Hospitality and Tourism Management Gala in Metro Washington, D.C., to Honor Howard Feiertag

Originally published in Virginia Tech News November 2017

Howard Feiertag chats with other guests at an Ut Prosim Society dinner in March.    

Hospitality and tourism management instructor Howard Feiertag joined Virginia Tech in 1989. He had been recruited to his new job from Servico, a hotel management company in West Palm Beach, Florida, where he had been a senior vice president for operations.

It was only going to be for a few years, he thought, of his teaching job at Virginia Tech. That was more than 28 years ago.

“This year, Howard is 89 years young. He gets up every day, works out, and comes to work in his cashmere jackets and with his positive attitude,” says Nancy Gard McGehee, head of the highly ranked Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management in the Pamplin College of Business.

On Nov. 2, Feiertag will be honored for his lifetime contributions to hospitality education and practice, at a gala in metro Washington D.C., where 200 alumni, students, faculty, and hospitality industry leaders are expected to gather.

Roger Dow, CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, will serve as emcee of the event at the Hilton McLean Tysons Corner, which will also recognize student scholarship award winners.

The department is ranked No. 2 in the nation and No. 6 worldwide. It recently relocated its master’s program to Virginia Tech’s Northern Virginia Center in Falls Church, where McGehee says it is experiencing considerable success. “It’s only our second year in D.C., and we have more than 30 students from nearly every continent in the world,” she says.

“In many ways, Howard is the embodiment of our program — a business focus, attitude of hospitality and service, and excellence in everything we do,” says McGehee. “He has had an impact on thousands of folks in the business and continues to influence and mentor students.”

Feiertag, who holds certifications as a meeting professional, hospitality marketing executive, and hotel administrator, teaches meetings and sales courses.

His numerous honors include Fellow of the Institute of Certified Travel Agents, Exhibit Industry Council Hall of Fame member, Lifetime Achievement Award of the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International, Virginia Society of Association Executive Career Services Award, Fellow of the American Hotel and Motel Association’s Educational Institute, and Virginia Tech’s Outreach Award.

Feiertag has been writing a monthly column for Hotel Management magazine for more than 30 years and is co-author of “Lessons from the Field — A Common Sense Approach to Effective Hotel Sales.”  

Feiertag earned a bachelor’s degree at Michigan State University. 

National Honors and Awards

Originally published in Virginia Tech Business Magazine of the Pamplin College of Business Fall 2015

Howard Feiertag, an instructor of hospitality and tourism management, was a recipient of one of the Top 30 CMP Influencers Award, sponsored by the Convention Industry Council, which administers the Certified Meeting Professional program.  The award marks the 30th anniversary of the program.  Feiertag has been a Virginia Tech faculty member since 1989.  He teaches Hospitality Sales and Meetings and Convention Management.

SMERF Business Ideal to Help Fill Weekend Room Nights

Originally published in H&MM July 19, 2004

Too little has been known about the SMERF meetings market when it comes to how much it spends, revenue generated, destination preferences and particularly how to go after it. If you could use some weekend business, then this could be the market to seek.

The acronym SMERF stands for social, military, education, religious and fraternal (and you could even throw in another “S” at the end for sports).

Earlier this year, Prime Media’s business marketing research department conducted a survey among readers of its Association Management publication who identified themselves as working for SMERF-type organizations, Prime Media is the publisher of five meetings-type trade magazines. The results of the study were very interesting and reflect some good information for hotel sales staffs who might want to take a look at this market to fill holes in room blocks over off-season and weekends.

The figures for 2003 were very encouraging and forecasts for 2004 and 2005 were very positive: attendance for 2003 increased 30 percent, and revenue for 2003 increased 39 percent. The majority of respondents, 70 percent, indicated that typical attendance was less than 500, 43 percent indicated an annual budget of less than $100,000, and 50 percent reflected that room nights for their largest event were less than 500. Thirty-two percent plan one to three off-site meetings a year, and 27 percent plan up to 10 off-site meetings a year.

