If you see Lodging Hospitality Editor Ed Watkins in New York City this weekend at the AH&LA Fall Conference or next week at the International Hotel, Motel + Restaurant Show, tell him congratulations. He's probably not going to mention it, but on Saturday night, The School of Hospitality Business at Michigan State University is going to honor him with its inaugural Spartan Hospitality Business Champion award.
The award is for Ed's “extraordinary support for and belief in” The School of Hospitality Business, but the truth is Ed has had extraordinary support and passion for, belief in and knowledge of the hotel industry for 37 years. Yes, 37 years. He was hired as an assistant editor for this magazine in 1974 and worked his way up to editor in 1980.
Readers of his insightful Forum columns for the past 30-plus years certainly know of his expertise and wit, but I've been lucky enough to experience both firsthand. Earlier this year, I remember walking into Ed's office to ask what he knew about Steve Marcus and some Budgetel brand I'd never heard of. Not only did I get a complete history of the company and its foray into franchising, but I also heard about his trip to the Milwaukee airport when his limo caught fire.
And don't mistake the word support for cheerleading. Ed has never been afraid to pull punches and criticize someone or something in the industry (see his last blog post), which is what makes his opinion and writing so much more meaningful.
I'm sorry I'll miss The School of Hospitality Business' 2011 Celebration of Leadership Saturday evening at the Waldorf=Astoria, but hopefully someone will buy Ed a good beer, or two. He deserves them.