Designers, suppliers join Hotec Design advisory board

Following the Hotec North America Conference and ahead of December’s Hotec Virtual F&B conference, Questex Hospitality (the parent company of Hotel Management Magazine) has launched an advisory board of designers, procurement directors and suppliers to guide the direction of the upcoming Hotec Design conference, scheduled for June 20-23, 2022, at The Breakers Palm Beach in Florida. 

The annual Hotec Design conference aims to inform and connect buyers and sellers in the hospitality industry by facilitating face-to-face meetings. The event also educates the community of senior hotel decision-makers (including designers and operators) of the importance of strategic procurement, and facilitates year-round engagement, learning and networking.

The advisory board of five designers and five suppliers will serve as ambassadors for the event, sharing market expertise and leading debates about the future of the industry. The group will also help evolve Hotec Design for the post-pandemic hospitality and event experience, creating new opportunities to enhance the program and event experience. The advisors also will help Questex Hospitality leaders identify trends as well as the key stakeholders advancing these trends and identify issues that the industry is facing. 

The Board

Designers on the board are Lorraine Francis, CEO at Cadiz Collaboration; Jade Russell, procurement director – FF&E at IHG Hotels & Resorts; Susan LaFleur, co-founder at One Line Design Studio; Ellen Tichenor, creative director at Origin Hotel; and Christina Flannery, director of design at Park Hotels & Resorts. 

Suppliers on the board are Scott Smith, president and CEO at Belstone Products; Jennifer Lutton, VP of hospitality and contract sales at Danao; Jacob Herskovits, national director of A&D at Genrose Stone and Tile; Dana Leis-Goodman, national sales manager at Hennepin Made; and Jason Kurth, senior sales manager, hospitality design at Room 360 by FOH.

Key Concerns

At the first virtual meeting of the board, attendees discussed some of the major issues affecting the hospitality design industry—and, by proxy, future Hotec Design events. Francis noted that supply chain challenges are driving costs up and dragging timelines out. “It's been really hard for our suppliers ... to really guarantee pricing because we might not purchase things for three months [or] six months,” she said.

LaFleur agreed, noting the disappointment she has faced when she can’t get a client the product needed for a project. “We promised them their product, and then at the 11th hour, it’s stuck on the water in a line of boats waiting to get to the port, and then we can't get a truck to get it on,” she said. “Traditionally, 10 percent of the world's out of our control in general, but it seems like about 75 percent of the world's out of control right now.” 

Smith, for his part, said that while designers and hoteliers are willing to share what they want for a project, suppliers rarely get to share their own expectations and needs—“like, lead times [and] infrastructure of a company—this is what you want to look for,” he said. “If you're looking for a good design or if you want to value-engineer, you have to understand there's no bottom in some of these countries where materials are made.” As such, he added, the buyer has to beware of cutting corners.  

The advisory board members also offered suggestions for the next Hotec Design conference: Lutton suggested including tours of the host hotel and meetings with the property’s leadership. “It gives everyone insight who's there, who designed it, the background, the history,” she said. Beyond learning about the design, attendees could learn about the ownership and management teams and what other properties they manage.

Attendees also discussed possibility of additional educational sessions at upcoming events. “Education is always a good thing,” Herskovits said. “There [are] always new innovations within every product ... In this intimate kind of setting, maybe it could go a long way.”