“Of course great hotels have always been social ideas, flawless mirrors to the particular societies they serve” said the great American journalist and novelist Joan Didion.

Most of us have a soft spot for hotels. A hotel is the only place in the world whose final goal, mission and vision is to offer you an unforgettable experience and make sure you feel so good that you want to return as soon as possible. Providing accommodation is never just about taking care of basic needs. It’s much more than that. Hotels know this. That’s why we love them.

Here’s what the industry leaders had to say about them on the TED stage:

The Soul of a Hotel | Mark Harmon | TEDxWilmingtonSalon

“The designer Philippe Stark said, that a great hotel combines intelligence, efficiency, culture, comfort, and always a touch of poetry. And Hemingway famously stated that a requirement is a bar somewhere on the premises.”

If a hotel has a soul, it must have a life beyond its physical walls. Hotels can localize by inspiring affection for its people, living in harmony with its landscape, and inspiring soulfulness through service. Mark Harmon is the Founder of Auberge Resorts Collection, an international portfolio of luxury hotels, resorts and residences. Each property is uniquely conceived to reflect its location and culture, yet all share a crafted approach to luxury expressed through captivating design, exceptional cuisine and spas, and gracious service. Mark’s passion is to create iconic places that will be an enduring and contributing business in the local community and destination.

Global Trends In Luxury Hospitality | Jerry Inzerillo | TEDxWilmingtonSalon

“In my world service is nobility of thinking, it’s nobility of doing. It’s what the great Archbishop Desmond Tutu calls imbuntu – the humanity that draws us all together.”

Jerry shares from his vast collection of stories from a stellar career. His takeaways? Service is nobility, service leads to success, and service deserves recognition. Gerard Inzerillo is Chief Executive Officer of Forbes Travel Guide. Jerry, as he is known by most in the business, is a visionary recognized for his trademark innovation and his extensive network of contacts in tourism, hospitality, entertainment and business, cultivated during his four decades as a manager and executive in the hospitality and entertainment industries. During his storied career, Inzerillo has developed some of the world’s most famous and successful lifestyle brands in tourism and entertainment. His leadership has been instrumental in the successful globalization of Forbes Travel Guide as well as in the conceptualization and operations of breakthrough hotel properties, such as Atlantis, One&Only Resorts, Ian Schrager Hotels, Four Seasons and Hilton Hotels. As CEO of Forbes Travel Guide since May 2014, Inzerillo has successfully lead the company from its North American origins to the most trusted and respected recognition of service excellence worldwide. Forbes Travel Guide evaluates more than 2,000 of the world’s finest properties. He conceptualized, opened and positioned such avant-garde properties as Morgans, Royalton and Paramount in New York; the historic Delano in Miami Beach; and Mondrian in Los Angeles.

A Hospitality Mindset: Changing the World, One Day at a Time | Barbara Lang | TEDxCornellU

“If you want to change the world, change it on a daily basis with the people who cross your path, and if you do that the world will follow.”

At TEDxCornell, Barbara Lang describes how we can each change the world every day by first changing our behavior towards the people who cross our path on a daily basis. Barbara Lang is a veteran public speaker, career coach, etiquette engager, connector and food entrepreneurship consultant with over 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry. With a long and diverse career nationally and internationally, Barbara believes that developing a “Hospitality Mindset”, no matter the circumstance, leads to an enhanced and distinctive style of engagement benefiting everyone – both in and out of the workplace.

Hospitality dreams | Ben Justus at TEDxCornellU

“Hospitality is more than just a job. It’s a lifestyle.”

BEN JUSTUS visited Cambodia in 2006 and was struck by the warmth and hospitality of the country’s people. During his travels he recognized that, despite Cambodia booming in tourism and economic growth, deep down it is a country rebuilding itself from the Cambodian genocide. During his travels, he began to ask himself how a developing country like Cambodia can utilize this growing hospitality industry to alleviate poverty in local communities. Ben realized that he and others could use their backgrounds in hospitality to make a difference for the underprivileged young adults in Cambodia. A year later, while still a student at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, Ben founded EGBOK (Everything’s Gonna Be OK) Mission, an international nonprofit organization alleviating poverty by enabling underprivileged young adults in Cambodia to be self-supporting by providing education, training, and employment opportunities in the hospitality industry and utilizing a comprehensive approach with an emphasis on life skills development. EGBOK Mission envisions a Cambodian community where everyone has equal opportunities and has the independence and ability to shape one’s own life. EGBOK Mission’s Cambodia Project utilizes the growing hospitality industry as a sustainable means for young adults to lift themselves out of poverty.

The Experience economy: The Demise of the Hotel’s Brand | Rom Hendler | TEDxEilat

“One can only have this hospitality experience by staying at a hotel, not at an apartment next door.”

In the past 20 years fundamental technology developments changed it all. In addition a new generation of customers is defining value for money in a completely different way than ever before, and its consumer behaviour is adopting accordingly. The internet with its e-commerce commoditised most products and now what left is a price war. However experienced based products are gaining momentum and we start seeing them not only in their traditional comfort zone like tourism and entertainment but also in banking, shopping centres, telecommunication just to name few. In this talk we will discuss how those changes specifically impact the hotel franchise industry and how it will impact the future of consumption in general. Rom is an innovator and a leader in the global travel ecosystem. Rom has many years of experience as an executive in the worlds leading hospitality and Hotel brands. Rom is the founder of Innovel, Israel’s Travel Tech platform.

A Hotel is Just a Building | Bashar Wali | TEDxWilmingtonSalon

“We are people first. Hoteliers second.”

Humanity matters more than any material luxuries or perks that you provide your guests. Because we are people first, hoteliers second. If you can connect with your guests, you will always win. A hotel is just a building. It can’t run itself. That’s what Bashar Wali does. As President of Provenance Hotels (which we mentioned in our guide to Portland), he has crafted an assertive growth plan and developed strategic partnerships that have led to marquee collaborations with James Beard Award-winning chefs and alliances with preeminent developers like Woodbine Development Corporation, Bolour and Associates, GB Lodging and Thayer Lodging to expand the company’s national presence and grow its portfolio of owned and managed hotels. Wali artfully balances this active focus on growth with maximizing the financial performance and market prominence of Provenance Hotels’ award-winning lifestyle properties in the Western United States. He is widely recognized for developing playful guest amenities like the company’s industry-leading spiritual menu and for inspiring the company’s partnerships with companies like Sub Pop Records and Salt & Straw. Based on the philosophy that it is personality, passion, sense of humor and sense of drama that differentiates Provenance Hotels from its competitors, Wali has perfected an approach to the art of hospitality that is as successful at creating memorable guest experiences as it is at putting heads in beds.