NEW Speakers - European Conference 2017

Keynote Speaker

Ben Ryan

Fiji Rugby Sevens

Ben Ryan is one of the most in-demand speakers of the year. Organizations and audiences around the world want to hear from the man who is fast achieving legendary status as one of the greatest coaches of his generation.

From his early years as a club rugby player, to seven highly successful years as the England Rugby 7s coach, he then took the biggest risk of his career, accepting the job as coach of the Fiji Rugby 7s team. This meant going from SW London and all of its first-world comforts, to the many challenges of working within a dictatorship and for a bankrupt employer. Three years later, he had led them to gold at the Rio Olympics; just one of the many historic accomplishments that Ben coached them through during his time with the team.

He has learned a lot about leadership, collaboration, teamwork, communication, culture and success from these extraordinary accomplishments. His moving stories inspire new thinking on topics such as effective ways to build trust, adapting your approach to the context, measuring performance in a meaningful way, and how treating individuals as such can make the difference between first or last place.

Ben, who also has a teaching degree from Cambridge University, is an engaging, charming, mesmerizing speaker who will leave an audience on the edge of their seat, and empowered with tools to make real change in the way they lead their lives and lead in their jobs.

Kanishka Agiwal

Associate Partner, Global Watson Leader
IBM Corporation

Kanishka Agiwal leads IBM's Cognitive Solutions, Watson, for the Travel & Transportation industry globally. His primary areas of focus are around personalization, deep cognitive behavior and next-gen analytical capabilities, omni-channel strategy, new revenue generation, mobility, loyalty solutions to create a differentiated experience for both T&T clients and their customers. He works extensively across global markets with significant stints in all geographies and major countries.

In his previous roles, he has held key positions around Travel & Transportation business development, solutions and offerings portfolio that IBM takes to the market and oversee the conception, development and take to market, industry solutions for T&T. He was also the Strategy and Change Service line leader at IBM, focusing on strategy and transformation for clients in banking and retail industries. Mr. Agiwal has also been a part of key large IBM transformation initiatives internally as well as its clients.

He is a member of IBM Industry Academy, that drives eminence and industry leadership in the market. He also speaks regularly at industry conferences and trade bodies on areas of travel, transportation, and cognitive. He is also an adjunct faculty at various b-schools in the areas of consulting, strategy, and communications. He holds a certification in Payment Cards (PCI). He has been a part of the IBM Corporate Service Corps with a stint in Vietnam. In addition, he also serves on the board of advisors for startups in the areas of education and healthcare.

Mr. Agiwal has a Masters in Business Administration from Sp Jain Institute of Management & Research, India as well as a Bachelors in Engineering (Computer Science).

Charles Ehredt

Currency Alliance

Charles (Chuck) Ehredt is a serial entrepreneur and has participated in 23 innovative companies as a business angel investor. Over the course of his career, he has focused on helping companies align the right technologies to achieve meaningful business objectives. As CEO and Co-founder of Currency Alliance, Chuck is leading the effort to help loyalty programs extend their platforms using cloud technologies and Blockchain to enhance the real value of loyalty currencies for customers in a more open ecosystem of trading partners.

Ted Horner

Managing Director
E. Horner & Associates Pty Ltd.

In 1989, Ted Horner launched a consulting to the hospitality industry. He is now widely respected as Australia's leading consultant in this area. In 1996, he launched Australia's first dedicated hospitality technology exhibition and conference. Today this event is still going, and it is now called Hotel Operations Technology (HOT). In 2002, he was a founding member of HTNG and today he is an Executive Advisor to HTNG. In 2004, he was the first non-US person to be elected to the HITEC Technology Hall of Fame for his contribution to the advancement of technology in the hospitality industry. Since the early 90's he has traveled extensively throughout the world to speak at many hospitality technology conferences and has written many articles on technology that have been published all over the world.

Brian Lewis

OpenJaw Technologies

A technologist who started his career writing video games, Brian has over 20 years of experience in travel technology. Having been heavily involved in SITA's Blockchain implementations and PoCs, he has knowledge of both the low level technical intricacies of teh technology as well as regulatory and industry implications of its adoption. As CTO of OpenJaw Technologies, his current focus is Asia and the rolling out of e-Commerce platforms at scale to the Chinese airline market.

Graeme Powell


Graeme has in excess of 20 years experience of technology within the hospitality industry. He is the founder of Veridicum, a company specialising in Assurance, Benchmarking and Consultancy with respect to hospitality technology. Having initially started in hospitality technology working in a finance role for Quadriga, he left to start as iBAHN’s first employee in EMEA and subsequently became Managing Director for the region building that division over a 14 year period before deciding to leave to found Veridicum. He has a particular interest in using the data available from hotel WiFi networks to improve the offering to guests. Graeme has a BSc. (Econ.) from the London School of Economics and is a qualified Chartered Accountant. He has been a member of the Advisory Boards for both the International Hotel Investment Forum and the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference.

