Speakers

Jonah Berger is a marketing professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and and a world-renowned expert on word of mouth, social influence, consumer behavior, and how products, ideas, and behaviors catch on. He has published dozens of articles in top‐tier academic journals, teaches Wharton’s highest rated online course, and popular accounts of his work often appear in places like The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Harvard Business Review. Berger is the internationally bestselling author of multiple books including Contagious: Why Things Catch On and Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces that Shape Behavior.

From Fortune 500 companies to small start-ups, and multinationals to non-profits — including Apple, Google, GE, Coca‐Cola, Vanguard, 3M, Kaiser Permanente, and The Gates Foundation — he has helped drive new product adoption, sharpen effective messaging, and develop marketing strategy.

Ryan Berman is the founder of Courageous; a creative change consultancy that has worked with some of the largest companies in the country including Google, Snapchat, Charity: Water, Major League Baseball, Caesars Entertainment, PUMA, Subway and US Ski & Snowboard. His methods to installing courage in stories and organizations have been covered in Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Inc and Forbes. Ryan believes that in these courage deficient times, courage is a competitive advantage waiting to be unlocked. His best-selling book Return on Courage : A Business Playbook for Courageous Change addresses this head on. Berman also has his own “Courage Brand” called Sock Problems: a altruistic sock company that socks different problems in the world.

James Boyd, VP, Public Relations, Americas at Singapore Airlines, has an outstanding record of achievement leading regional communications for the world’s most awarded airline. He is responsible for strategic initiatives and long-term plan execution in media relations, retail publicity, social media, product launches, crisis communications and message delivery training. With extensive experience in managing agency teams in the U.S., Canada, and Brazil, he also serves as the primary spokesman for the Americas Region.

A world-renowned expert on technological shifts, digital transformations, and emerging technologies, Dr. Shawn DuBravac delivers pragmatic insights to global leaders. He authored the New York Times Best Seller Digital Destiny: How the New Age of Data Will Transform the Way We Work, Live, and Communicate. He is a well-regarded futurist and trendcaster who has addressed thousands of executives across hundreds of events over a long tenure as a global visionary.

Sarah Evans is one of the most powerful names in the public relations and social media worlds, having built J Public Relations into a bicoastal force with global reach. She is a trusted industry resource, and her deep-rooted relationships are the foundation of many long-term clients (160 clients on 6 continents), an a-list media network and the global JPR team of over 80

Her repertoire of top-tier clients includes 20 Ritz-Carlton hotels, Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts, including Dubai’s famous Burj Al Arab, Relais & Châteaux Hotels and Grace Hotels. During her career, she’s worked with brands such as Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Dorchester Collection and Regent Hotels & Resorts.

Deemed a “badass businesswoman” by Media Bistro, Sarah is a spokesperson in the field, having been featured as a travel expert on MSNBC, ABC and Fox. A proficient panelist, Sarah has been a featured Speaker at the PRSA Travel & Tourism Conference, Boutique & Lifestyle Lodging Association (BLLA) Investment Conference, ILHA (International Luxury Hotel Association) and America’s Luxury Summit by Walpole in London. She has also spoken at programs geared toward illustrious hotel leaders such as The Ritz-Carlton and Relais & Châteaux. Sarah currently sits on the board of the BLLA and is a Mentor with Women in Communications.

Sarah’s been named one of the “Top Women in PR” by PR News and a “Leader of the Year” by Bulldog Reporter. An honors graduate of East Carolina University, she was named to the university’s inaugural “40 Under 40” list and is a recipient of the Incredible ECU Woman Award. She and the firm have been recognized by a host of accolades including New York Observer’s “Power 50”, “Agency of the Year” by PR News, “Agency of the Year” by Bulldog Reporter, Smart CEO’s Culture Award, PR News Best Places to Work, Inc 5000’s Fastest Growing Companies in America and O’Dwyers Top 100.

David Flueck is Senior Vice President, Global Loyalty for Marriott International. David leads the Marriott BonvoyTM loyalty program as well as Marriott’s co-brand credit cards from Chase and American Express.

David joined Marriott International as part of the Starwood Hotels & Resorts merger. During his 12 years at Starwood he held several senior roles leading Global Revenue Management, SPG Strategy and Operations, and the original development of the Element brand. Prior to joining Starwood, David was a consultant for the Boston Consulting Group.

David has an MBA from the University of Chicago, and a degree in economics from the University of Colorado. He is married with three kids and lives in Maryland.

