Winter 2014 Quill & Scroll Cover Story
Be Our Guest!
By Joseph S. Rosenberg, Xi Alpha ’96
“Be our guest” is the title of a song from a popular Walt Disney movie, but the lyrics represent an industry that is one of the top 10 industries in the nation — the travel and hospitality industry. One out of every eight jobs in the United States depends on travel and tourism, generating two trillion dollars in economic output for the economy and supporting more than 14 million jobs. All of this accounts for more than two percent of the national gross domestic product. The alumni spotlight for this issue focuses on four Brothers who are industry leaders — Richard Adie, Beta ’75; Stephen Holmes, Iota ’79; Don Meador, Mu Alpha ’84; and Matthew Hittleman, Xi Alpha ’98.
Richard Adie, Beta ’75
Brother Adie joined the Beta Chapter at Cornell University during the 1972 fall semester. When Rick was looking at campus organizations he thought the KDR Brothers were an ideal fit. He liked the diversity of the chapter and the opportunity to get to know more Cornell students who were not in the hotel program.
As an undergraduate KDR, Rick served as worthy consul. He believes that his best leadership experiences, before starting in the hotel industry, originated during this time at the chapter, preparing him for life after college. According to Rick, there can be a tendency to underestimate the leadership education that occurs with a person’s experiences within the fraternal community. One of the most important lessons Rick learned from serving as worthy consul was reaching out for assistance, especially from local alumni who were invaluable and supportive. Learning when to call for help, and not hesitating to do so, was a lesson that has served him throughout his career in the hotel industry.
Rick has served as general manager of The Statler Hotel at Cornell University since 2002. Daily, he oversees the operations of a 153-room hotel, which has become the market leader in occupancy and in the quality of service and facilities. The hotel complex comprises three dining facilities, extensive banquet rooms, and the J. W. Marriott Executive Education Center, including a state-of-the-art, 90-seat amphitheater. The Statler serves the School of Hotel Administration in a variety of ways, from housing the 250 annual industry leaders who lecture at the school to serving as the “learning laboratory” for undergraduates studying hotel operations. Two hundred students work part time in the hotel, gaining practical experience and participating in the Statler Leadership Development Program.
After graduation in 1975, Rick joined Hyatt Hotels. His early management assignments were in Chicago, Illinois; Washington, D.C.; Hilton Head, South Carolina; and Los Angeles, California. At the age of 29, he was appointed opening general manager at the second Hyatt hotel in Houston. From there he opened the 450-room Hyatt Regency at the Denver Tech Center and the 800-room Hyatt Regency at the San Francisco Airport. In early 1990, he became general manager of largest Hyatt hotel, the 2,000-room Hyatt Regency Chicago. He later served as general manager of the Hyatt Regency Crown Center in Kansas City. Among other honors, he was recognized as the Hyatt General Manager of the Year.
Throughout his career, Rick has shown a deep commitment to community service. In Kansas City, he chaired the annual Kansas City Day where on the opening day of Royals baseball, 1,700 volunteers sold a special edition of the Kansas City Star to benefit local children’s charities. Nearly $1 million was raised during his tenure. Brother Adie served as president of the Greater Kansas City Hotel Association and was later named Hotelier of the Year. He also served as chairman of the Greater Kansas City Convention and Visitors Bureau, spearheading the civic effort to expand the city convention center. In Ithaca, NewYork, Rick is a member of the Strategic Tourism and Planning Board for the Tompkins County Legislature and also serves on the advisory board of the hospitality program at Tompkins-Cortland Community College.
Stephen Holmes, Iota ’79
In the spring of 1976, the Iota Chapter at Bucknell University welcomed Brother Holmes into the Fraternity. Currently, he is chairman and chief executive officer of Wyndham Worldwide, one of the largest hospitality companies in the world with operations in nearly 100 countries. FORTUNE magazine recently ranked Wyndham as the most admired company in the hospitality industry.
Before the formation of Wyndham Worldwide in 2006, Stephen was vice chairman and a member of the Board of Directors of Cendant Corporation, where he oversaw hotel franchise, vehicle rental, timeshare development, timeshare exchange, and vacation rental businesses. Earlier in his career, he also served as executive vice president and chief financial officer of HFS Inc. and managing director of The Blackstone Group.
In addition to his position at Wyndham Worldwide, Stephen serves as a vice chairman of the World Travel and Tourism Council and the Travel Business Roundtable. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees of Bucknell University, and was honored as the 2007 Hall of Leaders inductee by the U.S. Travel Association.
Don Meador, Mu Alpha ’84
Brother Meador joined the Mu Alpha Chapter at West Virginia University in the spring of 1983. Today, he is the vice president of sales and marketing for the Landmark Hotel Group, overseeing the sales and strategic marketing activities for the portfolio of company hotels. Don is responsible for increasing market share by supervising the development and implementation of marketing plans for each hotel.
Brother Meador began his marketing career in the radio industry where he held leadership positions with several prominent radios stations in the mid-Atlantic region. After serving as radio music, program, and production director, Don entered the hospitality industry in 1998 as corporate sales manager for the Holiday Inn Resort in Virginia Beach, Virginia. In 1999, he joined the Landmark Hotel Group as director of sales for the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Virginia Beach where he assembled and led an award-winning sales team during his seven-year tenure.
