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From inspirational keynotes to industry-relevant breakout sessions, you'll gain insight on hospitality issues, new strategies and solutions, and learn best practices.


Keynote Speaker

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Culture that attracts, retains, and delivers

The industry continues to change–predictive scheduling, rising minimum wages, new regulations around safety, shrinking labor pool, increasing inventory and competition. Hear from lodging and restaurant leaders, as well as industry partners on how to build a culture that retains your best talent, attracts recruits, and delivers extraordinary guest experience. We will also discuss rethinking roles and responsibilities, the “highest and best use” of your individual team members and how to get the right people on the bus, in the right seats. Insourcing vs outsourcing, collaboration with vendor partners, and best practices for vendor onboarding will also be covered.


Awards Presentation Sponsored by:

Awards Luncheon Sponsored by:




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What’s Going Well: The Question that Changes Everything

Based on his popular new book, What’s Going Well, Greg takes attendees on a journey to the frontiers of neuroscience and positive psychology and reveals engaging activities that change our physical wiring for the better. Through this entertaining and interactive session, he shows how consistently focusing on the good in our lives can positively impact our leadership, success, and overall well-being, and he shares how to start building the habit here and now.


Through this presentation and practicing the What’s Going Well mindset, attendees will:


• Build a positive work culture and relationships

• Inspire others

• Improve productivity

• Experience better health and well-being

• Generally have a better perspective



Keynote Presentation Sponsored by:




Recognizing Oregon's Outstanding Hospitality Industry Professionals

Oregon’s hospitality industry is brimming with outstanding individuals who go above and beyond, raising the bar for excellence in performance, service and commitment to the industry. As a highlight of the annual ORLA Hospitality Conference, the Hospitality Industry Awards recognize the exemplary performance and qualities that set the high standards for the entire industry to achieve.

Awards include:

  • Restaurant Neighbor Award: Bentley's Grill - Salem

  • Restaurant Neighbor Award: Block 15 Brewing Company - Corvallis

  • Restaurant Neighbor Award: Mo's Restaurants 

  • Faces of Diversity Award: Luis Perez, Elmer's Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner - Corvallis

  • Lodging Operator of the Year: Chuck Hinman, Best Western Plus Hood River Inn

  • Restaurateur of the Year: Kurt Huffman, ChefStable

  • Employee of the Year: Dorothy Petersen, Papa Murphy’s Pizza – Junction City

  • Allied Partner of the Year: Togather Restaurant Consultants




Monday, September 16 • 1:40-2:40 p.m.

What’s in Store for You and Your Employees in 2020?

Clarence M. Belnavis, Partner, Fisher Phillips


If you’ve been paying attention to the news lately, lawmakers have had a very busy session resulting in several developments on the employment law front. This seminar will address the latest employment laws and any significant issues employers need to be aware of in the coming year including: equal pay, non-compete agreements, separation agreements, paid family leave, labor law, etc.


Breakout Session Sponsor: SAIF

Monday, September 16 • 1:40-2:40 p.m.
ADA Compliance for Websites

Shane Swilley, Partner, Cosgrave Vergeer Kester

Aaron Goldstein, Business Analyst, DigiPro Media

Concerned about ADA internet accessibility claims? Learn about legal obligations to make websites and mobile apps accessible for the disabled, and how to comply with those obligations in order to avoid being the target of a lawsuit.


Breakout Session Sponsor: Dell

Monday, September 16 • 2:50-3:50 p.m.
The Legislative Session is Done - What You Need to Know to Stay a Step Ahead

Jason Brandt, President & CEO, ORLA
Greg Astley, Director of Government Affairs, ORLA

Bill Perry, Balance Point Strategies

Join ORLA President & CEO Jason Brandt as he moderates a discussion featuring ORLA Director of Government Affairs Greg Astley and ORLA contract lobbyist Bill Perry. Attendees will leave with a deeper understanding of the ways in which new laws in Oregon will impact hospitality industry operators. 

Breakout Session Sponsor: Jordan Ramis PC 

Monday, September 16 • 2:50-3:50 p.m.
Simplify Or Die: The Four Marketing Principles Any Company Can Apply Today

Michael Dallas Miller, Brock Bowers, Simplify Marketing

We think anyone can produce great marketing. It shouldn't be complicated. It shouldn't be a headache. Just take time to answer foundational questions, start in the right place, and stay focused on the right things. We'll show you how to create a clear message, a strong strategy, and a plan to execute. 

Monday, September 16 • 4:00-5:00 p.m.
Concept and Menu: Chicken or Egg?

Karen Malody, FCSI, Principal, Culinary Options, LLC

A restaurant's menu establishes the requirements for the: a) Equipment that will properly prepare the food within an optimal time frame, b) Design and flow of the kitchen to achieve optimal efficiency, c) Level of skill needed and total labor equation in the back of house, and d) Style of service most appropriate for the front of house. Equally important, however, is that a powerful menu evolves once a clearly defined concept is established. Karen will illustrate specific ways in which the menu manifests the concept intent and impacts every other element of the operation.

Monday, September 16 • 4:00-5:00 p.m.
Protect Your Brand and Customers from Sex Trafficking

Jeff Keith, Spencer Newell and Amanda Gow, Guardian Group

Learn what sex trafficking looks like here in the United States and Oregon, how traffickers operate and how this crime interacts with the hospitality sector. Legislation is changing around the country to mandate sex trafficking training in hotels for all employees, and lawsuits are being brought against hotels holding them liable for sex trafficking crimes. Trafficking occurs at every type of hotel and no property is immune. This session will teach you about the indicators, best practices, available resources and legislation.

