Joseph Garner grew up in a suburb outside of Chicago, IL. He was the director and the subject of "Craigslist Joe" -- a documentary film that followed Joe for a month of travel across the United States, solely supporting himself via contacting people on the website Craigslist. He spent the month without using any form of currency and without contacting people he already knew, relying on the "kindness and generosity" of Craigslist users. Joseph also runs development for Todd Phillips' and Bradley Cooper's production company, Joint Effort, on the Warner Bros lot. His credits include: The Hangover movies, Due Date, Project X and War Dogs. His short film "The Schedule Makers", which he directed for ESPN 30 for 30, tells the story of how a mom-and-pop team ended up with the daunting and thankless job of MLB scheduling. Garner lives in Los Angeles, CA with his wife, Liz and their dog, Bagel.
Jim Kennett has been operating hostels for over 38 years. He developed four hostels in Oregon and has consulted in the development of many across the US. He and his wife Britta currently own and operate the Northwest Portland International Hostel www.nwportlandhostel.com which hosts over 50,000 overnights per year. The hostel has received a number of awards including a HI national award for the highest standard ratings in the country three times and was ranked #5 in the world by HI online users. Jim is also the co-developer and partner of the HI Miami Beach Hostel www.HI-MiamiBeach.com, a 200 bed facility in the heart of South Beach. Jim currently serves on the national board of directors www.hiusa.org as the representative of the privately owned hostels within HI-USA. He has received the organization’s highest award for hostel development, The Open Door Award, and the highest award for hostel programming, the Interpret America Award. He has a degree from The Evergreen State College and received his Union Carpenters status, with a thorough understanding of construction from design to implementation. Over a period spanning 40 years, Jim has bought and sold real estate ranging from single family homes to commercial buildings. He has good knowledge of real estate acquisition and development.
Courtney Loechl is the editor of Hostelmanagement.com, a hostel coach with hostel.consulting, a writer for Pacific Tradewinds Hostel in San Francisco, and a former hostel manager of many years. She has been in the hostel industry for awhile now, starting out as a backpacker, and then moving into management 7 years ago. She’s worked her way around the world (South Africa, Thailand, the Netherlands, Swaziland, Aus/NZ, California) before coming to Canada in 2017.
This past year she launched her own transformation coaching business, and has been helping clients align to their purpose and then put their dreams into real action. When she’s not busy helping others move their dreams forward, she is working on plans for The Wanderbus, a school bus that will be converted into a mini hostel on wheels, that will travel North America in search of surf, snow, festivals, and intentional community. She loves helping people with their hostels and projects, so if you are feeling stuck or need guidance, don’t hesitate to reach out. She can be reached at email@example.com
While working as a software engineer since 2003 for MIT and later for the New York Times, Joseph simultaneously started hosting travelers and backpackers as a fun hobby on Couchsurfing and Hospitality Club. Eventually he caught the travel bug himself, and left the corporate world in 2011 to start a hostel with 2 friends in New York City. Currently he is the co-founder of Providence Hostel and Guesthouse, which is top-rated on both TripAdvisor and Google Maps for the Providence area. In his spare time he enjoys designing and building mobile phone apps. In the slow season he likes to backpack to non-western countries and ride on top of old school buses (as seen in picture).
I arrived in Vegas in October of 2012. After living in Costa Rica for 23 years it was time for a change. I decided to come back to the city where I was born. After spending 3 months looking for jobs with no luck due to my inexperience working in the US, I almost gave up hope and strted thinking of going back to Costa Rica. Then one night I was lucky to meet the hostel owner thanks to my fathers friend circle. I started working 2 or 3 days a week as a cleaner, then worked my way up and in that process I brought the business back to life! I that process I became manager of Sin City Hostel and also gained part ownership of the business. I am very lucky and happy, married to a beautiful wife and with no plans of going back to the jungle!
Riq Lima is the CEO and co-founder of Worldpackers, a global marketplace connecting travelers and hosts through the exchange of skills for accommodation. Worldpackers is the largest app worldwide that helps hostels in more than 100 countries finding and engaging 800,000+ volunteers in a win-win relationship. The app received USD 2 million in investment. Prior to Worldpackers, Riq worked during 5 years in Investment Banking, quit his job and traveled to more than 50 countries in 3 years.
