HM Exclusive: Hunter to be recognized for industry achievements

Since 1978, Bob Hunter has been brokering hotel deals through what is known today as Hunter Hotel Advisors. But while he’s well known in the hotel industry today, Hunter started in general real estate before he “stumbled” into a hotel situation, as he describes, when a lender asked him to help. “It was especially unique compared to all the other real estate I had done. Then they asked me to do another one and then, before you knew it, I was a hotel broker,” he recalled. “There were only two of us in Atlanta at the time so it was a very small industry indeed.”

As Hunter’s experience grew, other real estate professionals would seek out his expertise. “As other brokers would run into hotel deals, they would call me and I would teach them. It was one of those fortuitous things [that] was not planned.” After discovering his passion for hotel deals, Hunter established Hunter Hotel Advisors in 1978 in his hometown of Atlanta.

Hunter recalled the “good old days” where he traveled from hotel to hotel to market properties. “If someone wanted me to sell a hotel in Charlotte (N.C.), I got in the car and drove to Charlotte,” he reminisced. “We took pictures with the camera and got 50 copies printed and glued them into brochures about the property.”

One of Hunter’s past experiences at IBM helped him create a database using 3-by-5-inch cards. “I didn’t realize it at the time, but so many things that I had done previously were preparing me for this role,” he continued.

As a proponent of continuing education, Hunter created the Hunter Hotel Investment Conference in 1989. Back then, hospitality conferences catered solely to major industry players; little attention was paid to emerging entrepreneurs. After attending the NYU Hospitality Investment Conference, he wanted to create something designed for the "smaller guys"—those doing deals of less than $50 million. He imagined a conference where all could learn, connect and do business in a welcoming environment. Through a partnership with the Cecil B. Day School of Hospitality Administration at Georgia State University, the Hunter Hotel Investment Conference—designed for the hotel industry to network and gather key insights into the buying, selling and management of hotels—was born. Hunter’s hometown of Atlanta hosted 92 attendees for the first conference in 1989.

Hunter Hotel Advisors
L to R: Teague, Bob and Lee Hunter (Hunter Hotel Advisors)

The conference has “hit a strong need,” Hunter recalled. “It's a relaxed conference—not high pressure. We have the education that an owner wants—finance, franchise, legal—all that kind of owner topics.”

The Hunter Hotel Advisors team still runs the conference to this day. While the conference has grown from those 127 attendees to more than 2,000, Hunter recognizes how this hospitality industry is really a family. “I realized how many friends and family were there in the start and how much friends and family are still important to this [conference] now,” he continued. “Yes, there's 2,000 of us now, but that same feeling and attitude is still here. The family has grown but it’s still the relaxed friends-and-family attitude when we are all together.”

Previously in different industries, Hunter’s two sons, Teague (president and CEO) and Lee (chief operating officer) eventually joined him at the helm in the late 1990s to lead the brokerage firm and continue to grow the conference. Today, the Hunter family will celebrate 35 years at the upcoming Hunter Conference in March, and 45 years as a brokerage firm. The company has grown to 25 employees across six offices nationwide, most recently with the addition of a sales team in Texas and a capital-markets team in Los Angeles.

“Everything Bob did when he created the conference was designed for the owner-operator at the time—the investor in the hotel, the guy who owned the asset, and everything that we've done from a conference perspective has been with that owner investor in mind,” said Lee Hunter, who is also the chairman of the Hunter conference.

Each year, the Hunter Conference Award for Excellence and Inspiration recognizes a hotelier who exemplifies exceptional leadership, citizenship and innovation.

While Bob Hunter has retired from the daily business, he still considers those in the industry his family and still attends the conference. At the upcoming 35th Hunter Hotel Investment Conference, Teague and Lee Hunter will present their father with the 2024 Hunter Conference Award for Excellence and Inspiration—signaling a milestone anniversary for the conference and for their dad.

Timeline of the Hunter Conference


The first Hotel/Motel Investors Conference was held Feb. 26-28, bringing together a total of 92 attendees.


The 8th Annual Hotel/Motel Owners & Investors Conference brought in attendees from Ontario, Canada. The conference took place March 10-12, the same year the Olympics were held in Atlanta.


On March 15-17, the event is held as the Hunter Hotel Investment Conference for the first time. The conference venue is also changed to its current home, the Atlanta Marriott Marquis. The first Hunter Conference award is presented.

2015 | 1,000+ ATTENDEES

The 27th Hunter Hotel Investment Conference, held March 25-27, brings in more than 1,000 attendees.


March 16-18, 2016, the Bharat Shah Leadership Speaker Series joins the 28th Hunter Hotel Investment Conference (founded at Georgia State University, the Cecil B. Day School of Hospitality Administration).


The 32nd Hunter Hotel Investment Conference returned May 10-12 after a break during 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

2023 | 2,000+ ATTENDEES

The 34th Hunter Hotel Investment Conference, held March 21-23, brings in more than 2,000 attendees.