 2020 Mountain Travel Symposium went virtual in 2020, and they’ll also be online for their 2021 event this April.
10. Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition and Conference (HITEC): In 2020, the HITEC conference became CYBER HITEC as it went online for a full roster of events with 1,840 participants.
11. HT-NEXT: This conference that covers everything from technology tools to travel trends went online in 2020. It stuck with its original mission of creating networking opportunities and even online allowed attendees to connect with one another.
12. HAC Conference: The Hotel Association of Canada held its annual conference in person as scheduled in February, before the pandemic forced other industry conferences to go virtual or cancel altogether.
1. The Lodging Conference
The Lodging Conference is hands down our favorite conference of the year. It’s well-known for being casual and laid-back, a place where ties are discouraged and shorts are encouraged.
The content is perfectly curated for hotel executives and the speaker list always includes the who’s who in the hotel industry. There are also plenty of opportunities to network within the conference itself or at the expansive lobby and bar.
Insider tip: The JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort and Spa is perfectly set up to schedule one-on-one meetings in the lower lobby, patio, or in one of the property’s restaurants.
2. NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference
As the largest and oldest established investment conference in the hospitality industry, the NYU Investment Conference boasts the top leaders in the hotel industry. There’s an impressive lineup of keynote speakers comprised of global leaders in lodging development, investment, and finance, and the general sessions are packed with great intel.
Insider tip: The 8th floor is a great place to host a meeting during the day. The post-conference scene isn’t quite as vibrant as The Lodging Conference, but it still does the trick. Look for more after conference parties off-site.
3. The Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS)
Located in Los Angeles, this is a great west coast version of the NYU Investment Conference. It attracts 3,000 of the industry’s top leaders and hosts an array of seminars and panels discussing industry trends and new opportunities.
The content is well thought out and the location is perfect for after-hours entertaining. The conference organizers also expertly gate the hotel and only allow conference attendees to linger at the lobby bar, making it much easier to network.
Insider tip: While the networking potential is great, many of the key executives are locked away in their suites for meetings. Although this happens at most events, it is more noticeable here so you may have to try harder to seek the people you want.
This annual conference is hosted by the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) which represents more than 80% of all hotel ownership in the U.S.
Passed down through the generations, the ever-expanding portfolios are now managed by 2nd and 3rd generation AAHOA members. This is the youngest group in the hospitality industry and possibly one of the brightest.
Insider tip: Mark our words, these are the leaders that will be shaping the hospitality landscape in the next ten years.
5. Hunter Hotel Conference
Designed for hotel owners (40% of attendees) and investors, the Hunter Hotel Conference is great if you’re looking for a smaller, more intimate gathering that packs the same punch. This is a well-rounded conference for hotel leaders that is intended to give you plenty of opportunities to develop new relationships with lodging leaders and decision-makers.
Insider tip: While there is a national pull, this is somewhat of a regional event compared to The Lodging Conference, NYU, and ALIS.
6. HOTEC Operations & Technology
Created specifically for professionals in the operations and technology sectors of hospitality, HOTEC brings hospitality decision-makers face-to-face with suppliers of innovative products and services. When you know what you are looking for, HOTEC will help you find it.
From design to technology and operations, HOTEC fast tracks projects by connecting hotel leaders with what or who they need in an efficient two-day event packed with a customized schedule for each attendee.
Insider tip: The location is always amazing and the food and beverages are off the charts so make sure you take advantage of it!
7. Meet the Money
For hotel executives looking for up-to-the-minute information about the world of hotel investment and finance, Meet the Money in Los Angeles is perfect.
The conference is big enough to attract heavy hitters, but small enough to network with them. Attendees include hotel owners, developers, investors, lenders, operators, advisors, consultants, and more who engage in networking and, most important, deal-making.
Insider tip: Being a smaller conference, this is a great place to finance your next project or unlock the trapped capital in your existing portfolio.
8. International Hotel Investment Forum (IHIF)
On the international scene, the IHIF in Berlin attracts more than 2,500 hotel executives from 80 different countries. The conference is known for its light-hearted, yet productive atmosphere and festive global flair. At the 2020 gathering, expect to learn from some of the industries most dynamic, cutting-edge personalities.
Insider tip: A lot of breaking news is announced here so you’ll be the first to know what’s happening in the international hotel investment community if you attend.
9. Mountain Travel Symposium
If you’re looking to attend a conference that also feels like a vacation, the Mountain Travel Symposium would be a great choice. Nestled in the beautiful North Lake Tahoe region of Squaw Valley, CA, the event prioritizes exchanges and makes it easy for hotel executives to meet both important sellers and other buyers.
Insider tip: Mountain Travel Symposium is the premiere mountain travel event of the year. For those who work in this niche, the networking opportunities can’t be beat.
10. Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition and Conference (HITEC)
HITEC is all about first-rate education and cutting-edge hospitality technology. Attend expert-led sessions and learn how to better manage your hotel. Then take a walk through the world’s largest hospitality technology expo and discover the latest tech breakthroughs.
Insider tip: This conference takes place in three different locations around the world: Palma, Spain; San Antonio, TX; and Macau, China. If you can’t make the American gathering, look into attending the European or Asian conference instead.
HT-NEXT is a collection of innovative minds and ideas. Join other trailblazers in the hospitality industry to learn about new technology tools, travel trends, and guest personalization strategies. When you’re not learning, plan to network. The event features over three hours of dedicated networking time in its agenda for 2020.
Insider tip: While the educational opportunities at HT-NEXT are excellent, they aren’t the only thing this event has to offer. Plan to attend the Copper Canyon Trail Blazers Bash and the Thrill Seekers Desert Adventure for fun and extra networking time.
12. HAC Conference
Last, but certainly not least, we have the Hotel Association of Canada (HAC) Conference. The 2020 event will be held in Toronto and will feature plenty of educational content from industry leaders, as well as ample networking opportunities.
Want to learn more about millennial travel? Interested in the latest tech developments for the hospitality industry? Maybe you just want extremely practical information regarding sound masking and the best ways to reduce noise complaints at your hotel.
Whatever you want to learn, there’s a good chance that the HAC Conference has a keynote speech or breakout sessions planned on the topic.
Insider tip: The networking sessions at HAC Conference are specifically designed to get you in touch with the heavy hitters sponsoring the event.
Bring your A game and you just might walk away with a few incredibly valuable contacts.