Running concurrently with the two-day trade fair, BDwest’s conference program featured 100-plus speakers in interactive panel discussions—eight with IDCEC and AIA accreditation—and intimate Q+As on the exhibit floor. Panelists included visionaries from Ace Hotels, Aparium Hotel Group, Best Western Hotels & Resorts, Cachet Hospitality Group, Dream Hotel Group, Equinox Hospitality, Gensler, Geolo Capital, HBA/Hirsch Bedner Associates, Hilton, Holiday Inn Americas, Hyatt, InterContinental Hotels Group, Lark Hotels, Marriott Intl., MOXY Hotels, Puccini Group, Rockwell Group, Stonehill & Taylor, The Gettys Group, Viceroy Hotel Group, WATG, Wilson Associates and more, in a program that featured more owners and developers than in previous years and a greater emphasis on skill-building, how-to information for design professionals.
One of the most talked-about sessions of the conference was the “Investors’ Outlook” panel on Wednesday morning, April 5, featuring executives from Bainbridge, The Chartres Lodging Group, Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties Co. Ltd., Hersha Hospitality Management, KSL Capital Partners and TQP Investments LLC. Their thoughts on where the smart development money is going in 2017 and beyond provided food for thought for an audience of designers, operators and buyers/specifiers interested in the financial aspects of hospitality design and the overall economic trends affecting this industry.
Among the other sessions garnering buzz on the exhibit floor: “Fine Print: The Art of Specifying,” with panelists from Clear on Black, Planning, Design & Application, Inc. and Ramsey & Associates; “The Other Side: Designers, Clients and Making the Perfect Project,” with panelists from Beleco, KHP Capital Partners, Theresa Fatino Design and Westmont Hospitality Group; and the standing-room-only “Wood 101: Achieving Design Vision and Budget Through Furniture Manufacturing,” with panelists from High Point University, Lacquer Craft Hospitality, Looney and Associates, North Carolina State University and Seminole State College. Other sessions explored topics such as social media, biophilic design, hot sectors in hospitality—from pop-ups to cruise ships, and best-practice strategies for everything from designing more attention-getting and profitable restaurants to creating seamless collaborations.
“I thought the panels were excellent,” said George Scammell, director of hotel design and refurbishment, Holland America Group, Serving Princess Cruise Lines, who reported a productive trade fair experience. “I saw some products on display at BDwest that we would like to purchase immediately for the guest room cabins aboard one of our ships.”
BDwest attendees also had multiple opportunities to engage with thought leaders in the industry, from the interactive “Meet the Boutique 18” and the “2017 Up-and-Coming Hoteliers” sessions to the signature “Boutique Design Power Players: Women Leaders in Hospitality” breakfast and panel discussion, presented in partnership with NEWH, and sponsored by Lusive Décor. A ticketed event moderated by Mary Scoviak, executive editor, Boutique Design, and conference director, HMG, the Power Players panel included: Sophia Chan, interior design director at Miami, Florida-based Crescent Heights; Mary Beth Cutshall, senior vice president & chief business development officer at Atlanta, Georgia-based HVMG (Hospitality Ventures Management Group); Misty Delbridge, executive vice president at Englewood, Florida-based Montague; Amy Jakubowski, managing director & design director at Dallas, Texas-based Wilson Associates; Kay Lang, president + chief executive officer at Los Angeles, California-based Kay Lang + Associates; and Jeanne Starling, director of design development at Las Vegas, Nevada-based MGM Resorts International Design.
“BDwest’s 2017 conference programming gave attendees a one-stop shop for making their projects and processes the best they can be,” says Scoviak. “Our Investor Outlook, Women Leaders and Megatrends panels gave them insights into what’s ahead for the industry. Our Up-and-Coming Hoteliers, Lifestyle Leaders and Brand Central executives drilled down on how hotel concepts will change and what that means for design concepts, budgets and time frames. The 20-plus panels as well as the interactive sessions in the Designed Spaces on the trade fair floor ticked ‘need-to-know’ boxes on everything from how to write the perfect spec to how to create a living wall in a pop-up space. Attendees got a 360-degree look at their industry and opportunities.”
Also at the Women Leaders breakfast, NEWH awarded its $5,000 NEWH Women Leaders Scholarship, sponsored by HMG, to Scarlett Schmitt, a hospitality management major at Kendall College, and the $3,000 NEWH Colleen Smith Studio Series Scholarship, sponsored by Séura, to Louis Jeong Soo Kim, an environmental design major at the Art Center College of Design.