Harry Javer is most well known for being the founder and producer of The Lodging Conference, a hugely popular hospitality industry event that has attracted tens of thousands of the hotel industry’s best over the last 20-plus years. Below, you can read up on his insight into starting the conference, how it’s managed to achieve – and maintain – so much success throughout the years, what’s to come for the future of The Lodging Conference, and more.
What is The Lodging Conference?
Javer sums up the conference perfectly, saying, “We bring together the hotel industry’s most influential owners, presidents, CEOs and dealmakers to strategize about development, finance, franchising, management, construction, design and operations. More than just a conference, the entire event is a THINK TANK where everybody in attendance has the opportunity to join in the conversation, discuss issues, and solve problems.” He also adds that, since starting the conference in 1994, “more than 33,000 high-powered hotel industry executives from around the globe have attended The Lodging Conference. 90% of attendees are based in the United States…Over 85% of conference attendees are Presidents, CEO’s or run their own company, brand or business unit.”
What Makes The Lodging Conference Unique
But what really makes The Lodging Conference so unique is the environment. Not only is the event held every year at the luxury JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort and Spa in Phoenix, Arizona (in years past, it was also held at the Arizona Biltmore, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, before moving in 2019), but attendees also get to enjoy a casual dress code, gourmet food, countless opportunities to network, and even some fun and relaxing activities such as yoga, hiking, golf tournaments, and more.
Javer explains his thinking behind the casual atmosphere, saying that, “When people are relaxed, they’re more open to making new contacts, and that leads to deal-making.” And his theory has proven to be true so far. He says that he frequently hears attendees tell him that they make more business contacts and do more deals at The Lodging Conference compared to any other event in the industry.
How The Lodging Conference Got Started
Javer started his professional career in event production after finding an interest for it in college. During his time as a student at Stony Brook University, he helped put on concerts for music legends such as Peter Gabriel, James Taylor, Joan Jett, Bono, and many more. From there, he went to work at The Learning Annex, eventually working his way up to become their executive producer and National Program Director, working closely with founder Bill Zanker. The Learning Annex is the top event production company in the US, putting on over 8,000 events, workshops, expos, classes, and more every year – so it’s safe to say, Javer has his fair share of event production experience. As their National Program Director, he also had the opportunity to produce events for some of the biggest entrepreneurs and public speakers in the world, including Al Gore, Donald Trump, Tony Robbins, Joe Montana, Magic Johnson, George Foreman, and dozens others.
After working in the event production field for several years, Javer decided it was time to start his own event. After doing his research into conferences he could start, he realized that there was potential in the hospitality industry, and a defining characteristic of what he wanted to start was something no one else was doing – a luxury event for hotel professionals. In 1994, the first annual Lodging Conference was held.
What’s Ahead for The Lodging Conference
The Lodging Conference has recently gone through a transition period. Up until 2019, the conference’s 25th year, the event had always been held at the Arizona Biltmore, a Waldorf Astoria Resort in Phoenix, Arizona. However, the conference had started to outgrow the available space, and moved to the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort and Spa, also in Phoenix, for a larger number of rooms for guests, more amenities, and more space for meetings and event space.
Going forward, Javer and his team are looking forward to continuing to make each year bigger and better than before. Check out what’s on the agenda for The Lodging Conference this year, which will be held from September 21, 2020 through September 24, 2020.