Nico Fox is a Client Solutions Manager on the travel team at Facebook focusing on the Hotel and Air sub-verticals. She has enjoyed being at Facebook for the past 3-years strategizing nimble testing agendas and holistic measurement plans. Prior to Facebook Nico was the US Director of Marketing Science at Accuen, Omnicom’s programmatic trading desk. Nico has a passion for running and travel, and particularly enjoys when the two can be combined; she is looking forward to completing her 6th continent marathon in Antarctica this March.

Kirstin Frazell is an Industry Manager on the travel team at Facebook focusing on the Hotel, Air and Cruise sub-verticals. She has enjoyed being at Facebook for the past 9-years building world class partnerships with some of Facebook’s biggest clients and agencies. Prior to Facebook Kirstin was the Advertising Manager at JetBlue Airways helping to build the brand personality, loyalty and love of the Airline. Kirstin has a passion for travel both in and out of work and is looking forward to taking her family to Norway and Denmark this summer.

Kirstin is also a member of HSMAI’s Marketing Advisory Board.

James Gancos is CEO & Founder of The Guestbook, the world’s premiere cash back rewards program for distinctive hotels and their guests. Prior to founding The Guestbook, James held General Manager positions at the W Los Angeles, W Istanbul, and Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas as well as Hotel Manager positions at the Sheraton Seattle and Sheraton Kauai Resort in Hawaii. He also worked for Starwood Hotels as Director of Operations for the North America Division and as a consultant at Ernst & Young. James graduated from Duke University with a Bachelor of Science in Economics and holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School.

Kristie Goshow brings 20 years of sales, marketing, and distribution across multiple travel disciplines to her position as Chief Marketing Officer of Preferred Hotels & Resorts. In this role, she leads the company’s global marketing strategy, responsible for driving revenue, brand awareness, and engagement through the I Prefer Hotel Rewards program, all brand and cooperative marketing efforts, and e-commerce and digital marketing initiatives.

Over the course of her career, Kristie has led teams across the airline, hospitality, and travel technology spaces with a strong focus on increasing convergence among sales, marketing, revenue, and e-commerce to ensure that efforts resonate with consumers and drive engagement and bookings. She started her career in the travel industry working with Scandinavian Airlines and Virgin Atlantic and from there, transitioned to Utell / Pegasus, where she implemented one of the industry’s first affiliate marketing programs and oversaw account management for Utell in UK, Ireland, and Scandinavia. In the early 2000s, she pivoted into the lodging side of the travel industry to oversee distribution and e-commerce efforts for hotel brands including Le Meridien, based in London, and Jumeirah, working out of Dubai. Most recently, following a two-year period as Vice President of Marketing for Sabre Hospitality, she worked with Viceroy Hotel Group as Senior Vice President of Commercial from 2013 to January 2018, responsible for managing the company’s international sales, marketing, digital, distribution, loyalty, public relations, and technology strategies.

Kristie is a published author and lends her expertise to multiple travel organizations, serving as a member of the HTNG Board of Governors, and an Advisor to the Board of suiteness.com. She is based in Los Angeles County, California, with her husband and two children.

Christopher Heywood leads domestic and international public relations efforts for NYC & Company, New York City’s non-profit destination marketing organization. In his role, he oversees the organization’s global network of 17 international press representatives that serve 28 regions around the world, in addition to leading corporate communications efforts. Before joining NYC & Company as a Director of Travel and Tourism PR in 2007, Heywood worked for the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board for more than eight years. He also sits on the US Travel Association’s Communications Committee and is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW). Heywood is a graduate of the School of Hospitality Management at Florida International University as well as The Culinary Institute of America.

Jayna Leach joined the Visit Panama City Beach team as the Vice President of Marketing in 2015, with over 20 years of marketing and public relations experience. In 2018, Leach was named a Pinnacle Award winner, which recognizes female business leaders who hold themselves to high standards and contribute to the betterment of the community. Since joining Visit Panama City Beach, the destination marketing organization has been awarded a number of Sunsational and Flagler Awards for their work, including a 2019 “Henry” Award. Leach also spearheaded work for UNwineD 2019, which was awarded the Grand Prize for “Most Innovative Project of the Year” by the Florida Festivals & Events Association. Leach began her marketing career as the director of marketing for The Boardwalk Beach Resort and Conference Center and later served as the vice president of marketing for Sterling Resorts & Realty.

Regina Lewis has conducted thousands of on-air interviews and has appeared on every major TV network, as well as hundreds of local TV & radio affiliates nationwide. A former CNN Financial News Network (CNNfn) anchor; HGTV DIY show host; and longtime CNN, MSNBC, Huffington Post & USA TODAY contributor, she continues to regularly study and cover top economic headlines and provide national commentary surrounding consumer trends.

