The Pioneer Award annually recognizes an individual or organization who dramatically improves, or whose dynamic contributions to, the hospitality industry in one or more of the following specialties: consulting, planning, developing, marketing, and or managing, uplifts the entire industry. The award was presented at the Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS) held recently in San Diego.
Pillsbury’s far-reaching impact on the hospitality industry ranges from launching new hotel brands to pioneering revenue management and yield management systems, to creating a global internet marketing company. He is recognized as one of the hotel industry’s most savvy hotel acquisition and turn-around experts. Pillsbury is founder and director of the Leland C. and Mary M. Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship at Cornell University, which provides aspiring entrepreneurs and innovators with the knowledge and skills they need to fulfill their ambitions.
He also is a leader in developing strong business relationships with China’s hotel community. Through a joint venture formed in 2005 between Thayer and Shanghai Jin Jiang International Hotels (Group) Company Limited (“Jin Jiang Hotels”), he formed Hubs1, China’s only fully automated central reservations system and Global Distribution System (GDS).
In December 2009, a 50/50 joint venture between subsidiaries of Thayer and Jin Jiang Hotels, China’s largest hotel company, signed a definitive agreement to acquire Interstate Hotels & Resorts, the nation’s largest independent hotel management company, in a transaction valued at approximately $307 million. The acquisition is expected to close in the first quarter of 2010, pending stockholder approval.
He began his hospitality career at age 16 working at a Howard Johnson’s, later graduated from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and then joined Marriott Hotel Company. Early on, he held various operations positions and rose quickly through the corporate ranks.
He made his first major contribution there with the revamping of Marriott’s pricing strategies, created the company’s first generation of revenue management and yield management systems and introduced the company’s first frequent guest program. He launched ventures that led to Marriott’s entry into the time-sharing segment and creation of the Fairfield Inns economy lodging segment and engineered the acquisition of the Residence Inn brand, which today remains the extended-stay segment leader.
In 1989, he founded Grand Heritage Hotels, a manager of historic and unique independent properties and sold the company two years later. With Fred V. Malek, he then co-founded Thayer Lodging Group, a leading hotel real estate investment fund sponsor that has remained in the top 5 percent of all fund sponsors for the past 19 years.
The company is a value-add investor that works with major lodging brands to acquire and reposition hotels. Thayer recently announced the closing of its fifth investment fund, Thayer Hotel Investors V LP, and its parallel fund, V-A LP, together totaling $280 million. Additionally, Thayer Lodging Group recently placed another $100 million under management in a separate vehicle.
Other hospitality ventures Pillsbury has created include: founder and partner in TIG Global Internet Marketing Company; EMC Venues, representing conference centers and resorts; HQuant Lodging Real Estate Index Group; and Thayer Insurance Group, which provides specialized health, benefits, liability and property insurance to hotels nationwide.
In addition to a bachelor’s degree of science from the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, Pillsbury holds an Executive M.B.A. from Northwestern University J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management. He serves on the University Council at Cornell University, the Dean´s Advisory Board of J.L. Kellogg School of Management. Pillsbury is founder and director of the Leland C. and Mary M. Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship at Cornell University.
ISHC is a professional society of leading hospitality industry consultants. Membership is by invitation only and members are required to abide by the ISHC Code of Professional Conduct. ISHC is represented by some two hundred members who, collectively, have expertise in over 40 different specialty areas and work experience in 65 countries. A complete listing/directory of members and specialty areas of expertise represented within ISHC is available under “Consultant Search” on the ISHC web site at www.ishc.com.
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