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Tatiana Swedek / ILC’s Hospitality, Lifestyle, and Travel Event

June 12, 2019 | Interview by Katie Capri

The revolution of the hospitality industry comes as no surprise to those of us in New York. Specialization and collaboration across industries have made travel a matter of brand loyalty and integration beyond hotel reward points. Independent Lodging Congress and its new event, INDIE Cultivate, are looking to the future of intersections of hospitality, travel, and lifestyle.

With INDIE Cultivate around the corner on July 9, I chatted with Tatiana Swedek, ILC’s Director of Marketing & Operations, to get to know more about ILC’s mission for the future of the hospitality industry, what makes her workday tick and what you can expect at the ILC’s New York event this year.

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Tatiana Swedek, Independent Lodging Congress’s Chief Marketing Officer

Indie Lodging Industry Insiders

Dedicated to innovation in independent hospitality, ILC organizes experiences of discovery, collaboration and idea generation for owners and operators of independent hotels, striving to connect visionaries and thought leaders inside (and outside) the lodging sector. Their Indie Congress flagship summit moved to the West Coast this October (its sixth year!). That doesn’t mean ILC has left Manhattan events behind.

This year marks the first iteration of a INDIE Cultivate: A Hospitality, Lifestyle + Travel Pitch Event on Tuesday, July 9 at The Standard High Line Hotel. A day of inspiring hospitality start-up pitches, all-star judges, thoughtful panels, networking and more.

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Photo courtesy of Tatiana Swedek

Hospitality, Travel and Lifestyle Event of the Future

What differentiates INDIE Cultivate from the big INDIE Congress?

INDIE Congress mostly caters to Senior Leadership in the hospitality industry. For INDIE Cultivate, we want to reach younger companies and start-ups. At Cultivate, we’re looking at the future of hospitality and travel, rather than focusing on current trends. By looking at different parts of society and culture, how they intersect and rely on one another, we hope to connect younger and outside-the-industry professionals with mentors. Cultivate is a place for disruptors. If ILC is a whole, we want to create a good blend of right-brain, left-brain balance, creative and business, hospitality and tangential industries.

We see INDIE Cultivate as an anti-conference conference: a large majority of our speakers are not in hospitality at all, but tangential industries. We’re interested in the cross-pollination between worlds, speaking to the unique consumer of today, where integration is everything. Many speakers are from tech, media, or fitness and wellness, like John Foley of Peloton. All these industries are more closely related to hotels than ever before and their integration drives consumer behavior. So why not get all these people together to share their skills as we look to the future of hotels and lodging?

Can you tell us a little about what you do at Independent Lodging Congress?

I run all operations and marketing for ILC, which hosts 3 yearly events for creative professionals in the independent hospitality, travel + lifestyle industries. This includes high-level hoteliers, restaurateurs, techies, creatives, and more. When people ask what I do, I usually say it’s complicated because I have my hands in everything! Ultimately, I create experiences that (hopefully) inspire new ways of thinking about business and help to foster meaningful connections.

I, along with our Founder + Chairman, Andrew Benioff, handpick unique speakers and curate thought-provoking discussions. Primarily, I search out and create strategic partnerships, spearhead digital marketing efforts, and manage all operations of our organization. Identifying and launching new types of events is also a huge role I play as well.

We’re super excited to launch INDIE Cultivate on July 9 and get some younger companies in front of our community. It’s our first focus on the start-up and venture capital space, which we see as a key element to looking toward the future of our industries. 

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Independent Lodging Congress

Inspiration on the Clock

What part of your career inspires you the most?

My duties change daily which means there’s absolutely never a dull day at the office. The constant challenge of balancing multiple projects at a time keeps me fueled. 

I’m also constantly inspired by the people I get to interact with on a day-to-day basis. Not only are they well-respected in their given industries, but they are extremely giving of their time and passionate about what they do. It’s truly humbling.

What is your favorite moment of your career so far?

In 2018, I launched ILC’s Confab series. These are 1-day events exploring a given city’s indie hospitality scene and community. Our first Confab was in Washington D.C. and we just had our second one in Miami. ILC’s Confab was the first event I worked on without an events team.  I love a good dive into foreign territory and creating an event from scratch. 

Do you have a career role model? If so, what about them inspires your career?

My mom Judi Swedek is a huge career role model. She worked on Wall Street in the 1980’s and 1990’s. As a woman, that wasn’t the healthiest environment. Within the first year of having me, she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. She continued to work and had to resort to keeping her diagnosis from her company, in fear that she would lose her job. This was all while raising a baby as a single mother. If that determination isn’t inspiring, I don’t know what is!

In the industry, I look up to many of the greats: Chip Conley, Liz Lambert, Brad Wilson, etc. They’re doing the most creative work in our industry. I truly value that right-brain, left-brain balance.

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Swedek soaking up some first class hospitality.

Hospitality Lifestyle

If you could eat lunch with anyone, living or departed, who would it be? Why?   

That’s a tough one. I’d have to say Anthony Bourdain. He looks at food, culture and people in a very special way. That perspective is very valuable. 

Can you describe your favorite “New York” moment?

Despite now living in Philadelphia, I was born in New York City. As a toddler, my mom would take me to The Odeon Restaurant in Tribeca. The bartender, whom I referred to as ‘Monster,’ would carry me on his side while serving drinks. Only in New York! It’s funny, but that’s where I’d like to think my passion for hospitality started ….the seed was planted.

Is there a special beverage you can’t go without each day?  

I’m a Pinot Grigio girl. In the industry you either party hard or you don’t imbibe at all! But since December I’ve been on a solid Kombucha wave.

Favorite genre of music?  

I’ve been listening to a lot of RnB, Rap and Reggaeton music. Brent Faiyez has been on steady repeat lately. Keep it going.

INDIE Cultivate: A Hospitality, Lifestyle + Travel Pitch Event
July 9, 2019 at The Standard High Line Hotel.
For more info on the event, click here.

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