Black in Time

17th international tourism summit: Networking for success


Special to the Miami Herald

Some people watch things happen while others make things happen. One who engages in the latter is Andy Ingraham. A man with an agenda, he is passionate and focused. Over 20 years ago he organized regional tourism conferences; each attracted less than 100 attendees. Five hundred are expected to register at the 17th Annual International African American Hotel Ownership & Investment/ Multicultural 2013 Summit & Trade Show, July 24-27, at the Marriott Biscayne Bay.

Sponsored by the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers (NABHOOD), the conference has the theme “Networking-Connect for a Lifetime.” Ingraham is the founder, president and chief executive officer.

The four-day summit is designed to educate attendees on becoming hotel owners or investors, share minority investment trends, explore supplier opportunities and how to market minorities, as well as diversity issues affecting the industry.

At the opening session greetings will be given by city of Miami District 5 Commissioner and Southeast/Park West CRA Chair Michelle Spence Jones. She grew up in Miami’s Liberty City.

The opening speaker will be Ken H. Fearn, founder and managing partner, Integrated Capital, and a NABHOOD board member. Fearn’s California-based private equity real estate group website lists ownership in the 130-room Marriott Residence Inn, 399-room full-service Marriott Hotel and 268-room full-service Doubletree Hotel, which includes 61,000 square feet of Class A office space.

Luncheon remarks will be given by U.S. Congresswoman Frederica Smith Wilson, a native of Miami’s Overtown and longtime resident of Liberty City and Miami Gardens. The speaker will be the Honorable Perry G. Christie, prime minister and minister of finance, the Bahamas. District 3 County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson, a native Miamian who also grew up in Liberty City, will present a key to Miami-Dade County to the prime minister.

Networking, committee meetings and panels are designed to provide assistance to those entering the hotel industry. Darien Wright, vice president, corporate and development finance, Marriott International, will moderate the panel on finding investors.

The discussion on selecting a third-party management company to run the day-to-day operations will be led by Darrell S. Gay, partner/attorney, Arent Fax, L.L.P. The ABCs of hotel ownership will be moderated by Mitch Miller, attorney, Miller Law Group, P.C. The ABCs of public/private partnership financing and incentives will be presented by James Carras, president, Carras Community Investment.

Each year college students are encouraged to participate in the workshops, career fair and job expo. For more information go to

Who made all of this happen? Bahamian-born and educated Andy Ingraham’s family owned several businesses. It was their travel business that caught his attention. He studied business administration at West Indies College (Mandeville, Jamaica), Florida International University and Miami Dade College, and he worked with his brother, Philip, in their father’s Miami restaurant, the Bahamian Connection, on Northwest 44th Street.

After their father’s death Andy spent more time following his tourism passion. Traveling throughout the United States and Caribbean, he was concerned about the lack of African Americans in the hotel business. He made his agenda to “increase the number of African Americans developing, managing, operating and owning hotels and increase vendor opportunities and executive level jobs for minorities, thereby creating wealth in the African American community.” He started Horizons Marketing Group International—and the rest in history.

Historically, African Americans owned hotels exclusively in black communities because by law and custom we were not welcome in white hotels. The book, The Negro Traveler’s Inconveniences, by Wendell P. Alston and published in 1949, lists hotels, boarding houses, restaurants, beauty shops, barber shops and various other services owned by African Americans that helped solve travel problems.

From the 1920s to the 1960s in Miami and Dade County there were at least five hotels owned and an equal amount operated by African Americans. The only one standing, the Hampton House in Brownsville, is being rehabilitated.

Thanks to Andy Ingraham and NABHOOD’s summit, the Hampton House and others have many opportunities to network and connect for success.

Dorothy Jenkins Fields, PhD, is a historian and founder of the Black Archives, History and Research Foundation of South Florida Inc. Send feedback to

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