Dear Feiertag Hospitality and Tourism Management students, alumni and friends,
With heavy hearts we are sharing with you the sad news: Howard Feiertag, namesake of our program, HTM industry giant, long-serving faculty member, and a kind, generous, charming human being, passed away on March 3, 2023 at the age of 94.
Howard amassed over thirty years of experience in virtually every area of the industry including hotel operations, food and beverage, sales and marketing, and meetings and convention management. He led hundreds of extremely popular professional development sessions at major hospitality and tourism conferences. In 1989, it was at one of these sessions that he was “discovered” by then-HRIM department head Mike Olsen, who convinced him to move to the small town of Blacksburg and become a university instructor. Howard often joked that he agreed to try it for five years and never dreamed he would go on to teach for more than thirty!
Howard was the lead instructor for Hospitality Sales and Meetings and Conventions Management at Virginia Tech. He was loved by thousands of former students who have gone on to become successful industry professionals and leaders. Any of those students would no doubt be able to share classic anecdotes of Howard’s like “The Starfish”; they can recall his habit of playing music of a variety of genres at the start of class, and insisting on an energetic “Good Morning Howard!” in response to his “Good morning students!”
Student and colleagues alike know his stories about growing up as one of ten children in a humble but loving home in Brooklyn. As a young teenager working at a hot dog stand, Howard never imagined college as a possibility. After serving in the military and the Korean War, he credits the GI Bill and supportive mentors as crucial to his success. Teaching and encouraging young people at the college level exceeded his wildest dreams, and never missed an opportunity to be a mentor himself.
In addition to an industry and teaching career, Howard was an avid writer. Starting in 1980 he was a columnist for several trade magazines including Hotel Management. In 2001, he co-authored his first book Lessons from the Field: A Common-Sense Approach to Effective Hotel Sales. For three decades he ran a personal blog called Howardsez where he shared his insights and wisdom in hospitality sales. In 2020, he compiled many of his writings into a second book entitled Hospitality Sales and Marketing: An Evolutionary Journey with Howard Feiertag.
In 2019, as a result of Howard’s generous donation, an endowment was created that named the department, provided a professorship, and launched the Feiertag Academy to Industry Library Collection, which provides a conduit between academic research and the hospitality and tourism industries by creating accessible, applied summaries of current cutting edge research. The collection includes information ranging from both academic and trade publications to audio files and blog posts and has attracted online visits from around the world.
During his career, Howard was the recipient of numerous accolades as evidenced by his office walls full of awards. They included Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International’s Hall of Fame Award, HSMAI Lifetime Award, and the 2001 Arthur Landstreet Award from the Educational Institute of the American Hotel & Lodging Association. In 2004 he received the Award for Excellence in Outreach from the University.
However, if you were to ask what he was most proud of, he would likely say teaching and mentoring students. Howard dedicated much of his career to hospitality education, both inside and outside the classroom. He once said in an interview with the Events Industry Council, “I would like to be remembered for contributing to other people’s lives, helping to make them successful, helping them to have the joy of living.” Rest in peace Howard, you will certainly be remembered for doing just that!
May each of you take a moment to remember how Howard impacted your life and think about how you can pay it forward. We think he would like that very much.
Faculty & Staff
The Howard Feiertag Department of Hospitality & Tourism Management