Throughout the course of her career, she has personally served as an “expert” national spokesperson for Amazon, AOL, Bank of America, Comcast, Microsoft and TIAA-CREF.

Most notably, Regina understands how to bring important consumer information to the forefront. Her approachable demeanor and modern sensibility catapulted her onto the national news and entertainment scene covering a wide range of stories – everything from holiday shopping to the Grammys for shows spanning “The Today Show” and “CBS Early Show” to “EXTRA” and “The View” – and she hasn’t stopped since.

The mother of three children, she’s also hosted “Parent Sense” for public television, along with her own show, “Tech Out My House” on HGTV’s DIY Network. More recently she served as a producer, writer and reporter for the Emmy nominated “My Generation” on PBS.

Her television work is complemented by real-life experience, consulting work and writing. Regina has written a daily personal finance column for the Huffington Post (Sample: Why Grocery Shopping May Never Be the Same) and her USA Today franchise can be found here: USA Today Host, Regina Lewis. She’s also known for authoring the best-selling book “Wired in a Week.”

Ms. Lewis studied Economics and English Writing at Lehigh University where she guest lectures. She’s also attended Harvard Business School (HBS) Executive Education Program and currently has her own LLC with a network of highly specialized freelancers to help scale her thriving practice.

Over the course of her distinguished career, she’s appeared in commercial ads/advertorials for AOL and Walmart; given keynote and opening addresses for the likes of Best Buy and Society for Financial Literacy and Professional Development (SFE&PD); and participated in and moderated panel discussions for Marriott International, Nutrisystem, Inc., and others. Ms. Lewis splits her professional time between Washington and New York.

Flo Lugli is a well-known expert on travel industry distribution, travel technology, and digital presence, and was recently recognized as one of the most influential women in hospitality technology by Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP).

Lugli is a member of the International Society of Hospitality Consultants, the leading source for global hospitality expertise, represented by over two hundred of the industry’s most respected professionals from across six continents. Lugli has also been recognized as one of the “Most Powerful Women” in Travel for 7 years by Travel Agent Magazine and among the top 75 hotel executives and top 10 technology experts by Lodging Magazine.

As Principal of Navesink Advisory Group, LLC, Lugli leverages her vast experience, industry expertise and thought leadership to help businesses drive revenue growth and enhance profitability. She also currently serves as interim Chief Commercial Officer, Americas for Radisson Hotel Group. Most recently, she served as the executive vice president of marketing for Wyndham Hotel Group, where she led the global strategy for customer engagement and market positioning for the company and oversaw brand marketing, distribution, ecommerce, loyalty, public relations/communications, research and central reservations systems strategy. During here time there, she drive a $100M digital transformation for the company. She joined the Wyndham Hotel Group in July 2009 after serving in senior executive positions with privately held Travelport Limited (and its predecessor Galileo International), one of the world’s largest global distribution system providers.

She has served two terms as president of HEDNA, and is a former member of HSMAI’s America’s board of directors. Flo and her husband, Robert, reside in Fountain Hills, AZ.

Michael Marx is currently Senior Director of Visa Inc. Research and Insights. In this capacity, Mr. Marx is responsible for consulting and communicating with Visa payment card issuing clients and accepting merchants on all aspects of intelligence including market research, market intelligence, competitive intelligence and consumer trends that are ultimately relevant to the payments business.

Mr. Marx is a frequent speaker at industry conferences where he discusses key segments of the population who will drive the payments business going forward as well as ground-breaking Visa research efforts that contribute to the furtherance of its partners’ business.

Prior to joining Visa in 1996, Mr. Marx served for 11 years as manager of the corporate market research function at Wells Fargo. He has also held research positions at Clorox and Market Facts.

Mr. Marx holds a B.A. in Politics from the University of California, Santa Cruz and an M.A. in Communications from the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Kelly McGuire is an author and an analytics evangelist. She is passionate about helping hospitality and gaming businesses infuse science into the art of hospitality with big data and analytics. She is the author of two books on analytics in hospitality, Hotel Pricing in a Social World and The Analytic Hospitality Executive. Most recently, Kelly served as SVP, Revenue Management for MGM Resorts International where she led the team responsible for pricing, distribution and direct marketing for the 40,000 rooms in MGM’s Las Vegas resort portfolio. She holds an MMH and a PhD from the Cornell School of Hotel Administration.