According to Don, one of the biggest challenges facing people in the hospitality industry is that the business never closes. “Sometimes a person’s day can run long,” he explains.
“Smartphones, e-mail, and social networks have made it easier to respond more quickly to clients and associates, but with so many ways for information to reach you, it’s sometimes difficult to unplug and just stop working. In the hospitality industry the biggest challenge is to be disciplined and protective about your time because it can take a while to unwind after a particularly long day or workweek.”
As an undergraduate, Don wanted to be associated with a group of friends that would not change with his course schedule each semester. He was invited to recruitment events by men he met in his classes, including an associate member at Kappa Delta Rho. “The Mu Alpha Chapter Brothers made the difference for me! I witnessed how they interacted with each other, how welcoming they were to new faces, how energized and driven they were to grow the chapter at West Virginia University, and I wanted to be a part of that energy,” he points out. Don, therefore, became a member of the Mu Alpha second pledge class, and he felt honored to have been initiated by some of the men who had started it all.
Life at the chapter was filled with many memorable moments, but the most unforgettable one for Don was when the West Virginia University college radio station sponsored an “air band” competition on the plaza at the student union. He saw a new side of the Mu Alpha Brothers, where they delivered a rousing “air performance” that made him extremely proud. Whether they brought home the trophy or not, he cannot recall, but he remembers thinking that they deserved to win.
His most cherished memory, of course, was being elected consul in his senior year. According to Don, it was during his time as consul he learned some important leadership lessons that carried over to his professional career. As chapter president, he learned to trust his Brothers and to delegate responsibilities. He learned the importance of empowering people by providing Brothers with the opportunity to step up and deliver. As a result, he and his Brothers developed the future chapter leadership.
During the interview I asked Don to give me the most important piece of advice for undergraduate Brothers today. His response was very simple — “Use your network of Brothers in Kappa Delta Rho. It is much easier to make and maintain your KDR relationships and contacts than when I was an undergraduate. I know when I encounter KDRs in the world, there’s a part of me that wants to do what I can to help them on their path to becoming successful men. You will learn a lot in college, including new ways to think, but sometimes what can make all the difference for you is who you know.”
Today, Don represents the Landmark Hotel Group in various associations, including the American Bus Association, National Tour Association, Student and Youth Travel Association, and the Virginia Motorcoach Association. Additionally, he serves on the Board of Directors of the Virginia Beach Lynnhaven Business Association and Town Center Alliance, Advertising Advisory Committee and Convention Center Hotels Committee for the City of Virginia Beach, and the Tour and Travel Committee for the Virginia Beach Hotel Motel Association.
Matthew Hittleman, Xi Alpha ’98
Brother Hittleman, who currently is the general manager of the Clift Hotel in San Francisco, California, joined the Xi Alpha Chapter at Temple University in the fall of 1994. The Clift Hotel is one of the many boutique hotels within Morgans Hotel Group that began in 1984. The company started the concept of the boutique hotel when it opened the Morgans Hotel in NewYork City. In 2004, Matt started out as the front desk manager at the Delano Hotel in Miami, Florida, and worked his way up within Morgans, rising quickly within the Delano management. He was promoted to front office manager at the Clift in 2007 and became general manager in 2011. Matt’s hard work and dedication to keeping the guest as his core focus has allowed him to rise through the ranks of Morgans.
According to Matt, he decided to join the Xi Alpha Chapter because it was a laid-back bunch of men. “The Brothers were not very pushy, and at the time,” he recalls, “they offered a different kind of experience than what was offered by the other organizations on campus.” Some of his fondest memories of the chapter center around the Alpha Epsilon Phi Sorority on campus. The chapters held to tradition by pulling pranks on each other throughout the year. The funniest was when the Brothers borrowed the Alpha Epsilon Phi flag and took it to reside on the third floor of the chapter house. “When the sisters came to storm the house and retrieve their flag, we dumped several buckets of very cold water on them from the third floor window.”
As Matt reflected on his experiences as an undergraduate KDR, he believes there were two important leadership lessons that helped his professional career. “The first lesson,” he explains, “is to never take things personal and the second is to be persistent in your endeavors.” Matt offers this piece of advice for current undergraduates: “The resume may get you an interview, but it is the ‘Namaste,’ the light within, that organizations are looking for in their employees. The ability to go above and beyond to forge lasting memories and emotional connections is what sets a good applicant apart from everyone else.”
Brothers Adie, Holmes, Meador, and Hittleman are testimonies to Kappa Delta Rho’s banner flying high within the travel and hospitality industry. These Brothers exemplify the last line of our Credo . . . They shall add new lustre to my name.
For the spring/summer issue of the Quill & Scroll, we plan to spotlight alumni who have served, or are serving, in the Armed Forces. If you know of an alumni Brother who would be ideal to interview for the article, forward a brief biography and his contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can download an electronic copy of the Winter 2014 Quill & Scroll that includes all our feature stories by visiting our Quill & Scroll Archives.