Hunter Conference adds new speakers, initiatives

The Hunter Hotel Investment Conference has set new featured speakers and new initiatives for this year’s programming, adding Cassie Kozyrkov, Google’s first chief decision scientist, to lead a session on artificial intelligence and its evolving impact on the hospitality industry. 

Also joining the 2024 lineup is Oz Pearlman, a mentalist known for his appearances on America’s Got Talent, the Today Show, Ellen DeGeneres Show, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and others. Other key speakers to take the stage at Hunter include Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Air Lines; Anthony Capuano, president and CEO of Marriott International; and Leslie Hale, president and CEO of RLJ Lodging Trust.

This year's conference marks a significant milestone, with 51 percent of speakers representing diversity, including women and underrepresented groups. This accomplishment embodies Hunter's dedication to featuring a wide range of voices and perspectives for its growing audience, according to Hunter organizers.

“Every event benefits from having greater diversity of thought and balance across its speaker lineup," Rachel Humphrey, founder of Women in Hospitality Leadership Alliance, said in a statement. "Showcasing speakers with a wide range of perspectives on the stage is a benefit for attendees while simultaneously ensuring greater visibility for these leaders, which will move the needle further on overall representation in the hospitality industry."


Hunter also will introduce new initiatives at this year’s event that are set to become regular features in future conferences. Most notably, Hunter introduces "The Table," an inclusive initiative inviting attendees to participate in roundtable discussions facilitated by industry professionals with multifaceted backgrounds, experiences and careers. In collaboration with the Women in Hospitality Leadership Alliance, “The Table” represents the sole session open to both registered and non-registered attendees, emphasizing Hunter's commitment to amplifying all voices within the industry. 

Another notable initiative added to this year’s programming is the student-focused panel, titled “Class of 2024.” This session, featuring a blend of students and industry insiders such as Geoff Ballotti, president and CEO of Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, and Kevin Osterhaus, president of Graduate Hotels, will explore the intersection of academia and hospitality, reflecting the growing involvement of colleges in the Hunter conference. In partnerships with over 13 universities nationwide, the conference will include more than 100 students at this year’s event.

“As we celebrate our 35th conference, we continue to grow the program, perspectives and topics year after year,” said Lee Hunter, chairman of the Hunter Hotel Investment Conference. “With attendees at the forefront of every part of the planning process, I am immensely proud of our team for intentionally crafting this year’s innovative programming, with distinguished speakers and impactful sessions set to debut at Hunter.”