When many outside the hotel space think of hospitality, they imagine that the hotel world begins and ends with service—the employees with whom they typically interact during a hotel stay. But as those in the industry know, a peek behind the curtain reveals a whole other side of hospitality, the business-minded folk—the small business owners and operators.
In 2006, Lee Pillsbury and his wife, Mary, donated $15 million to his alma mater Cornell University to highlight the entrepreneurial spirit of the industry. The Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship has added more than 10 courses to the School of Hospitality Administration in its nine years on campus, and has given Cornell a dedicated concentration through which students can learn the business of hotels, including how to craft a sound business plan, handle finances, manage employees, understand the real estate market, grasp the law of hospitality, and, ultimately, helm a successful business.
“There are literally hundreds of students who have passed through that institute and have developed new concepts for the industry,” says Michael Johnson, the Bradley H. Stone Dean of the School of Hotel Administration.