Howard Feiertag

What more can be said about a man who has accomplished so much during his six decades in the hospitality and tourism management industry? Not much – which is why you let him do the talking.

That is the idea behind the forthcoming book “Hospitality Sales and Marketing Through a Period of Evolutions” by Howard Feiertag, namesake of the Howard Feiertag Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Virginia Tech. The book will feature a collection of the best “Sales Clinic” columns written by Feiertag over a 35-year period.

“I noticed that, at the time, none of the trade magazines ever had any information about sales in them,” Feiertag explains. “After contacting the then-editor of Hotel & Motel Management magazine, I began writing these columns for them in 1980.”

Though the magazine changed hands and names over the years, Feiertag and his column remained. From January 1980 through December 2015, he never missed an issue, totaling over 700 columns.

“I kept copies of everything,” Feiertag says regarding his columns. “I don’t know why – I just did. First on carbon copy tear sheets, then on the computer.”

The book will take readers through the evolution of hospitality sales, beginning in the days before digitization when typewriters were a must for correspondence.

“I re-read my first article and laughed,” he says. “My advice for hiring a competent sales person – make sure they have access to a car and can type. Still good advice.”

The book will be Feiertag’s second, as he co-authored with John Hogan the publication “Lessons from the Field … A Common-Sense Approach to Effective Hotel Sales” in 2001.

In 2018, Feiertag was celebrated with the renaming of the department in his honor, recognizing his status as an industry icon as well as his generous contribution to the department. His gifts are helping to fund a professorship, a research fellowship, departmental operations, as well as student learning activities. Feiertag also supports a University Libraries research collection aimed at making hospitality research easily accessible to industry professionals, academic faculty, and students.

Feiertag’s experience in hospitality sales and marketing began when – after serving his country in both World War II and the Korean War – he was recruited by the Charlotte, North Carolina, Chamber of Commerce to become the city’s first convention bureau manager. His success in Charlotte led to an offer a few years later by the Orlando, Florida, Chamber of Commerce to become that city’s first convention bureau manager.

It was a short time later that Feiertag would be offered another position in Charlotte, this time a director of sales position for a real estate company that had just purchased two hotels in the city. By 1967 Feiertag was named the director of sales for a rival hotel management company, the Roanoke-based American Motor Inns, Inc., owner and operator of 22 hotels and restaurants.

Feiertag explains, “After a while I took over their restaurant business – over 50 restaurants at the time – because they were losing money. Not knowing anything about food service, I helped turn around that business in less than a year.”

By the time he left American Motor Inns in 1983, Feiertag was senior vice president of operations and the company’s footprint had more than doubled to 50 hotels. Feiertag was once again recruited, this time to serve as senior vice president of operations for the hotel management firm Servico, Inc.

“I’ve never applied for a job,” Feiertag proudly says. “I’ve always been recruited. I’ve never written a resume or even negotiated a salary.”

He continues, “I’ve been really lucky. I’ve always loved every job I’ve ever had.”

Feiertag made his way to Virginia Tech in 1989 when he was recruited – naturally – to join the faculty by Mike Olsen, then-department head of Hospitality and Tourism Management.

Feiertag explains that he was initially a bit hesitant to take the position. “I told Mike Olsen, ‘I’m not that smart and I don’t know how to relate to college kids.’” Obviously, he eventually found a way to relate to the students, as Feiertag just celebrated his 30th year at Virginia Tech.

“I’ve got a story for everything,” he says, explaining his teaching philosophy. “The students always remember the stories.”

“Hospitality Sales and Marketing Through a Period of Evolutions” will be available in June 2019 through Apple Academic Press. To order online, please visit

Written by Jeremy Norman