In memoriam: Howard Feiertag, hospitality and tourism management industry leader and faculty member
Howard Feiertag, hospitality and tourism management icon, longstanding faculty member, and namesake of the Howard Feiertag Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management in the Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business, passed away March 3.
Feiertag’s esteemed career included over six decades of professional and academic experience in meetings and convention bureau management, hotel operations, food and beverage, and hotel marketing and sales.
“For over three decades, Howard Feiertag was instrumental in advancing Virginia Tech’s world-class hospitality and tourism management educational ecosystem,” said Roberta “Robin” Russell, interim dean of the Pamplin College of Business. “Howard was an extraordinary industry leader, educator, mentor, philanthropist, and champion for all hospitality professionals. His enduring impact will be felt by generations to come.”
Feiertag was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, the youngest of 10 children. A World War II and Korean War veteran, he earned a bachelor’s degree at Michigan State University. His hospitality career kicked off when he was recruited by the chamber of commerce in Charlotte, North Carolina, as the city’s first convention bureau manager. He would go on to become the first city convention bureau manager in Orlando, Florida.
A short time later, Feiertag became director of sales for a real estate company with hotel holdings in Charlotte. He went on to become director of sales for Roanoke-based American Motor Inns Inc. and serve in leadership roles, including senior vice president for operations, at Servico, a hotel management company in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Feiertag was recruited to join the Virginia Tech faculty in 1989, and he taught courses in hospitality sales and meeting management. In pursuit of academic excellence, he brought coursework to life by fostering connections among students, faculty, and industry professionals. He was committed to delivering student experiential learning opportunities and integrating hospitality and tourism experts into the classroom.
For nearly 30 years, Feiertag partnered with hotels throughout the commonwealth to provide students with direct experience in new business prospecting. Integrated within hotel operations for multiple days, students received coaching from hotel employees and used real-life leads to engage with potential clients.
Feiertag’s commitment to academic excellence will continue to be felt through his philanthropy. In recognition of a generous contribution by Feiertag, the hospitality and tourism management department was renamed the Howard Feiertag Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management in 2018.
The endowment funds departmental operations, student learning activities, a research fellowship, and the Feiertag Professor of Practice in Hospitality Leadership to help the Pamplin College of Business attract and retain leading faculty members in hospitality operations. It also funds a University Libraries research collection aimed at making academic research easily accessible to industry professionals, faculty, and students.
Feiertag was a long-term member of the President’s Circle within Virginia Tech’s Ut Prosim Society of donors, which recognizes extraordinary philanthropic leaders in the university community.
Feiertag’s philanthropy to Virginia Tech remained active until his passing as he recently endowed a new scholarship – the Howard Feiertag First Year Fund – to advance the recruitment of first-year college students who aspire to pursue an undergraduate education in hospitality and tourism management at Virginia Tech.
“Howard impacted the lives of thousands of students, faculty, and industry professionals through his contagious Hokie Spirit, hands-on approach, and mentorship,” said Phil Xiang, department head and associate professor. “He cherished spending time with his family, friends, and colleagues in social settings, and his kindness, generosity and personal charm always shined through and affected others in a positive way. It is hard to put into words the effect he had on those around him. He was seen by many as ‘Mr. Hospitality,’ and his legacy will live on.”
Throughout his career, Feiertag delivered educational and training programs for industry professionals through the Educational Institute of American Hotel and Lodging Association, Hospitality Services of America, Meeting Professionals International, Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International, and Virginia Tech Continuing and Professional Education. He frequently presented to hotels, meeting planners, convention bureaus, and travel agent groups.
His many honors include the university’s Award for Excellence in Outreach, an honorary lifetime membership in the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, and the Student Choice Award.
Among Feiertag’s industry accolades are lifetime achievement awards from the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International and the Virginia Society of Association Executives Career Services Award, Events Industry Council Hall of Leaders Award, fellow of the Institute of Certified Travel Agents, and fellow of the American Hotel and Lodging Association’s Educational Institute.
Feiertag was the Sales Clinic columnist for Hotel Management magazine for over three decades. He was the author of "Hospitality Sales and Marketing: An Evolutionary Journey with Howard Feiertag" and co-author of "Lessons from the Field – A Common Sense Approach to Effective Hotel Sales."
In accordance with Feiertag's wishes, there will not be a service. Those who would like to donate in his memory may contribute to funds that support the Howard Feiertag Department of Hospitality & Tourism Management. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.