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Featuring panels and presentations from industry leaders



Planning for 2017 Dallas Hotel Conference is underway! Updates for next year's conference will be posted this summer, but in the meantime we invite you to view presentations and photos from previous conferences listed at the bottom of this page.

2016 Panelists and Presenters

Chuck Bedsole Headshot Photo
Chuck Bedsole
Managing Director
Alvarez & Marsal North America, LLC

As founder and global leader of A&M’s Hospitality & Leisure Advisory Services Group, Chuck Bedsole has more than 34 years of industry experience, including eight years with Big Four professional service firms and five years of corporate-level experience with hospitality companies in the areas of acquisitions, development, finance and marketing. He has substantial domestic and international experience with various hospitality asset types including lodging companies, hotels, mixed-use resort developments, hotel condominiums, interval ownership, all-inclusive resorts and marinas. He also has significant experience with residential, commercial and industrial projects in Latin America.

Mr. Bedsole's advisory experience includes interim management, strategic planning, asset management, due diligence, feasibility, valuation, marketing and financing engagements for multinational companies, capital sources, developers, financial institutions and governments in major markets in the United States, Caribbean, Europe and Latin America.



Sabrina Callahan Headshot Photo
Monty Bennett
Founder, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer
Ashford Group of Companies

Monty Bennett is the Founder, Chairman, & Chief Executive Officer of the Ashford Group of Companies (NYSE: AINC, AHT, AHP). Mr. Bennett is a member of the American Hotel & Lodging Association's Industry Real Estate Finance Advisory Council (IREFAC), the Global Advisory Council of HOFTEL, a worldwide hotel ownership group, and is on the Advisory Editorial board for the Global Hotel Network. Mr. Bennett received the Top-Performing CEO Award from HVS for 2011. This award is presented each year to the CEO in the hospitality industry who offers the best value to shareholders based on HVS's pay-for-performance model. Mr. Bennett holds a Master's degree in Business Administration from Cornell's S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management and received a Bachelor of Science degree with distinction from the School of Hotel Administration also at Cornell. He is a life member of the Cornell Hotel Society. 


Sabrina Callahan Headshot Photo
Sabrina Callahan
Director Social Media Planning & Integration

Sabrina joined Hilton as an eCommerce Manager during the roll out of the EDGE program in March 2012. Throughout her four years she has managed multiple hotel portfolios ranging in variety from Franchise to Owned and Managed properties, and spanning from California to New York. As an eCommerce Manager, Sabrina was responsible for driving Web Direct revenue, which required her to work closely with hotel management to gain an in-depth knowledge of their business mix, their respective markets and their overall needs. She was then able to create a digital strategy unique for each hotel and inclusive of paid and organic support. In August 2015, Sabrina was given the opportunity to lead a team of four eCommerce Managers, covering five states including TX and LA. In June 2016, Sabrina transitioned into the Director of Social Media Planning & Integration role where she leads a team of eight, supporting the hotels with social media best practices and partnering with brands to drive social strategy.


Monty J. Bennett Headshot Photo
Rob Castellucci
Senior Director, Business Development

Rob is the Senior Director of Business Development at TrustYou, the world’s largest guest feedback platform on a mission to improve the travel experience from finding the right hotel to having the perfect stay.  Rob has a diverse background in hospitality, digital marketing, analytics and cloud-based solutions.  He received his BS from Clemson University and brings over 10 years of experience to the hospitality industry.  Rob currently oversees the teams responsible for all of TrustYou's current and future enterprise clients throughout the Americas.  He helped open TrustYou’s largest American based office in San Diego and has been instrumental in TrustYou’s success.  Before relocating to southern California with his wife, Rob worked out of the Washington DC area for Cvent, where he was a very accomplished strategic account executive managing most of Cvent's largest hospitality clients (Hilton, Starwood, IHG, Kimpton and Aimbridge to name a few).

Monty J. Bennett Headshot Photo
Brian Crawford
Vice President of Government and Political Affairs
American Hotel and Lodging Association

Brian Crawford is the Vice President of Government and Political Affairs for the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AH&LA). He joined the association on February 3, 2014.


In this role, Crawford helps lead the association’s increased advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill and with key administration policymakers, with a focus on workforce, labor and health care issues. He also oversees the association’s political action committee, HotelPAC, helping to grow the PAC and increase AH&LA’s political activities.


Crawford came to AH&LA following eight years in the U.S. House of Representatives, having served the past five as Chief of Staff to U.S. Congressman Tom Rooney (FL-17). As Representative Rooney’s Chief of Staff, he directed all legislative, press, political and operational activities for a staff of 17 in Washington, D.C. and three Florida district offices. He previously served as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Florida Congressman Ric Keller (FL-08).