When it comes to domestic cities respondents thought best served their meetings, top choices were Orlando, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, San Diego and New Orleans. The most popular second-tier cities were St. Louis, Nashville, Phoenix and Louisville, KY. More than half of the respondents indicated their largest event would see increases this year over 2003, with increases in meeting revenues and expenditures.

We used to think about SMERF groups as a market niche for downtown hotels, campgrounds and arenas. Now they use convention centers, conference centers, university facilities, suburban hotels, downtown hotels and resorts. A little less than half of the respondents indicated that their annual event includes an exposition, which means that some exhibit space would be necessary for their meeting.

As expected, one of the biggest challenges facing SMERF planners in the coming years is attrition. Most respondents said they expect big trouble in this area because too many members will be booking outside the contracted block of rooms by seeking Internet locations for making reservations at lower room rates. Some other issues raised were not getting enough meeting space without using a large block of rooms; surcharges; affordable audiovisual charges; getting government rates; and acceptance of groups that are not highly marketable (like students).

Of course, the study respondents were all planners who, for the most part, were full-time association employees. In this market segment, we are more likely to find most of the planners working part-time or even volunteers who are very difficult to locate. When it comes to the purely social market, military reunions and fraternal, we are seeking some very elusive, hard-to-locate planners. Seeking local contacts that are affiliated with these types of groups is critical. Local networking is vital to get to identify SMERF groups and their planners.

Sales, Marketing Plans Help Hotels Reach Yearly Goals

Originally published in H&MM October 3, 2005

If you have not started on your marketing plan for next year, now is the time to do it. One of the things to consider including is a sales plan for the marketing plan. This is a document that deals with the strategies that are outlined with a plan of action for the sales department team, with details of who will do what and when. This should end up being a guideline of activities to ensure the sales activity for developing business for next year will be most productive in going after the best business possible.

All the very positive figures coming out lately indicate an excellent 2006 in our industry, so we should be in a very good position to go after business that would generate the best bottom line for our properties. Generally, bringing in group business with the highest aver- age room rates is what creates the best profit. With this in mind, the sales plan research should start with coming up with a listing of market segments that bring in the best dollar room revenue. Here is how you do it:

Take a look at all of this year’s group market segments and list them in order of highest to lowest average room rate for each segment. Your accounting department should have these figures on a year-to-date basis.

We then want to find out what percentage of total room business is represented by each market segment. To get this figure, all you need is to get the total property room sales dollar amount on a year-to- date basis and divide it by the total room sales revenue for each group segment. For ex- ample: If your total room sales amount for the year was $1 million and your corporate market segment generated $100,000 in room sales, then that market segment represents 10 percent of your total business. If your motor coach tour business market brought in $50,000 in room sales, then that market segment represented 5 percent of your total room revenue.

Follow this process for each group market segment, and make a listing reflecting the group markets, with the segment averaging the highest room rate on top. The chances are the segment having the highest room rate average will be producing the lowest percentage of total room revenue generated for the property.

As you look down the listing of segments, you should get an idea in which markets you want to increase the percentage of total business. From this, you can come up with a sales objective reflecting a percentage of business increase in certain market segments.

Be sure to reflect a dollar amount based on the percent- age of increase you are projecting for next year. For example, if in a particular market segment you are doing 10 percent of total revenue, which amounts to $100,000, and you have an objective of increasing it by 10 percent, then use the dollar amount of $10,000 as your objective.

The next step is to come up with a sales action plan listing the things that are expected to be accomplished to meet the goal. This would include the action steps: who will do what, when the action will start, when it is expected to be completed and what it will cost.
You want to be sure the total cost of all the steps to the action plan do not exceed an amount that would be unreasonable in achieving your goal. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 percent to 20 percent is reasonable.

For a sample sales action plan format and listing of group market segment definitions, visit the Forms & Tip Sheets page on my blog,