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Talking Independent Hoteliers’ Needs at INDIE CONFAB: Miami

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Last week several OBMI staff joined 100 plus hospitality industry experts for the 2nd annual IndieConfab in the Lab Miami, Wynwood. The event centered around how independent hotels and resorts can differentiate themselves to generate marketing buzz, improve operations and increase revenue. The sold-out event also discussed the responsibility of hoteliers to work with, and within, the communities they serve, and how successful properties are focusing on sustainability.

Leveraging Art to Create a Sense of Place
Independently hoteliers aptly kicked off the event in the heart of Miami’s art scene, Wynwood, discussing the need and the opportunities created by leveraging art into a property. The diverse panel included Brandi Reddick, Cultural Affairs Manager for the City of Miami Beach who shared how art not only generates interest in a destination but also becomes the anchor for the experience. Chris Sariego of Brightline shared how the company utilized its train stations to become focal points and designed art installations into the building from the beginning. Panelists also agreed the art visitor has higher tourism spends making them a priority for boutique luxury hoteliers.

Connect and Improve the Community
Heard from a variety of panelists it was universally agreed that the more independent properties connected with their local communities, the more successful they are. Mondrian operator, Keith Menin of Menin Hospitality, shared his experiences of offering free yoga to area residents, citing examples of how this has helped his property gain new clients and improve their brand recognition.

OBMI Senior Project Manager Beatriz DePaulis remarked, “It was amazing to hear the panelists share how she turned passion into purpose. I believe it is a great reflection of what independent hoteliers and those who work with them believe.”

A Recipe For Partnerships, 1 + 1 =5
For independent properties, its often essential business and a way to operate efficiently to forge strategic partnerships, Craig Robins, developer of the Miami Design District shared his personal stories and believes that partnerships are incredibly successful in building successful communities. According to Robins “1+1 must equal at least 5!”

“Hearing Mr. Robins share how he connected with different community organizations and business owners to create a neighborhood culture complete with arts, gastronomy, philanthropy, and retail was inspiring.” shared Eduardo Gomez, OBMI Project Manager.

Hospitality Must Focus on Climate Change
Climate change and guests’ demands for a more sustainable future was a recurring theme throughout the event, with several panelists discussing the current impact of climate change, specifically in the South Florida hospitality industry. They shared ideas and brainstormed together on how to address it identified potential opportunities that a focus on sustainability can bring. Avra Jain of Vagabond Group shared her experiences of creating a more sustainable property and admitted that although it may be operationally more expensive, there are many things properties can do while preserving the guest experience.

The one-day event was a succession of rapid-fire panels filled with industry insights and creative ideas on how independent hoteliers can forge their path to success in a crowded hospitality industry. IndieConfab events are put on by the Independent Lodging Congress.