Tuesday, September 17 • 11:15-12:15 p.m.
Siri, Help My Customers Find Me!

Kent Lewis, Founder and President, Anvil Media


In the past five to ten years, marketers have seen the emergence and convergence of mobile, local and voice search as significant marketing opportunities. Smart speakers, smart phones and other personal devices contain artificial intelligence-powered personal assistants (Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant, etc.) that connect users with timely answers to questions, recommend products or services, and facilitate purchases. For the hospitality industry, this technology creates an opportunity to be the only answer for voice-activated searches. The same results also populate the knowledge graph in standard search results. Kent Lewis has conducted extensive research and published articles on Voice Search and Position 0 optimization. Learn actionable insights that will help you create visibility as an expert on nearby destinations, activities and questions relating to your property.

Breakout Session Sponsor: CertaPro Painters



Tuesday, September 17 • 11:15-12:15 p.m.
Workforce Challenges: Recruiting, Support, and Retention Strategies

Wendy Popkin, Executive Director, ORLA Education Foundation

Todd Montgomery, M.B.A, Executive in Residence, OSU Hospitality Management Program

Heather DeSart, the Executive Director, Northwest Oregon Works


Workforce recruiting and retention continues to be exceptionally difficult for the hospitality industry. Attend this panel session to hear how ORLAEF is collaborating with industry partners and Workforce Development Boards to help understand and address these challenges; hear new research from OSU’s Hospitality Management Program that highlights key recruiting issues and also reviews highlights of an ORLAEF-commissioned study that showcases retention best practices and employment models; and learn how you can engage and connect with local Worksource offices to help support your organization’s recruiting efforts as well as potentially assist your associates with basic needs.

Breakout Session Sponsor: Performance Resources, Inc.


Tuesday, September 17 • 2:30-3:30 p.m.
Crisis 101: Protecting Your Reputation in the Age of Facebook and Yelp

Chris Edmonds, Principal, Hubbell Communications


In the age of social media, any interaction can become a PR nightmare. Are you prepared? This session will cover the five basics of crisis communication, ensuring you’re ready to protect your brand when the unexpected happens.

Tuesday, September 17 • 2:30-3:30 p.m.

Employee Developed Code of Conduct: How to Create an Engaged and Behavior-based Culture

Cindy Vizzini, Owner and HR Consultant, HR Annie Consulting

“If We Say We Are, then, What Are We?” How do we create an authentic environment that makes us what we tell our customers, clients, vendors, partners and each other who and what we are? Engage in this interactive session and help develop a first code of conduct. HR Annie will offer tips, tricks and real case scenarios to help you effectively launch your own company program, including:


•    Assessing your current leadership team and company values and standards of conduct

•    Understand behavior with consequences vs. behavior because we believe it’s the right thing to do

•    Selecting an internal delegate team and deriving input from all employees

•    Taking information and putting it into actionable standards of conduct

•    Implementing the Employee Led Code of Conduct to the company

•    Measuring its success and holding each other accountable

Tuesday, September 17 • 3:45-4:45 p.m.
The State of the Oregon Hotel Industry

Chase Oeser, CHIA, Business Development Executive, STR


STR will examine how Oregon’s hotels are performing compared to the United States, with focused attention on the Portland market and other key submarkets throughout the state. Additionally, there will be an in-depth examination into the data to look at day-of-week trends, segmentation (group vs. transient), F&B performance and even supply pipeline.

Breakout Session Sponsor: UnitedHealthcare

Tuesday, September 17 • 3:45-4:45 p.m.
Hiring Right the First Time

Cindy Vizzini, Owner and HR Consultant, HR Annie Consulting

You know exactly what and who you are looking for, right? That might be what you think, but what if there are hiring techniques that allow you to hire the right person the first time? HR Annie Consulting will guide your leadership and management team through the process of hiring, from recruitment preparation through asking the Right Questions, the Right Way, the First Time to making the offer. Why not give your company and your future employee the best chance of mutual success?

PRE-CONFERENCE: Monday, September 16 • 9:00am - 11:00am

Travel Oregon 101
Oregon Tourism Commission (Travel Oregon)


The Travel Oregon 101 seminar is an opportunity to dive into Oregon’s travel and tourism industry,

and is designed to benefit visitor-related businesses, organizations and communities. Participants will gain

knowledge of the many opportunities available through Travel Oregon and the network of local, regional,

national and international industry partners.

Register for this seminar separately with Travel Oregon.

Subscribe to the Travel Oregon eNewsletter


POST-CONFERENCE: Wednesday, September 18 • 9:00am - 12:00pm

Workshop for Foodservice Professionals: How to Prevent Food Waste

Food Waste Stops with Me is a collaboration between Metro, Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and city and county governments to help food service businesses reduce food waste.

Create an action plan to save money and increase sustainability in your kitchen. 


An ongoing challenge in the food industry is keeping your food costs down without diminishing food quality. One of the keys to success is food waste prevention. Join industry expert Chef Robb White, Executive Chef and Food Waste Prevention Catalyst, from Leanpath to learn strategies to reduce food waste in your business, empower your employees, reduce your environmental impact, and improve your bottom line. This is an interactive workshop where you will create a Strategic Action Plan for your business based on industry best practices. 

You can add this seminar to your ORLA Hospitality Conference registration or visit FoodWasteStopsWithMe.org for more information.