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November 2012

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Hall of Honor 2012
Hospitality Hall of Honor Inducts Two, Inspires Many
On Oct. 24, Hilton College students once again had the chance to rub elbows with hospitality-industry leaders at the 17th annual Hospitality Industry Hall of Honor induction ceremony and dinner at the Hilton University of Houston. Extended-stay hotel pioneer Jack DeBoer (pictured far left) and the Mariani family of Banfi Vintners were this year's honorees. The Hospitality Hall of Honor, which is housed at Hilton College, was created in 1995 to recognize the contributions of some of the industry's most influential figures. A team of student leaders planned and executed the 2012 event—everything from the induction ceremony and dinner itself, to the reception and VIP dinner preceding the main event, to the two days of industry Think Tank sessions held at the College. The Think Tank topics were chosen in part from students' suggestions and included sessions on luxury marketing—which featured inductee James Mariani (pictured far right) as a panelist—food trucks, vineyard management, organic foods, Texas craft brews, tourism, club management and hospitality finance. Each session was moderated by a Hilton College faculty or staff member and featured a panel of experts, giving students the chance to learn firsthand from professionals in very specific areas of the hospitality industry. Congratulations to these deserving inductees and to the 2012 Hall of Honor student leadership team on a job well done! (Photos: Taylor Wiley)
Secret Spa Shopper
Your Homework, Should You Choose to Accept It ...
At Hilton College, we're all about experiential learning, and our students are willing to go above and beyond to educate themselves on the ins and outs of the hospitality industry. Recently, for Su Gibson's Introduction to Spa Management class, that meant going out and getting free massages. Feel sorry for them yet? We don't either. The luxurious learning experience was part of a secret-shopper "quality control audit" for a massage company, which has franchise businesses all over the Greater Houston area. The students' mission was simple: book their appointments, get massages and then fill out a lengthy online form about their experiences. They were looking at everything from the ambiance of the location, to the professionalism of the front-of-house staff, to the quality of the massage itself. The regional director of the massage company came to speak to the class about the project, explaining that the data they collected would be used to ensure the brand standards were being upheld at all of the franchise locations. Gibson also used the surveys as part of her ongoing research into customer satisfaction at spas. Needless to say, there weren't any complaints about this assignment. (Photo illustration: Su Gibson & Taylor Wiley)  
Ricki Oberoi Eric's Club
Welcome to the Club, Ricki!
"Eric's Club" is proud to welcome their newest member—Ricki R. Oberoi ('86)—to the Eric Hilton Distinguished Alumni Club. Ricki is the president of Oberoi Holdings, Inc., a company that owns multiple Houston-area Wendy's restaurants. After graduating with a BS in Hotel and Restaurant Management from Hilton College, Ricki entered the management training program at Taco Bell, and later joined his parents in opening Shiva Indian Restaurant, a popular and successful eatery and catering business. But it was after he acquired his first Wendy's franchise in 1996 that Ricki found his true passion. Now, he owns seven area Wendy's restaurants, with plans for two more locations to open in 2013. On Nov. 8, Ricki returned to Hilton College as the featured speaker for the 23rd Annual Eric Hilton Distinguished Chair Alumni Lecture Series. The lecture series was established in 1999 by Dr. Clinton L. Rappole, former Eric Hilton Distinguished Chair and Professor Emeritus, with the goal of bringing accomplished alumni back into the classroom to discuss their career paths with students. After his lecture, Ricki (pictured sitting center) was presented with an Eric's Club chair by fellow members of Eric's Club. Pictured standing left to right are: Dr. Clinton Rappole, Al Gallo ('82), Steve Goodman ('83), Nick Massad ('73), Dorothy Nicholson ('77), Marty Breverman ('74), Gregg Rockett ('86), Alphy Johnson ('76), Dave Smalley ('79), Jonathan Shear ('80) and Bob Planck ('71). Congrats, Ricki, and welcome to the club! (Photo: Michael Scott)  
Sugar Land Wine and Food Affair

Uncorking the Possibilities
Hilton College students are getting involved in the Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair in a big way. While students have volunteered at the event for years, the 2013 festival will—for the first time—feature a team of student managers, similar to the successful Gourmet Night and Hospitality Industry Hall of Honor models. The inaugural leadership team consists of eight students, working under staff mentor Krystal Peay ('10), director of the Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair, and alongside the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce. Pictured left to right, the event team members are: Krystal Peay, Samantha Dignazio, Jasmine Dennis, Krishana Thomas, Rachel Sandage, Stephanie Truett, Mike Evans, Tracey Watson and Dave Gomez. The 2013 Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary, will take place April 24-28 and will feature award-winning chefs, delicious food and wine, live music and entertainment, seminars and much, much more. More than 7,000 people are expected to attend, and more than 100 student volunteers from Hilton College will help staff the event—pouring wine, serving food and helping with general logistics. For more information on the Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair, click here. (Photo: Taylor Wiley)  


First-Time CMAA Hosts Make Lasting Impressions
Hilton College hosted its first-ever Food & Beverage Management Program for the Club Managers Association of America (CMAA) this month. As part of the CCM training and certification process, club managers from all over the world gathered at the Hilton University of Houston for the five-day program, which featured traditional classroom lectures, hands-on learning experiences and several trips to local Houston clubs and attractions. It was the first time Hilton College has ever hosted the event, which had been held at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, for the past 15 years. Student members of the CMAA-Cougar Chapter were right in the middle of the action, preparing dining and entertainment guides and amenity baskets for the visiting managers. CMAA students also hosted a bowling social—which was a great networking opportunity for students and managers alike—and a buffet-style lunch at Barron's for their guests. The club managers, in return, collected $1,000 in cash for the CMAA-Cougar Chapter, to be used for educational purposes. Lecturer and faculty advisor for CMAA Alexis Hoey took on the mammoth task of coordinating the entire event, and other Hilton College faculty—including Dr. Jay Neal, Dr. Mary Dawson, Dr. Juan Madera and Dr. Stephen Barth—also got involved, delivering lectures on topics like diversity, sanitation and safety, menu engineering and general legal compliance in menus, to name a few. In all, the program was deemed a great success, and the CMAA will be returning for round two in 2013. Kudos to the faculty and students involved in organizing and executing this landmark event at Hilton College! (Photo: Taylor Wiley)  

AHLA Scholarship

And the Scholarship Winners Are ...
Four Hilton College students received scholarships this year from the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Foundation, an arm of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) dedicated to helping students further their studies in hospitality. As timing would have it, Joe McInerney, president & CEO of AH&LA, was in Houston for the Hospitality Industry Hall of Honor and relished the opportunity to pose for a picture with the scholarship recipients. Pictured left to right are: 2012 scholarship recipients Mary Sheffel and Eugenia Gonzalez, Joe McInerney, and recipients Liliana Grimes and Dennis Le. The scholarships, which are open to students across the country, range from $500 to $5,000 and can be self- or school-nominated. AH&LA, an organization that's represented the lodging industry for more than a century and has been a great friend and supporter of Hilton College, is based in Washington, D.C. The AH&LA Information Center, a full-service research center established to help members with industry-related questions, has been housed at Hilton College for the past 12 years. Congratulations to Mary, Eugenia, Liliana and Dennis on these special industry scholarships! (Photo: Taylor Wiley)