The Independent Lodging Congress takes place October 11-13, 2022 in Los Angeles. I recently spoke with founder Andrew Benioff about why he produces the event.
“The Congress started with the idea of inspiring and being inspired. I’m a curious and creative person. in 2013, I brought on my partners, Eric Warner and Stephen Chan, we’re also curious people, and we enjoy listening to interesting, intelligent people talk about new ideas and what they’re doing.”
Andrew sees the Congress as a series of conversations where participants can learn from each other, both from our speakers on stage or those off stage and just sitting and having a drink.
“I find it fascinating that people come in and the conversations we have and what we learn from them. That’s why we do it.”
“Independent hotels are the laboratory of hospitality”
Brad Wilson, CEO of Ace Hotels, once said that to Andrew and it’s stuck with him.
“Indie hotels are where so many amazing ideas come from. It’s great to come to Congress because that’s where you can see innovative people thinking about new things and hatching new ideas and talking to one another and leaving to do more great things.”
Covering stories not talked about in hospitality today
In Andrew’s experience, most hotel events only focus on big cities and big deals.
“If you look at the schedules for the bigger conferences for five years in a row you can’t really tell what year it was because they continue to talk about the same things and have the same participants year after year.”
This is why Andrew and his team make an effort to include and feature smaller hotel operators doing really interesting things. “Just because someone only has twenty or thirty rooms doesn’t mean they can’t be an inspiration for others.”
As an example, the Congress this year has a panel about mental health in hospitality.
“I think mental health is it really important topic, and we’re working on a panel that is both for guests and for employees. We want to focus on who in our space is leading the charge on this and doing really interesting things.”
“We try to look at the soft side of things such as design and art and mental health – as well as ownership, investment, and development aspects of providing hospitality. People want to learn both of these things. They’re not just coming to our events for one thing or the other – they’re coming for both.”