Mark Molinari, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives & Marketing Programs, has worked for Las Vegas Sands Corporation for nearly 19 years in a variety of corporate and property roles. Mark was instrumental in implementing Revenue Management and Distribution strategies and systems for the Las Vegas Sands resorts worldwide. Today he is responsible for developing Marketing strategies and technology solutions to increase customer acquisition and engagement at the Venetian Resort. In addition to his background in Revenue Management, Mark has extensive experience in Analytics, Contact Center Operations, eCommerce, Email Marketing, and Partnerships & Contracts. Mark is a graduate from Florida State University with majors in Business and Finance.

As a director of business development for North America at Expedia Group Media Solutions, Derek Price drives business development with his team, and delivers creative and innovative digital media campaigns for partners on the network of leading travel brands across Expedia Group. Derek and his team work closely with travel and non-travel U.S. marketers as well as international destinations with U.S. representation.

With more than 30 years in the travel industry, Derek has previously held roles from market management to media sales at online travel agencies (OTAs) and travel marketing companies, including Travelocity, Orbitz and Sojern.

Kenneth Purcell is the Founder & CEO of iSeatz. In 1999, he set out to streamline the restaurant reservation system by creating a booking system that hotels and restaurants could use to automate the restaurant reservation process for hotel guests. Since then, Kenneth has leveraged his knowledge and iSeatz technology capabilities to offer a full range of ancillary booking systems to major hotel, airline, and financial services companies including air, hotel, trip insurance, car, transportation, off-site dining, in-destination activities, and food delivery that integrate into the company’s unique brand and loyalty programs.

Kenneth is a New Orleans resident, graduate of Spring Hill College and he and his wife MaryAnne are parents of four lively boys.

Dr. Lalia Rach is a trusted business consultant, experienced moderator, and professional keynote speaker. Her approach to generating and interpreting trends and strategies makes her not only a trusted advisor to senior level executives at many of America’s leading companies but also a source of motivational inspiration to employees searching for originality and reality. Lalia guides her audience toward achievable success by creating and maintaining an atmosphere that supports creativity, flexibility, and measured risk taking. A proven innovator, she specializes in dynamic leadership strategies and comprehensive team building methods as they relate to socioeconomic and technological trends, and other areas of concern among business professionals. Her considerable knowledge and experience is evident whether she is working with one or a thousand professionals, but it is her genuine ideas and uncommon sense that make her a respected visionary. With a resume that blends education with an impressive professional background and memberships in some of the most prestigious and well-respected associations her approach to business issues is clearly defined. Rather than rely on hype or hyperbole to create enthusiasm she establishes an environment of cooperation designed to achieve success through pragmatic examples and a forthright clarity that is refreshingly honest and useful. Lalia’s background includes leading some of the world’s top hospitality and tourism programs at the university level. Most recently she was Associate Dean of the College of Management and Director of the School of Hospitality Leadership at the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie, Wisconsin. Previously Lalia was the divisional dean and endowed professor at the New York University Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management.

Dean Schmit, Director, Strategic Accounts for DerbySoft, is a renowned industry expert with more than 25-years’ experience in the hospitality industry. Dean’s areas of experience include digital marketing, revenue management, electronic distribution, and metasearch. Until late 2019 he served as Senior Manager, Acct Mgmt and Metasearch Optimization for Wyndham Hotel Group.

Dean hails from Northeast Nebraska where he lives with his wife and son. He fancies himself starring in a modern-day remake of Gilligan’s Island, but will leave it to you to guess which character!

Stephanie Sparks Smith is Founder and Digital Matriarch at Cogwheel Marketing and partner and consultant at Cayuga Hospitality Consultants. Her focus is helping owners and management companies drive incremental exposure and revenue to their websites and online channels through hotel digital marketing and advertising.

With over 20 years of senior level experience in hotel marketing and travel distribution, Dan Wacksman has recently launched a new company, Sassato, to help hotels and travel related businesses to improve their performance in marketing, distribution, technology, and implementations. Prior to this, Dan was Senior Vice President of Marketing and Distribution for Outrigger Hotels and Resorts, where he oversaw Marketing, Digital, Loyalty/CRM, Contact Center Operations, OTA relationships, and overall distribution strategy. Previous roles include; Managing Director for GTA China and Regional Director for GTA Asia, where he had overall responsibility for offices throughout the region (at the time GTA was one of the worlds largest wholesalers), General Manager of Aoyou.com, an Online Travel Agency based in Beijing and Director of Strategic Development for Travelport where he was involved in acquisitions and strategic initiatives. Dan currently serves as the chair for the HSMAI Marketing Advisory Board, teaches a digital marketing class at the University of Hawaii, and is a frequent speaker at industry events. Dan was recently recognized by HSMAI as one of the Top 25 Extraordinary Minds in Hospitality Sales, Marketing, and Revenue Optimization.