Late last week, CVEP was finally able to announce this year’s Keynote Speaker for The Summit, and we couldn’t be more excited. This year’s Keynote will be Robert Rippee, MBA & Ph.D. Candidate. Rippee is the Director of the Hospitality Innovation Lab and the Director of the eSports Lab at the International Gaming Institute, both located at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV).

Turning Problems into Opportunities

As Director of UNLV’s acclaimed Hospitality Innovation Lab, Rippee guides students with the application of new and emerging technologies to solve real-world problems in the hospitality and gaming industry. He is also UNLV’s primary architect and inspiration for its newly announced Black Fire Innovation Hub, scheduled to open at the Harry Reid Research Park in Fall 2019. In his tenure at UNLV, his courses have produced some of the most innovative ideas ever to address hospitality problems. They have also provided almost two dozen invention disclosures and filed patents on multiple projects. With Rippee as the Keynote Speaker at The Summit, attendees will learn how hospitality innovations can expand an economy while elevating the guest experience.

“Leveraging existing businesses to expand the technology base of the Coachella Valley is vital as we continue to take actions to elevate and transform our economy,” said Joe Wallace, CEO and Chief Innovation Officer of CVEP. “Securing Robert Rippee – a life-long entrepreneur, and now the Director of the Hospitality and eSports Innovation Labs at UNLV – is a significant achievement for our region. Rippee started his hospitality career in Rancho Mirage, and on November 19th he will be teaching us how to take advantage of the coming disruptive innovations and the hospitality industry’s demand for innovative problem-solving.”

Innovation and Industry Experience

Rippee is the former Senior Vice president of Marketing for Las Vegas Sands Corporation. He brings more than 25 years of innovation experience in hospitality and gaming along with a robust network of advisors and mentors across venture capital, big tech, big hospitality, and gaming. He also serves as a board advisor and consultant to several technology startup companies.

Rippee is a Doctoral Candidate at UNLV researching consumer behavior and human learning. He holds an MBA from the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business and an undergraduate degree in Finance from The University of Wyoming. Robert also is the co-inventor of innovative and disruptive technology in the consumer wine sector, with eleven patents pending on the technology. He is also a decorated veteran, having served as a pilot in the United States Navy.

The Summit is the premier business event of the year, drawing more than 800 of the region’s business, civic, and education leaders. It’s an excellent and rare opportunity to network with the area’s leaders, influencers, and decision-makers.

Tickets and sponsorship opportunities are available for The Summit on November 19 at the Palm Springs Convention Center. The Summit is produced by the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership (CVEP) and presented by Desert Care Network. Individual tickets are $110, tables of 10 are $950. Register at For sponsorship information, contact CVEP at 760-340-1575.