Karalee Nielsen Fallert
Known as one of the most prolific and progressive restaurateurs in Charleston, SC, Karalee Fallert has been the driving force behind many of the city’s most popular restaurants for 17 years. Originally from Clovis, CA, her culinary education began at Utah Valley University in 1996. After studying culinary arts and visual merchandising for two years, she decided to get back in the field and headed east to pursue her restaurant business dreams. She knew she’d found the right coast when she took a road trip down Highway 17 and crossed the bridge to Charleston in 2000. Karalee started out as a server in several Charleston restaurants then eventually opened the popular tapas bar, Raval, on Upper King Street in 2005. She continued with several more establishments: Taco Boy Folly Beach in 2006; Taco Boy downtown in 2009; Monza in 2007; Closed for Business in 2009; The Royal American in 2011, and The Park Cafe in 2014. In addition to opening and owning many of Charleston’s most popular restaurants, Karalee is a long-time advocate of community projects. She co-founded The Green Heart Project in 2009, as a small school garden at Mitchell Elementary School in downtown Charleston, with the intention of reconnecting the students with fresh, locally grown produce. The garden projects have since grown to seven other schools across the Charleston area and all of Karalee’s restaurants regularly source vegetables from them. Southern Living magazine recently named Karalee one the South’s “most beautiful women” for her contributions to The Green Heart Project and the Historic Charleston Foundation presented Karalee with the IMPACT award in 2014 which acknowledged her as a local champion and pioneer. She was also named one of Charlie magazine’s “50 Most Progressive People” in 2015, and the Charleston Regional Business Journal named Karalee one of the top “40 Under 40” people in Charleston the same year. Karalee is currently in the planning stages for her next two restaurant concepts which will both open in 2018 in the Charleston area, all while enjoying being a new mom to young son, Harley. When time allows, she and her husband spend time building what will eventually be a working farm on Edisto Island, SC.
Jacob Lindsey is the Director of the Department of Planning, Preservation and Sustainability for the City of Charleston. He is an urban designer based in Charleston, South Carolina. His work includes design for public and private clients, with scales varying from individual buildings to entire new towns. Over the past 10 years, his work has been recognized and internationally published. He also holds a teaching position at the Clemson School of Architecture.
Kevin J. High
CEO | VROOMRes
Kevin has always been fascinated by technology and how it can disrupt entire markets. His passion for technology combined with his insightful and in-the-know attitude has lead him to build companies that go public and disrupt industries that are begging for change. As the owner of Charleston’s premier vacation management company, Walk Away Stays, for the past 11 years, Kevin has had to navigate the complex frontier of the industry. In an effort to reduce the burden on his staff, he began using technology to streamline his business. Integrating smart home technology such as keyless locks and Nest simplified the process for his staff. Finding a property management software that did everything he needed without eating into his company’s profits was a challenge. So he gathered a team and built a platform that would help his company manage the chaos of the vacation property management business. Kevin will teach you how embracing technology will help you streamline your business and increase your bottom line. Read more about Kevin at www.vroomres.com/kevin-high
COO | VROOMRes
Ellen Stebbins is a dynamic connector that swirls together a passion for connecting people with her ability to see opportunities and magically make them happen. Her professional journey began with a 10-year career as Assistant VP and Certified Financial Planner with Merrill Lynch in Boston. In 2004, the Carolinas beckoned her back south, and once there, her entrepreneurial spirit kicked into high gear. Her ability to orchestrate every facet of a company’s structure as The Maestro is what she does best and she quickly learned that defining your “why’ and developing your mission + vision around that why is critical to your business success. Learn more about Ellen at vroomres.com/about.
