President & CEO
Gateway Hospitality Group
Lectured April 2, 2009Introduced to the industry through his family's 250-seat restaurant, Robert F. Voelker has built an impressive career in hotel management and financing since graduating with honors from the Culinary Institute of America in 1969 and Conrad N. Hilton College in 1973. With a hotel career that spans more than four decades, including an extensive background in food & beverage, Bob now serves as president and CEO of the Gateway Hospitality Group, based in Cleveland, Ohio.
Since 1997, Bob has overseen the development, construction and opening of 15 hotels for Gateway. He also provides technical services during construction and pre-construction, as well as furniture, fixture and equipment procurement. He has initiated capital fundraising (more than $35 million) through limited partnership offerings, and he oversees all hotel operations. His hands-on approach to hotel management ensures that his properties achieve projected financial results, high quality ratings and top guest satisfaction scores.
His résumé is as vast as it is impressive. His tenure with Renaissance/Stouffer Hotels & Resorts from 1980 to 1997 includes such positions as senior vice president for Eastern operations, where he managed 18 hotels representing more than $500 million in sales and $150 million in gross operating profit; senior vice president of the Central Region Americas, where he managed 11 hotels representing three brands with sales of $300 million and successfully achieved 100 percent of budgeted gross operating revenue in three consecutive years; and vice president and general manager of the Stouffer Renaissance Cleveland Hotel, where he master planned and directed the repositioning and $37 million renovation of this 500-room downtown convention hotel, making it the premier hotel in Cleveland.
In the '70s, Bob worked for Hilton Hotels Corporation as food & beverage director for a number of properties, including the Fontainebleau Hilton in Miami, the Atlanta Hilton, the Shamrock Hilton in Houston and the Palmer House in Chicago. While a student at Hilton College, Bob worked at the front desk of the Hyatt Regency and held foodservice positions with ARA Services (now ARAMARK) at two Houston landmarks of a bygone era—the Astrodome and AstroWorld theme park.
Following his tenure with Stouffer, he established RSV Hospitality Enterprises in Twinsburg, Ohio, where he developed a 65-acre site that includes five restaurants and 100,000 square feet of Class A office space. He then began a franchise with Hilton Hotels and became owner and general manager of the Hilton Garden Inn–Twinsburg. His success in developing and managing this property led Hilton and other developers to use his hotel as a prototype for future focused-service properties with conference space.
Among Bob's numerous awards are the first Nick Hilton Scholarship and two President's Awards for Excellence and Outstanding Achievement (the first two-time recipient in Stouffer corporate history). He received the Hotelier of the Year Award from the Ohio Hotel & Motel Association in 1992 and, that same year, was inducted into the Lodging and Hospitality Industry Hall of Fame by the same organization for exemplary leadership. In 1996, Bob received the Founding Dean's Award from Hilton College.
Currently, he serves on the Hilton Garden Inn Advisory Council.