|Chris Nassetta to Be Inducted Into the Hospitality Hall of Honor
As president and CEO of Hilton Worldwide, Christopher J. Nassetta has made a lasting and profound impact on the hospitality industry and one of the world’s most recognizable hotel brands. On October 21, 2015, his contributions will be celebrated as he becomes the 67th inductee of the Hospitality Industry Hall of Honor, taking his place among other notable hotel icons, including Conrad, Barron and Eric Hilton; J. W. Marriott; Isadore Sharp; and Ellsworth Statler. It will be a special night for the College—not only because it’s the 20th anniversary of this important industry event—but also because it will feature the opening of an exhibit of the Hospitality Industry Archives commemorating the Hilton legacy and its nearly century-long influence on the industry. Nassetta continues the Hilton family legacy, and we are proud to recognize his extraordinary achievements and leadership. As it has been since 2006, the Hall of Honor reception, ceremony and dinner will be planned and executed by a team of student managers and volunteers. Led by student General Manager WeiSyn Tan and faculty advisor Alexis Hoey, the students will also host a series of Think Tanks featuring industry panelists—including one with Nassetta—so the entire student body can learn from and network with professionals from all sectors of hospitality. Proceeds from this year’s event will support Hilton College’s Hospitality Without Borders Endowment, a new endowment dedicated to providing life-changing opportunities for the future leaders of the industry.
|Highest UH Staff Honor Awarded to College Development Chief
Jon C. Schultz, assistant dean for business development, is absolutely invaluable to Hilton College. He’s served as the chief development officer since 2004, during which time he’s raised in excess of $40 million. He has also directly supported the development of programs that significantly elevated the visibility and stature of the College, including the $14.5-million renovation of the Hilton University of Houston, the creation of the Massad Family Library Research Center, the renovation of the Hospitality Industry Archives, the establishment of the Conrad N. Hilton College–San Antonio and the creation of the Spec’s Beverage & Food Appreciation Laboratory. So it’s only fitting that, after all those years of service and outstanding contributions, Schultz was recognized with the 2015 Charles F. McElhinney Distinguished Service Award—the highest honor for staff members at the University of Houston. The McElhinney Award is given annually to a former Staff Excellence Award winner who has contributed in significant and measurable ways to the achievement of the overall goals and objectives of his or her department at UH. It goes without saying that Schultz is the ideal recipient. At the age of 72—and in spite of being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease—Schultz is a tireless advocate, supporter and fundraiser for the College. He frequently puts in 10- to 11-hour days and doesn’t show any sign of slowing down. “I enjoy what I am doing, so I really don’t regard this as work,” Schultz said. “As long as I am able to stay ahead of the youngsters and still make a difference, then I guess I’ll be around for a while.” We certainly hope so—the College wouldn’t be the same without him. Congratulations, Jon! Well deserved! (Photo: Taylor Wiley)
|Alumni Spotlight: Golden Opportunity at the Golden Nugget
Daniel Lofton (’11) is a business-minded problem solver. So when he decided to pursue a career, the lodging industry—and specifically revenue management—was a perfect fit. Lofton is currently the revenue manager at the Golden Nugget Lake Charles, a massive, 739-room hotel and casino managed by Landry’s Inc. that opened in December of 2014. In that role, he’s the money man, leading a revenue team that works diligently to insure maximum profitability. It’s a big responsibility, but one Lofton was well prepared for. In fact, he’s been working his way up the ladder with Landry’s since he was a student at Hilton College. He started at the Inn at the Ballpark, where he was first introduced to revenue management. After a brief stint at the Westin Houston Downtown, he made the move to Lake Charles in April 2014 to take on his current role at the Golden Nugget. Needless to say, the property has done well—it's been booked to capacity since the start of the summer. “Landry’s, and the Golden Nugget specifically, is the perfect fit for me because they encourage development. I’m allowed to wear as many hats as I want. My job is more than just numbers and analytics; there’s a big component of guest interaction as well,” said Lofton, who also oversees the front desk at the property. Long-term, Lofton said he’d like to be a regional revenue manager and direct a few properties. But for now, he’s got plenty of room to grow at the Golden Nugget. His advice for someone wanting to pursue a similar career path? “Find a mentor—someone who cares about your career and is interested in teaching you. And develop your leadership skills. Learn how to handle yourself in professional situations. In this business, decorum is extremely important,” he said. Excellent advice from another successful young alum. You make the HC proud, Daniel! (Photo: Taylor Wiley)
|Love of Wine Pairs Two Perfect Partners
When it comes to tasting and learning about wine, there’s no better venue than the Spec’s Beverage & Food Appreciation Laboratory. The Houston Chapter of the International Wine & Food Society (IWFS) found that out firsthand on July 23 at a special wine tasting and dinner hosted by the College and Dr. Chris Taylor. Dean Dennis Reynolds was also on hand to welcome the group. Thirty-five IWFS members participated in the event, which featured a blind tasting of three Bordeaux wines from the College’s Fred Parks Collection and an additional tasting of three wines provided by the IWFS. Dr. Taylor delivered a special lecture on “the science—or lack thereof—of wine tasting,” and then the group enjoyed a three-course meal in Eric’s Restaurant specially designed for the event by Executive Chef Mark Riley. Though this is the first time the IWFS and Hilton College have held an event together, we have some friends in common: Fred Parks and John Rydman—both generous donors to the College—each served as president of the IWFS. Thanks to Dr. Taylor and Chef Riley for working on this event, and we look forward to building on our new relationship with this prestigious wine organization! If you are interested in hosting a wine tasting in our beautiful, state-of-the-art beverage lab, contact Dr. Taylor. (Photo: Taylor Wiley)