Mike Wylie Headshot Photo
Michael Curran
Senior Director, Client Success
Wpromote LLC

With over 20 years of experience in the hospitality digital marketing industry – including Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Online – Michael Curran heads the South Texas office as Senior Director of Client Success – Hospitality. He worked for Hilton Hotels and Wyndham Hotels & Resorts before joining Standing Dog Interactive, now Wpromote as of August 2016. A Chicago Cubs fanatic, he hopes to be around to see an end to the longest championship drought in professional sports history.



Monty J. Bennett Headshot Photo
Tom Day
Executive Vice President, Hospitality Finance Group
Wells Fargo & Company

Tom is an executive vice president in Wells Fargo Commercial Real Estate’s Hospitality Finance Group. The group provides debt products and financial services to leading hotel owners throughout the United States. Its customers include well-capitalized private owners/operators, national real estate funds dedicated to hospitality, public REITs and real estate operating companies. Tom is a division manager and is responsible for the group’s national public company clients as well as its private clients headquartered in the southern US.


Tom joined Wells Fargo in 2014 and has more than 30 years of commercial banking experience, the majority of which has been dedicated to the hotel industry.


Tom has Bachelor of Arts and Master of Business Administration degrees from Baylor University, where he serves on the university’s College of Arts and Science Advisory Board.

Dave Johnson Headshot Photo
Stephen G. Haggerty
Global Head of Capital Strategy, Franchising and Select Service
Hyatt Hotels Corporation

Steve Haggerty was selected Global Head of Capital Strategy, Franchising and Select Service of Hyatt Hotels Corporation in August 2014. Mr. Haggerty is responsible for implementing Hyatt’s overall capital and franchising strategy and overseeing their select service business. Prior to assuming his current role, Mr. Haggerty was the Executive Vice President, Global Head of Real Estate and Capital Strategy from October 2012. In that role, Mr. Haggerty was responsible for implementing Hyatt’s capital strategy, managing their hotel asset base and providing support to their development professionals around the world. Mr. Haggerty has been with Hyatt since 2007 when he joined the company as Global Head of Real Estate and Development, overseeing the global development, feasibility and development finance and asset management teams.

Before joining Hyatt, Mr. Haggerty spent 13 years serving in several positions of increasing responsibility with Marriott International, Inc., including finance, asset management and development roles in various locations around the world.

Dave Johnson Headshot Photo
Dave Johnson
President and CEO
Aimbridge Hospitality, LLC

Dave Johnson oversees the management of Aimbridge’s entire portfolio consisting of over 350 hotels approximately 2 billion in annual revenue and over 13,000 employees. Through his dedication and leadership, Aimbridge is recognized as one of the Premier Hotel Management companies in the United States. Aimbridge Hospitality’s portfolio includes assets under ownership and management from Marriott, Hilton, Starwood, Hyatt Hotels, IHG, Choice and Wyndham. Additionally Aimbridge oversees an impressive resort and luxury division of hotels including its own proprietary all inclusive Jewel Resorts.

Prior to joining Aimbridge, he spent 17 years at Wyndham International helping them grow from 10 hotels to over 500 at the time of his departure. While at Wyndham, Johnson served as President of Wyndham Hotels, overseeing approximately 15,000 employees and responsible for approximately 3 billion dollars in annual revenue. Prior to that he served in various senior level operational, sales and marketing positions.

Dan Lesser Headshot Photo
Dan Lesser
President and CEO
LW Hospitality Advisors LLC

Daniel Lesser has more than 35 years of expertise in a wide range of hospitality operational, investment counseling, valuation, advisory and transactional services. Prior to founding LW Hospitality Advisors, he created and served as senior managing director - industry leader of the Hospitality and Gaming Valuation Advisory Services Group at CB Richard Ellis Hotels. Prior to joining CBRE, Mr. Lesser founded and led the Hospitality and Gaming Group at Cushman and Wakefield and was a founding member of the team at HVS International. Mr. Lesser has held operational and administrative positions with Hilton Hotels Corp. and Eurotels-Switzerland. He is a graduate of the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University and also attended the Ecole Hôtelière Lausanne. Mr. Lesser is widely published and quoted, and highly sought after to speak at lodging and real estate events as well as lectures at prestigious institutions of higher education.

