Marriott’s Craig Smith

The largest line-up of global Hoteliers are headlining one of the strongest programs ever seen at the upcoming Australasian Hotel Industry Conference and Exhibition (AHICE), set to be held in Melbourne on May 2-3.

Headlining the strongest and most comprehensive speaker program ever produced for AHICE is former Starwood CEO, Frits van Paasschen, who is flying to Melbourne from New York to give a keynote on the power of disruptors.

It will be van Paasschen’s only Australian speaking appearance in 2018 and the Amazon best-selling author and investor in the trendsetting citizenM Hotels chain promises to deliver a keynote session and open-floor Q&A that are not to be missed.

The other major keynote is being delivered by London-based Professor Toby Walsh (Scientia Professor of Artificial Intelligence at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of New South Wales), who will be talking about how Artificial Intelligence will impact the hotel industry.

Hoteliers also flying in for the event to give keynote speeches alongside van Paasschen and Walsh include: George Nicholas (Global Head of Hotels, Savills) from London who will give a global sales outlook; and Tony Ryan (Managing Director, Global Mergers and Acquisitions, Hotels & Hospitality Group, JLL) from Singapore who will deliver a global mergers and acquisitions market update.

Accor’s Michael Issenberg

Several leading Hoteliers will be joining AHICE from Asia for exclusive Q&A sessions over the two-day event, including David Udell (Group President – Asia-Pacific, Hyatt Hotels Corporation) from Hong Kong; Michael Issenberg (Chairman and CEO – Asia-Pacific, AccorHotels) from Singapore; Stephen Burt (Chairman, Travelodge Hotels Asia) from Singapore; Arthur Kiong (CEO, Far East Hospitality) from Singapore; and Craig Smith (President and Managing Director – Asia Pacific, Marriott International) from Hong Kong.

They join a host of leading Australasian Hoteliers that will also feature on stage for Q&As and presentations, including Simon McGrath (COO – Pacific, AccorHotels); Alex Thorpe (Co-Founder, Veriu Hotels and Suites); Dave Baswal (Chief Operating Officer – Australia, Ovolo Hotels); Jure Domazet (CEO, Doma Group); Ronald Barrott (CEO, Pro-invest Group); Richard Munro (Chief Executive Officer, AAoA); Julian Clark (CEO, Lancemore Group); Barry Robinson (President & Managing Director – South East Asia and Pacific Rim, Wyndham Hotel Group); Leanne Harwood (Managing Director – Australasia and Japan, IHG); Zed Sanjana (CEO, Quest Apartment Hotels); Bob East (CEO, Mantra Group and Chair, Tourism Australia); Martin Ferguson (Chair, Tourism Accommodation Australia); Jane Hastings (CEO and Managing Director, Event Hospitality & Entertainment); Heidi Kunkel (Vice President of Operations for Australasia, Hilton); Rachel Argaman (CEO, TFE Hotels); Sonia Lefevre (CEO, Lustre Hotels) and Margy Osmond (CEO, Tourism & Transport Forum Australia).

TFE Hotels CEO, Rachel Argaman

A number of investor Q&As will also be held, featuring Brendan O’Farrell (Chief Executive Officer, Intrust Super); Greg Clerk (Head of Investment Strategy, Hostplus); and Dr Jerry Schwartz (Director, Schwartz Family Company).

Keynotes will also be given by: John O’Sullivan (Managing Director, Tourism Australia) on the Australian inbound tourism outlook; Tammy Marshall (Founder, The B-Hive) on the 7 Deadly Sins of Innovation – learn how to embrace them and use to your advantage; and John O’Shea (Senior Research Analyst, Ord Minnett) with a hotel and tourism market outlook.

AHICE 2018 will also feature panels on ‘what owners want’, human resources, development, food and beverage and much more.

Early bird ticket sales end on April 6 and for the full two-day program, visit

AHICE 2018 is being co-located with Design Inn and the leading event for hotel architects and interior designers in Australasia is also attracting some impressive global speakers, including legendary Tony Chi and Dutch-born visionary & innovator, Joost Bakker.

For a full Design Inn program and ticket information, visit

James Wilkinson

Editor-In-Chief, Hotel Management