We ARE Southern Hospitality

Dr. Robert J. Thompson

Dr. Robert J. Thompson, CHA, TMP
Facilitator
University of South Alabama

Dr. Robert Thompson is a seasoned industry leader with 30+ years of work experience in the hospitality industry in destination markets such as Las Vegas, NV, Beverly Hills, CA, and Biloxi, MS. He held positions of hotel general manager, cruise director, country club manager, and capped his industry career in corporate marketing with Wyndham Worldwide, Inc.  Robert is a C.H.A. (Certified Hotel Administrator) with the American Hotel & Lodging Association and holds a T.M.P. (Tourism Marketing Professional) certification through the Southeast Tourism Society.  In 2009, Robert received his M.B.A. in Hospitality & Tourism from the prestigious University of Guelph in Canada. In 2016, Dr. Thompson received his Ph.D. in Human Capital Development from The University of Southern Mississippi.  Dr. Thompson is the Interim Chair and Assistant Professor for the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management at the University of South Alabama, and has taught adjunct at California State University – East Bay and The University of Southern Mississippi.

Susan Miller

Susan Miller
Panelist
Director of Human Resources, Ritz-Carlton Reynolds

Susan L. Miller is the Director of Human Resources for The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee in Greensboro, GA.  With over 38 years of Human Resource experience with Marriott international Susan has served as a business partner supporting Marriott, JW, Select Service and Ritz-Carlton Brands and varying regional and corporate initiatives.  As a tenured member of the Human Resources organization she contributes a high level of human resource generalist knowledge and expertise in the areas of talent acquisition, succession/workforce planning, performance management and development to help influence and execute business objectives in the most efficient manner.

As an active board member to the Greene College and Careers Academy (GCCA), Susan was a key contributor to securing the $3.15 million grant from the Technical College System of Georgia to develop a work based learning dual enrollment program curriculum.

Susan has worked at and supported community involvement with local schools and community based organizations through Greene County Chamber of Commerce Education Committee, Succeed through Service (grades 7-8) and Pete Nance’s Boys and Girls Club.  Susan also regularly partners with Goodwill to provide facilitation of Essentials of Service to community partners, temporary employment opportunities to get community members back to work, and conducting workshops on interviewing skills.

Susan understands that the Ladies and Gentlemen are the heart of the business and that it is through their unique gifts, talents and dedication to guests that makes the Brand so successful and legendary.  It is critical to the business success to have an engaged workforce first through a robust talent acquisition initiative,  second through a talent development and growth mindset and third by creating memorable experiences and building meaningful relationships with the Ladies and Gentlemen. 

 

Jeff Segan

Jeff Segan
Panelist
Vice President of Food & Beverage and Hotel Operations, Beau Rivage

Jeff has been the Vice President of Food & Beverage and Hotel Operations at the Beau Rivage for five years. Jeff is a seasoned hotel executive who has achieved success in the industry by focusing revenue, driving results, and consistently exceeding guest and associate expectations. He is the former General Manager for Palm Beach Marriot Singer Island Beach Resort and Spa in South Florida. He has held positions as General Manager of Marriott Bay Point Golf Resort and Spa, as well as General Manager for Marriott Suites Clearwater Beach in Sand Key, Florida. Jeff began his hospitality career in 1986 after earning a degree at the Culinary Institute of America in New York. Some of his accomplishments include recognition as “Midwest Chef of the Year” by Marriott in 1999 and “Best Overall Food & Beverage Operations – Midwest” in 1999 and 2000. Marriott Sales team of the year 2004 and Conde Nast Gold list in 2009.

Drew Fransen

Drew Fransen
Panelist
Executive Vice President, Global Sales

Drew Fransen, a graduate of the University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business and School of International Relations, continued his graduate studies at Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan. Mr. Fransen started his career in Japan working with Bristol Myers, Japan, introducing new product to the Japanese medical industry. Returning to the States, Mr. Fransen worked with JALPAK, a division of Japan Airlines, and expanded his travel industry role as Vice President of Gala Tours and Global Advantage Travel.

With a diverse international background and fluent in the Japanese language, Mr. Fransen taught Japanese and Business Practices in the California University System. Recognized as a leader in the Travel Industry, Mr. Fransen was invited to participate on the highly acclaimed Disney International Marketing Committee represented by delegates from key destinations around the world. Working in close relations with several major film and entertainment studios, Mr. Fransen worked as Executive Producer on several independent and commercial productions, opening a post-production facility in Southern California.

Mr. Fransen was the Director of Travel Industry Sales at the Anaheim Hilton and Towers, and continued his hotel experience with key brands including Starwood Resorts, Wyndham Hotels, Melia International, and independent properties, including Hotel Midtown Atlanta and the historic Georgian Terrace Hotel. Mr. Fransen worked with several management companies including Luxe Hotels, Benchmark Hospitality, and Crescent Hotels and Resorts.

Mr. Fransen has achieved many accolades in the industry and has received numerous awards, including several awards of excellence. Mr. Fransen is also currently a committee member for the Japan-America Society of Georgia and an active member on the International Marketing Committee for the Atlanta Visitors and Convention Bureau. Mr. Fransen now leads all National and Global Sales efforts for Valor.