VP of Marketing, VROOMRes | Owner, Bartles & Associates
Ronii is a marketing + branding rockstar that loves how the science of marketing creates the art of business. Her focus on being competitive and results-oriented has earned her an impressive list of credentials including an MBA from The Citadel, President of the Charleston American Marketing Association and Most Influential Women in Business Rising Star Finalist. Through her straightforward, no non-sense style Ronii’s here to teach you how to get in the hearts + heads of your perfect customers and get you more time, money + energy. Find out more about Ronii at vroomres.com/about or roniibartles.com
Joe Gill is the owner and operator of two (soon to be three) hostels in North Carolina. He started Bon Paul & Sharky's in Asheville at the age of 26 with $100 cash and a two credit cards. Thirteen years later, Joe has an MBA and a MS from Appalachian State University. In addition to being an entrepreneur, he works as an energy efficiency consultant for a utility company, assist new start ups as a small business coach, and serves as board member for a local children's theater. In his spare time he enjoys traveling, trail running, and thinking up new business ideas.
Shanequa Renee Singletary
Shanequa Renee Singletary wants to live in a world filled with tiny houses, street corner herb shops and creative marketing plans for every small business owner. As a sales & marketing coordinator with more than 13 years of experience, she’s worked across real estate, commercial manufacturing, and staffing industries producing print & web advertisements, social media marketing plans, and multimillion dollar sales proposals. She currently handles business development with Every Busy Woman and sits on the board for Center for Women and Enough Pie, and was voted as one of Charlie Magazine’s “50 Most Progressive”. Most recently, Shanequa served a 16-month appointment as a member of the City of Charleston’s Short Term Rental Task Force. When she’s not creating website content or engaged in the never ending spiral of research, you can find her crafting herbal remedies & protocols for health & wellness, advocating for the rights of affordable housing by way of tiny house living or actively engaged in homeschooling her daughter. Shanequa Renee is a graduate of the College of Charleston, with a degree in Anthropology.
The Bunk+Brew Crew
Frankie is a Northwest native and active pursuer of global travel. Since living in Ecuador as an exchange student at age 17, he can’t finish one trip before planning the next. “I like to think I’m retracing the steps of early explorers and great thinkers” -- from Charles Darwin on the Galapagos Islands to Edmund Hillary at Mount Everest base camp. As a medical technician with long hours and extended time off, Frankie traveled the world networking with amazing people of all cultures and hopes Bunk+Brew will help fellow travelers do the same.
The Bunk+Brew Crew
Jota (or "J" in English) is an adopted Oregon native and licensed Oregon attorney. Prior to Bunk+Brew, Jota spent four years consulting in-house for an IT company taking cloud-based, analytics software to market and negotiating hundreds of deals totaling over $5 million in sales. Then in Fall 2015, he bought a 4x4 in Los Angeles, drove from Mexico to Panama, and retreated in Cuba. His experience in over 50 hostels across 8 countries led to the inspiration behind Bunk+Brew and his return to the US.
Liz left her career as a speech therapist in 2015 to start a lifestyle brand, The Charleston Weekender. She offers products that help make every day feel more like the weekend and enjoys blogging about travel, interior decor, and entertaining She recently opened a brick and mortar shop called Cannonborough Collective that carries local goods and balloons. Instagram has tremendously helped Liz grow her customer base for her businesses, so she now enjoys consulting with other bloggers & businesses to help them grow their social media presence.
Over the last 6 years Ben Alicea has helped countless retail and service businesses increase their visibility and convert website visitors into customers.
His discussion will focus on the importance of improving your business's visibility on search engines, helping visitors more easily discover your solutions, and the impact this can have on your business's bottom line.
North America Manager | Cloudbeds.com
Diego was born and raised in Lima, Peru, and growing up, he always dreamed of traveling. As soon as the opportunity came, he started set off to travel as much as he could. He’s ventured to more than 30 countries and countless cities, five of which he called home. It was in 2012 that things got serious. He backpacked around South America for more than a year before settling in Brazil where he found a job at Hostelworld.
In 2015, he found his dream job at Cloudbeds - an all-in-one management software that powers more than 17,000 independent hostels, hotels, and inns in 120+ countries. With Cloudbeds, he’s been able to travel while working - a true digital nomad. He has met countless hostel owners and travelers along the way, exchanging experiences and stories, which has become the fuel to his life.