Cindy Nelson Headshot Photo
Katie Moro
Global Director Business Intelligence Product

Katie Moro joined TravelClick in 2011 and is responsible for the global expansion of TravelClick’s Demand360 product. Katie is a veteran of the hospitality industry and has been involved with the demand initiative since the product’s early days. 

Prior to joining TravelClick, Katie was an Account Manager with Rubicon and led a sales team that focused on product growth in major accounts.  She has also held roles at Morgans Hotel Group and Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company.

Katie holds a Bachelor’s of Arts from the The University of Georgia.

Cindy Nelson Headshot Photo
Cindy Nelson
Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP

Cindy Nelson chairs Gardere’s hospitality industry team. She handles sophisticated real estate and financing transactions, often involving iconic properties, and represents owners, REITs, opportunity funds and developers, especially in the hospitality and lodging sector. She has represented clients in the acquisition, disposition, leasing and financing of commercial enterprises both domestic and foreign, including hotels and mixed-use developments, shopping centers, multifamily housing developments, office buildings, industrial properties, unimproved land, and fractional and timeshare properties.

Cindy’s practice includes senior and mezzanine financing services, complex workout and debt restructuring, joint ventures, management agreements, franchise agreements, buying, selling, developing and ground leasing of all types of real estate products. She also assists investors with recapitalization of distressed borrowers and purchasers of troubled assets.

She has represented financial institutions, investment and development companies, major hospitality firms and others involved in real estate. Cindy has helped with a wide variety of transactions, primarily focusing on acquisitions, divestitures, borrower-side financing and joint ventures. Her clients rely on her efficient and diligent approach to closing varied, high-stakes transactions, and she is regarded as a creative problem solver.

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Dan Peek
Senior Managing Director

Dan Peek, located in Tampa, is a Senior Managing Director and is the Head of the Hospitality Practice Group of HFF. He is primarily responsible for institutional-grade hotel and resort property transactions throughout North America, Latin America and the Caribbean. During the course of his career, Mr. Peek has completed over $11 billion in investment sale, debt and equity placement transactions.

Mr. Peek joined the firm in October 2007. Prior to HFF, he was a co-founder and Managing Director of Regent Street, an affiliate of The Plasencia Group, Inc. (TPG), a boutique firm specializing in sale, financing and advisory services for distinctive hotels and resorts throughout the Americas. He also served as Senior Vice President at TPG, handling hotel and resort property transactions in the Northeastern, Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern regions. Before TPG, Mr. Peek worked in hotel operations and consulting, including a variety of management positions with Marriott International and Wiengardner & Hammons, and as a consultant with HVS International in New York.

Mr. Peek is a full member of the Urban Land Institute, a member of the Hotel Development Council, the advisory board of the University of Florida Real Estate Center, the advisory board of the Cornell Real Estate and Finance Center and the Cornell Hotel Society.

Cliff Risman Headshot Photo
Cliff Risman
Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP

Cliff Risman is a veteran business lawyer who represents companies that develop, own, operate and finance hotels around the world. He is described by clients in the Chambers USA Guide as "very practical and always accessible." Clients choose Cliff over competitors because he speaks the language and fully understands every aspect of their business – from securing capital, structuring deals and negotiating management contracts, to guiding clients through labor, tax, food and beverage, and operational matters and disputes.

Cliff represents luxury and boutique hotel and resort brands, operators and management companies, developers, private equity and other investors in their highest profile projects. He understands how to best tackle the various agreements – he knows the hospitality industry and the unique business and economic issues that arise – and he has guided clients through many complex matters and dispute resolutions. Cliff ensures that clients are protected, focuses intently on their broader business goals, and knows how, where and when to push to get the deal done as quickly as possible.


Headshot Photo
Nolan Wrentmore
Vice President of Revenue Management & eCommerce
Aimbridge Hospitality, LLC

Nolan Wrentmore joined Aimbridge in 2005 and has 20 years of hospitality experience. Mr. Wrentmore oversees all aspects of revenue management and e-commerce for Aimbridge’s hotels. Mr. Wrentmore has extensive knowledge and experience in segmentation, pricing, revenue management systems, third party Internet booking channels, pay per click marketing, and guides Aimbridge’s entire portfolio in all market strategies.

Prior to joining Aimbridge, Wrentmore was Corporate Director of Revenue Management for Wyndham International and was responsible for various full service hotels in the Western United States. While in this role, he also oversaw the revenue management transition of the Summerfield Suites brand to a Hyatt brand. Prior to that, he served as Area Revenue Manager for Performance Hospitality (a division of Wyndham) overseeing several brands across the Midwest, including several Hilton and Holiday Inn products.

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