Douglas Rice

Managing Director
Hospitality Technology Network

Douglas Rice is an industry leader in the global hospitality technology industry. He advises hotels, technology providers, and investors on strategic technology planning, market development, funding, and mergers and acquisitions. He sits on boards of directors of two hospitality technology providers and on advisory boards of three others. Douglas was a founder of HTNG and served as its first chief executive from 2004 to 2015, following 15 years as a strategy consulting advising hotels and technology vendors. Douglas was the 2012 inductee into HFTP’s International Hospitality Technology Hall of Fame; is the sole recipient of the Lifetime “Most Valued” Award from China Hospitality Technology Alliance; and was featured in a 2008 Hotel Business cover story as one of the most influential technology executives in hospitality. He has been a frequent speaker at industry conferences around the world and has authored dozens of published articles. Douglas earned his Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Mathematics with honors at Dartmouth College and an MBA with highest distinction from Harvard Business School.

Chris Ruff

Managing Director
Driven Growth

Chris Ruff is an entrepreneur that has a passion for new technology and disruptive business opportunities. Chris has spent 20+ years, in various executive leadership roles in the software, mobile and IoT industries.

The last 10 years, Chris was President and CEO of UIEvolution, a global leader in enterprise software for the connected car, mobile and the Internet of Things. With over 200 employees in Seattle, WA and Tokyo, Japan, UIEvolution proudly supports industry leading companies including Toyota, Ford, DIRECTV, Panasonic, Princess Cruise Line and many other Fortune 1000 companies.

Chris has an MBA from the University of Washington, but more importantly has deep operational experience defining corporate strategy, developing business plans and raising millions of dollars in venture capital needed to create successful high growth technology companies.

Andrew Sanders

VP Travel & Hospitality

Andrew Sanders has held executive and sales leadership positions at global companies specializing in enterprise hospitality technology solutions for over 20 years. Andrew began his career at McDonnell Douglas Information Systems in the UK, leading sales, development and project management of a leading domestic hotel central reservations software platform. Still serving hospitality enterprise customers, he continued to lead the strategic development and large system sales of unified PMS-CRS solutions in the UK, eventually moving to the USA in 2000 with the acquisition of an NJ-based PMS solution vendor (M Corp).

Andrew’s involvement in the hotel sector includes mobile technologies such as Mobile Key room access, in-building Distributed Antenna System (DAS) infrastructure, mobile application development including location based marketing and guest engagement plus in-room entertainment. His notable sales achievements were enterprise solutions to Whitbread plc, Bass Leisure Retail and the US Army Lodging.

He is currently VP of Travel & Hospitality for North America at DataArt, a global technology consultancy that designs, develops and supports software solutions in select industries. Among other services, DataArt helps companies move forward in their exploration of blockchain/distributed ledger technology (DLT), actively partnering with the leading players and consortia in the blockchain world and maintain expertise in the various flavors and permutations of DLT, including Hyperledger, Ethereum,, and others. The company has been steering and developing several blockchain projects within the various industries that focus on securities settlement, welfare payments and the streamlining of complex business processes and interactions.

At DataArt, Andrew leads initiatives in the areas of business strategy and innovation mainly in the hospitality technology sector.

Finn Schulz

Schulz Consulting

Finn Schulz (64), Danish national, has a 43-year international career within Westin Hotels, SAS International Hotels, Radisson SAS Hotels & Resorts and Carlson-Rezidor Hotels behind him. Originally educated as an engineer with low voltage systems as speciality, he joined Westin Hotels (then Western International Hotels) in Copenhagen during the opening of their first hotel in Europe.

After a number of years in Hotel Management during which Finn Schulz completed a computer analysts/programmer education, he moved into the Information Technology field in a specialist role. Initially Finn Schulz joined the Corporate Offices of SAS International Hotels as a Systems Development Manager and later moved into the position as the IT-Director of the company. A position that he has held nine years until he was named Vice President Information Technology in 1999.

The Corporate IT-Department of Rezidor SAS Hospitality set the standards and strategies for the company's Information Technology as well as participates in installations, new hotel developments and second level support.

During the years Finn Schulz has led the company into a complete new era with enterprise wide solutions for electronic communications, distribution and guest enabling systems throughout the 350+ hotels in EMEA.

Finn Schulz retired from Carlson-Rezidor in connection with the recent acquisition of the company by Chinese HNA.

During the years, Finn Schulz has been active in various Industry Leading organizations and other others chaired sessions at Eurhotec-98 in Nice on the subject of Data Privacy, based on the EU Directive now being replaced by GDPR.