Faculty & Staff Achievements

New Faculty Joins the Department of Hospitality Management

by Georgina Alvarez

USF School of Management Associate Professor Thomas A. Maier
Professor Thomas A. Maier has a passion for analytics, applied business research and disruptive technology. I had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Maier who has recently joined the School of Management as an Associate Professor with the Department of Hospitality Management.

Read on to learn about Maier’s teaching methodology, areas of research, and his excitement to work with USF Hospitality Management students.

Gina Alvarez (GA): With your more than 20-years experience in the industry, what ideas do you have to advance our industry relationships in the San Francisco Bay Area?

Thomas Maier (TM): There are two things that will be key. One is going to be the breadth and the depth of culinary/gastronomy talent in the Bay Area and Napa Valley [food that is local, farm fresh, organic, seasonal and wine] combined with the urban nature of San Francisco and its wide range of culinary talent. The second is Silicon Valley and the continued emergence of analytics and technological innovation. I would like to be an integrator of bringing these two worlds together: analytics/technological innovation and gastronomy. Both have separate platforms, but I would like to be an integrator and bringing them closer together.

GA: How do you plan to bring your experience into the classroom? Can you talk about your teaching methodology?

TM: I center my pedagogy on experiential learning. I use Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory (ELT), which integrates learning theory with real-life practice. I also use industry-applied research as an entrée into the educational and industry collaboration. I would like to build collaborative relationships throughout the Bay area and Napa Valley and explore how analytics will impact the hospitality industry. For example, as a class, we approach hospitality industries on projects they would like for us to work on that will benefit their company in real-time. They provide us with the project information and/or data. Students then conduct a classroom based applied research project. Students learn real-time critical decision making skills and the value of research output. I will guide them through the various hospitality industry disciplines and dimensions using the ELT. In the end, the students will have learned hospitality design/development, concept creation, social media marketing and pricing theory and applied it to a local San Francisco business enterprise. Once completed with the project, students deliver it in presentation form to owners and operators for immediate feedback. This type of industry collaboration builds a reputation where USF Hospitality Management students and faculty are known for creating new knowledge through applied research activities and industry engagement.

GA: Your research interests include applied leadership, restaurant revenue management theory, and business analytics. Can you share more about that?

TM: I’m interested in cross cultural and multi-disciplinary engagement of students, specifically the area of gender based-women in leadership. From a publication standpoint, I would like to explore how we evaluate and measure effective leaders based on masculine based framework and masculine standards for success. We have many successful women in leadership we can learn from and also take the time to explore, evaluate and discuss what makes a successful leader in the 21st century. In terms of revenue management and analytics research I’m currently working on a restaurant revenue management decision-making framework that will offer hospitality industry executives a comprehensive approach to profit optimization and improved performance.

GA: Do you see business analytics as being a future connection for us with Silicon Valley being so near?

TM: I heard someone say “San Francisco is the new Silicon Valley.” The key there is that technological innovation can be disruptive. For example if you look at Kodak, they were the victim of disruptive innovation; they did not believe the digital era was coming. The hospitality industry was victimized by disruptive innovative technology by Expedia, Hotels.com, Priceline, Travelocity and all those on-line travel agencies. In my view, hoteliers failed to think ahead and understand how web browsing and internet search was going to impact how customers book reservations and rooms. Because of that, the on-line travel intermediaries got in between the hoteliers and their customers and have annually sliced-off billions of dollars from hotels because customers have been trained to go to on-line travel agencies as opposed to the hotel direct. In my view, the fact that Priceline bought San Francisco based OpenTable is the beginning of the disruptive technological innovation cycle that is going to hit the restaurant industry. It is likely they will use this as a platform to garner new users, integrate all their existing users and grow their overall market share as conduits to the restaurant /dining demand generation. Business analytics and profit optimization is going to continue developing at a rapid rate and will continue to be impacted by innovation. In some cases it will be disruptive innovation and in other cases it will be making travel and hospitality easier to consume, such as various travel, gastronomy and entertaining Apps. We need to be ahead of the game. Business analytics in the HM Department is key to building leverage and being in the high-tech marketplace.

GA: Are you looking forward to meeting and working with USF Hospitality students?

TM: YES - I cannot wait! I love teaching. I love the classroom environment. I enjoy working with students and sharing my experience and taking an interest in their career aspirations and what they are interested in. I look forward to taking part in preparing them for a fruitful career in hospitality and teaching them about the many dimensions for employment - hotels, restaurants, cruise ships, wineries, airlines, etc. It is a fascinating industry! It will be great to get to know them [students] and share the excitement that I have and to encourage and support them so they could achieve their goals. My favorite thing to do is teach. I’m looking forward to my classes. I have many fun and creative ideas for the food and beverage courses– table design competitions, menu planning, food and wine pairing and a high engagement level with the industry. I’m honored to be a part of the HM team.

Thomas A. Maier earned his Ph.D. in Leadership Philosophy at Gonzaga University in Spokane. He also holds an M.A. in Human Development from Salve Regina University in Newport, RI, and a B.S. in Hotel and Tourist Enterprises from the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY.

During the fall 2014 semester, Professor Maier will be teaching Beverage Management and co-teaching Food-Service, Culinary Arts and Entrepreneurship.

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