HOUSTON, Aug. 31, 2011 — Three hospitality-industry visionaries, including the authorities on hotel industry performance trends and the chairman of India's largest business conglomerate, are this year's inductees into the prestigious Hospitality Industry Hall of Honor housed at the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston.
Randy and Carolyn Smith, co-founders of STR (Smith Travel Research, Inc.), the global leader in hotel market data and performance benchmarking, and Ratan N. Tata, chairman of Tata Sons, the holding company of the Tata Group, India's largest business conglomerate that includes Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, will join some of hospitality's biggest icons and industry giants in the Hospitality Hall of Honor at the annual induction ceremony to be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct.19, in the Conrad N. Hilton Ballroom at the Hilton University of Houston.
"These inductees are remarkable leaders and are greatly deserving of this recognition," said John Bowen, dean of the Conrad N. Hilton College. "Carolyn and Randy Smith's company is known for and respected for their STAR Report, which is used by most of the major hotels to give managers business intelligence on how they are doing vis-à-vis their competitive set. Ratan Tata joins our growing list of international inductees and is the first inductee from India. His Taj Hotels are known throughout the world and acclaimed for both customer service and luxury appointments. He is also well known for his business acumen, as well as his philanthropic activities."
Randy and Carolyn Smith co-founded STR (Smith Travel Research, Inc.) more than 25 years ago. Randy Smith currently serves as the company's chairman, and Carolyn Smith served as the chief operating officer for more than 20 years. The couple had the idea of creating a database that housed the names of all hotel properties in the United States. This concept evolved into the Hotel Census Database, which houses the information of more than 140,000 hotels worldwide—and growing. This database is what put STR on the map.
STR has established itself as an authority on hotel industry performance trends. The company tracks hotel occupancy, rate and revenue for more than 42,000 hotels worldwide through its STAR (Smith Travel Accommodations Report) report, which launched in January 1988. The STAR report has become "the source" of information for chains and management companies. In 2007, STR expanded its benchmarking efforts outside of North America with the creation of STR Global.
The Smith's commitment to confidentiality and accuracy has set the industry standard since, as the story goes, they launched STR from the kitchen table of their home in 1985. Today, from its headquarters outside of Nashville, Tenn., the company gathers lodging industry supply, demand and performance data from hotels located in more than 160 countries. Their STAR report, which shows a hotel's operating performance relative to its competitive set, is never far from a hotel general manager's grasp. This scorecard gives GMs—as well as the property's owner—an instant snapshot of property performance.
Randy and Carolyn Smith's tireless efforts to develop products that enhance the hospitality industry have resulted in the STR family of companies that includes STR Global, RRC Associates, STR Analytics and HotelNewsNow.com. STR also created the Hotel Data Conferences, which are held annually in Nashville and London.
Ratan N. Tata is chairman of Tata Sons, the holding company of the Tata Group, India's largest business conglomerate, which was founded by his great grandfather, Jamsetji Tata. Since taking over as chairman in 1991, Tata has been instrumental in reshaping the Group. During his tenure, the group's revenues have grown manifold, totaling $83.6 billion in 2010-11. The Group currently has the largest market capitalization of any business house on the Indian Stock Market. Though headquartered in Mumbai, more than half of the Group's revenues come from outside India.
Tata is also the chairman of the major Tata companies, which include Tata Motors (incorporating Jaguar and Land Rover), Tata Steel, Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Power, Tata Global Beverages, Tata Chemicals, Indian Hotels (better known as Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces) and Tata Teleservices. Tata serves on the board of directors of Fiat SpA and Alcoa. He is also on the international advisory boards of Mitsubishi Corporation, the American International Group, JP Morgan Chase, Rolls Royce, United Technologies, Temasek Holdings and the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
Established in 1995, the Hospitality Industry Hall of Honor recognizes industry leaders who have made extraordinary contributions to American and international business and society. The inductees' achievements are now memorialized in commissioned portraits in the new Hall of Honor Gallery in the newly renovated Hilton University of Houston's lobby, and in Hilton College's new Massad Family Library Research Center and Hospitality Industry Archives, which contains archival documents and memorabilia from the companies the inductees conceived and built.
A Board of Overseers, which includes representatives from the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the National Restaurant Association, Hilton College and past inductees or their representatives, nominate and elect each year's Hall of Honor inductees.
The inaugural Hospitality Hall of Honor class of 1996 included four inductees—J. W. Marriott, Conrad N. Hilton, Vernon Stouffer and Kemmons Wilson. Since then, nearly 60 industry luminaries, including Ray Kroc, Howard Johnson, Ernest and Julio Gallo, Walt Disney and Conrad Hilton's sons, Barron and Eric Hilton, have joined them.
The event, which has grown from its inception as a gala dinner and induction ceremony into a week-long affair featuring "Think Tank" sessions and roundtable discussions with Hall of Honor members, allows hospitality students at the Conrad N. Hilton College the chance to interact with industry leaders. These sessions serve not only as excellent networking opportunities, but also as extensions of classroom and experiential learning. An industry luncheon and a reunion dinner for the former inductees round out the week's activities. All aspects of this event are managed and run by a student board of directors.
"The most unique aspect of Hall of Honor is that it brings a number of the top leaders from the various sectors of the industry together, in one place, to have a dialogue with our students," added Bowen. "The other exciting thing is that our students are running the event. This gives them a great sense of accomplishment and the networking opportunities that open doors."
The 16th Annual Hospitality Industry Hall of Honor festivities on Oct. 19 will begin with a reception at 5:45 p.m., followed by the ceremony and dinner at 7 p.m. The event is black tie optional. Think Tank sessions with industry leaders, who will discuss a number of current hospitality topics, will be held Oct. 18 and 19. For more information on Hall of Honor events, or for ticket information, contact faculty mentor Alexis Hoey at 713.743.2432 or firstname.lastname@example.org.