Dec 04, 2015

Biz Mix: Hospitality Executive Exchange conference


Hospitality Executive Exchange (HEE) launched five years ago with one priority: to focus on conversations. The program has evolved into one of the most exclusive and talked about conferences in the hospitality industry and has quickly become a favorite among suppliers and multi-unit operators.

HEE East was recently held in August at the beautiful Omni Amelia Island Plantation & Resort. The location provided the perfect backdrop for conversations and cocktails with a great balance of education, face-to-face meetings and networking. Jen Robinson, CEO of The Pineapple Group, which owns and manages the Exchange, stated, “Our goal to provide fresh, relevant and unique opportunities for both operators and suppliers to engage in a very relaxed and productive way continues with each program. HEE East was our best program to date.”


One of the proudest moments for Robinson and the HEE board during HEE East was the activity to raise funds for CORE. “We have been looking for an opportunity that would fit our event and we found it in CutThroat Cocktails,” shared Philip Raimondo of Beam Suntory, who spearheaded the project. “We raised more than $28,000 for CORE and honestly, I am so grateful to everyone who joined the fun and really made it happen,” Robinson added.

“We had four amazing teams of mixologists and bartenders who embraced the idea and truly got into it. The winning team was Tony Abou-Ganim and Charlotte Voisey, but with all of their sabotages, their road to victory was well earned. Joe Smith, who is the president of the CORE board, served as our master of ceremonies for the event. We are already planning for HEE West!” stated Robinson.

HEE is held on both the east and west coasts with a limited number of seats available for each location. The Exchange is not about quantity – it is about quality in every aspect. The one-on-one meetings are the hub of the program, balanced with the right amount of education, networking and, of course, fun. HEE East was packed with relevant and inspiring conversations from beginning to end. Billy Bush, a celebrity host for “Access Hollywood,” kicked off the program with his welcome keynote that set the tone for the entire program. Billy is a partner in Beach Whiskey, which announced its launch at the Exchange. Tito Beveridge, founder of Tito’s Handmade Vodka, was the final dinner speaker and his story resonated with every person in the room.


Stuart Melia, vice president of Food & Beverage for Craftworks Restaurants and co-chairman of the HEE advisory board, stated, “This is a ‘must attend’ event for me as I get to connect with current and new suppliers in a way that builds on, or begins, a relationship based on our core business goal of hospitality. When you spend time together at the Exchange, it is about more than a transaction, more than a purchase. You are discussing the needs of your concepts and how certain brands or equipment can support improving guest satisfaction, sales and profit for your restaurant concepts. The conversations are powerful and lasting in the setting Jen provides – way more so than a 30-minute meeting in the office with your phone going off and emails coming in. I highly recommend the HEE to anyone wanting to grow their business the right way.”

HEE West planning is underway with dates set for April 2016. The Exchange is a small, intimate opportunity to build and maintain relationships in a very high-end location. It’s a family of food and beverage professionals who are sharing insights, ideas and information. If you’re interested in attending, please reach out to Jen Robinson at and “let the conversation begin.”