President & CEO, Springboard Hospitality
Ben Rafter leads growth, strategy and hotel revenue generation for Springboard Hospitality. Before joining, he was president and CEO of Aqua Hospitality and president of Aston Hotels & Resorts — the largest hotel operator in the Waikiki market. Previously, Ben grew Aqua Hospitality fivefold in less than four years, from a small Waikiki operator to the only hotel company on all six Hawaii tourism islands. Also while at Aqua, Ben completed more than 20 renovations as well as new, ground-up developments.
He was so confident of the Aqua team’s operational capabilities he placed his personal cell phone number in all of Aqua’s hotel rooms. When the company was sold to Interval Leisure Group (IILG, Aston’s parent), Ben estimated his number was accessible to more than 2 million visitors to Hawaii a year.
Prior to Aqua, he spent more than 15 years guiding successful tech companies. In various roles he created global innovation centers, acted as a principal strategist for G2000 and startup companies, and founded companies of his own. In 1996, he co-founded Innerlinx (LiveBid), which was acquired by Amazon.com. Ben began his career in the distribution department of Westin Hotels & Resorts.