Marriott Visiting Professor Sets World Record in The School of Hospitality Business at Michigan State University

We’ve done the math. Guinness Book representatives were not there, but credible sources (students and professors!) verify that Visiting Leader and Alumnus Richard Farrar (BA ’73) addressed a record number of students in classroom presentations the week of February 7 – 12, 2011.

The newly-retired vice president of owner and franchise services for Marriott International, Richard spent the week interacting with students and alumni at The School’s Annual Auction on Feb. 5; he spoke in undergraduate and graduate classes; and he met with faculty in The School and administrators in The Broad College of Business about The School’s planned Real Estate Development Institute, of which Richard has been named founding director. 
Speaking in seven different courses with enrollments totaling almost 1,000, Richard’s positive message was felt throughout The School.  
Smiling and enjoying the Spartan basketball game against Penn State on Thursday, February 10, Richard acknowledged that he had worked hard the previous few days.  “It takes a lot of energy to prepare for and speak in all those classes, yes, but the students provide that energy.  I have had a blast.” 
By all accounts, Richard brought a special brand of enthusiasm to each class, as well as his 35 years of experience in marketing, developing, opening, and franchising Marriott properties.  
According to Dr. Bonnie Knutson, who teaches HB 875 – Marketing in the Hospitality Industry, “Richard’s time in our class was a perfect example of the mantra that a teacher’s job is not to teach, but to set an environment in which students want to learn.  Perhaps one of his students said it best: ‘I loved his speech style, and how he involved us in the talk.  Instead of just presenting us with a lecture, he encouraged us to ask questions, ones that we were interested in.  His sense of humor eliminated the distance between guest speaker and the audience.’”
A thumbnail of Richard’s points in additional classes:

  • HB 100 – Introduction to the Hospitality Industry – the hospitality industry is cyclical, and bounces with the nation’s GDP; differences between management companies and franchisees/franchisors; essentially a simple industry:  hot food hot, cold food cold, smile over the telephone
  • HB 237 – Management of Lodging Systems – one of the issues facing the hotel industry is the growth of online travel intermediaries; the co-dependence is problematic in the long run; take “leadership” courses, not just “management” courses
  • HB 375 – Hospitality Marketing – the “product” isn’t always the most important sellable or marketable feature of your business; the “psychographics” of your customers have a huge say in your marketing; think like your customer 
  • HB 380 – Meeting and Event Planning and Management – time management and organizational skills are paramount to success; the devil is in the details (as well as executing the details flawlessly); event management can be an avenue or a lifelong career
  • HB 476 – Applied Hospitality Marketing in Lodging – discussed the hotel online distribution channel and hotel brands; emphasized the emerging role of hotel online marketing to increase reservations; brand reputation is a key factor in determining online booking
  • HB 882 – Financial Management in the Hospitality Industry – revenues from franchised hotels and managed hotel contracts complement one another, and Wall Street favors that arrangement; publicly traded companies think and act very differently than privately owned companies, especially in a down market; general managers need to think like an owner 

“Richard’s week with us highlights the connection between The School and the industry,” says School Director Dr. Ron Cichy.  “His expertise complements the work of our professors, and adds to the students’ education.   It is an added bonus that he is an active and dedicated alumnus, a Hall of Fame member who has given of himself over and over again for many years.”
About The School of Hospitality Business at Michigan State University
Recognized as the top-ranked hospitality business school in the world, The School celebrates its 84th year anniversary in 2011.  The School has almost 10,000 graduates worldwide, including a number of leading academicians and industry executives, who have earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees.  Founded in 1927, the mission of The School is to continually enhance The School’s leadership position in hospitality business education through teaching, research, and service.  The School offers an exceptionally well-crafted curriculum, taught by innovative professors who are leading textbook authors, sought-after consultants, and respected researchers.