07.08.20 2:00PM EDT/11:00AM PDT

Every crisis breeds opportunity. And smart hoteliers are rewriting the rules of property operations. The operating is stressful, but the potential for incredible opportunity for those seeking success. In this session, we’ll hear best practices regarding how hoteliers are rethinking what it means to run a hotel from folks implementing property level changes that increase efficiencies, save money and exceed the Guests expectations. All experts are high level executives facing the same issues you’re having today. They will help guide you to success.

Sponsored By:

Allie Hope

CDO - Virgin Hotels

Allie is responsible for setting and implementing Virgin Hotels’ global growth strategy. Allie’s primary responsibilities include identifying properties in key markets, and structuring transactions that work for Virgin Hotels and our Owner/Developer partners. Prior to joining Virgin, Allie worked on acquisitions, dispositions and asset management at Sunstone Hotel Investors where she was on a team that completed over $1 billion of hotel transactions. Allie was previously a partner at HMR Analytics, a hospitality asset management firm based in California, and a consultant with PKF Consulting, one of the top advisory services firms in the hospitality industry. Other experiences include hotel operations with Interstate Hotels and Resorts and spa development at Starwood Hotels & Resorts. Allie is a graduate of Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration where she received the Dean’s Baccalaureate Service Award, is a guest lecturer at Cornell Hotel School Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship, Columbia University and NYU, was named Southern California Real Estate “Woman of Influence” in 2007, and is the co-chair of the Dean’s Young Advisory Board for Cornell Hotel School.

Biran Patel is the Chairman of AAHOA. He has been an active member of the association since 2003. He first served as an Ambassador and then was elected to the Board of Directors as the Regional Director for North Texas. He was elected as AAHOA Secretary in 2017.

Biran is a native of Birmingham, England and a second-generation hotelier. His family moved to Austin, Texas in 1980 and purchased a small independent property before settling in Dallas. They owned and operated the 8th Street Motel which served as both a place of business and a home for his family as the business grew.

 Biran’s education in the hospitality industry began as a youth helping out at his family’s hotel after school and on weekends. From checking in guests and doing laundry to sweeping the parking lot and refilling vending machines, he learned the industry from the ground up.

 Today, Biran owns and operates multiple branded and independent hotel properties and is also a partner in BHP Investments Company. He is a graduate of the University of Texas and holds a B.S. in finance. He currently resides in Dallas, Texas with his wife, Poonam, and their two children.

Mark LeBlanc

Executive Vice President, Development & Acquisitions

Mark LeBlanc is Executive Vice President, Development and Acquisitions, with over four decades of experience in all facets of hospitality financing, acquisitions and operations. Mark held this role with Interstate Hotels & Resorts prior to the merger with Aimbridge Hospitality in October 2019.

Prior to joining Interstate, Mark directed business development for The Rim Corporation as senior vice president of development. He joined Rim in 1994, serving in hotel management and regional operations leadership positions to division vice president. As senior vice president of development for Rim, he contributed dramatically to the company’s growth, from seven hotels in 1994 to a diverse international portfolio.

A veteran of the industry, Mark has a strong track record of sound leadership. His experience extends to numerous industry organizations, including the California Hotel Lodging Association, for which Mark has served as a board member since 2002, and the IHG Western Committee. Mark is also a member of ICSC since 2007 and AAHOA since 2008, and served as past president of the Sacramento Hotel Association.

Talene Staab

Global Head of Tru by Hilton

As Vice President & Global Head, Tru by Hilton, Talene Lanuza Staab serves as the chief strategist and champion for Tru by Hilton – the fastest hotel brand to launch in industry history. In her role, she is responsible for driving Tru by Hilton’s product and service positioning, distribution strategies, and owner relations.

Prior to this role, Staab served as Vice President, Owner Experience & Engagement, overseeing the team responsible for advancing overall owner value and satisfaction, building a best-in-class experience for Hilton’s owner community. Staab also served as Senior Director, Brand Performance & Support, Canopy by Hilton, where she focused on the brand’s development and was instrumental in advancing its service and hospitality culture.

Staab, a seasoned hospitality leader with more than 25 years of experience with Hilton, started her career at Hilton as the group sales manager for Embassy Suites San Diego - La Jolla before becoming the director of sales for the hotel. Throughout her tenure at Hilton, she has worked across various teams and brands, providing her with a unique understanding of the hospitality industry.

Staab credits her passion for hospitality to her parents’ restaurant in Boston, where everyone became a “regular” and home cooking was the specialty.

Staab currently sits on the board of directors for the Castell Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing hospitality companies tools and support to accelerate the development of their high-potential women. Staab holds a bachelor’s degree in Hotel & Business Administration from the University of New Hampshire. She now resides in Northern Virginia with her husband Tony, daughter Arika, son Anthony and Cairn Terrier Stewie.

President & CEO Prism Hotels & Resorts

Steve Van

Steve Van, president and CEO of Prism Hotels & Resorts, founded the Dallas-based company in 1983. Under his leadership, Prism has become an award-winning full-service hotel management, investment and advisory services company.

A prominent speaker and sought-after expert in the hospitality industry, Steve was recognized by Hotel Business Magazine as one of the trade’s “People of 2012.” In the past few years Steve has focused his teams’ efforts on going from Good to Great with the primary focus on operational excellence.

Prism remains one of the most experienced managers of hotels and resorts nationally and has managed brands that include Marriott, Hilton, Doubletree, Sheraton, Embassy Suites, Holiday Inn, Preferred Hotel Group, Radisson, and numerous independents. Since the company was founded, Prism has managed over 300 hotels across the nation.

Steve’s foray into hotels began as an Executive Vice President of Criswell Development Company. While there he developed the Hyatt Re­gency Austin, Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center and the Hyatt West Houston. His first independent purchase was The Melrose Hotel in Dallas, which his Prism team turned into the first Omni franchise.

Steve currently serves on a number of industry boards including the Hilton Doubletree Hotel Owner’s Advisory Council and served on the Starwood Hotels Owner’s Advisory Council for creation of Aloft Hotels. Steve earned his bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas and also attended The University of Texas Law School and was admitted to the State Bar of Texas. He has served as the Assistant Attorney General of Texas and as a Director of the Texas Turnpike Authority. Since 2008 he has been a Founding Director of AHMSA, a nonprofit based in Bogota, Columbia, to teach internal refugees entrepreneurial skills to lift their families out of poverty. AHMSA is now supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation along with the United Nations. Steve was also the youngest Director of NATO’s US Arm, the Atlantic Treaty Assembly. Steve is also the co-founder of the Texas Lyceum Association.​

Our Panel

Biran Patel

AAHOA Chairman 2020-21

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