Q&A: William Sullivan on hospitality education in Delaware

William A. Sullivan
William A. Sullivan

William A. Sullivan
Courtyard by Marriott-Newark at the University of Delaware

University of Delaware Hospitality Business Management Program in the Lerner College of Business and Economics


A for-profit subsidiary of the University of Delaware, the 126-room Courtyard by Marriott is also a training ground for the university’s hospitality business-management program. We talked to Bill Sullivan, the managing director and a professor, about the program and the industry. Before joining UD in 1990, Sullivan spent 31 years at DuPont, where he was director of DuPont Hospitality.

Q: What innovative methods are you using to prepare students for a career?

William A. Sullivan: There is a lot of direct interaction with guests. Students also have access to in-house Marriott training. Real-life applications are the best way to put what you’ve learned in the classroom to work.

Q: In general, what have guests come to expect from a hotel?

WS: Fast and free internet Wi-Fi, clean and clutter-free rooms, great beds, great coffee (we serve Starbucks) and service that’s on-demand but not pushy.

Q: You have a certification in hotel industry analytics, you’re a certified hospitality technology professional and you have a master’s degree in hotel data management. How do analytics come into play in the hotel business?

WS: [Analytics] takes all the raw data — a data warehouse — and refines it to extract information, such as: “Where do our guests come from?” or “What are their spending habits?” Like most industries, we’re well-automated and we have plenty of information, but we need to get it into a useable format.

Q: What’s happening as baby boomers age and millennials enter the picture?

WS: You’re seeing millennials looking for places that are more fun and more casual, but they have great food and great beverages. As people grow, they’ll switch brands. Marriott, Hilton and Hyatt are trying to develop these different brands in different lifestyle segments.

Q: What needs do you see in your industry, and how has the hospitality program addressed them?

WS: I see the need to teach young people how to marry service and the many new technologies and service offerings in the industry. When I first came to the program, there wasn’t a teaching hotel. We’re focused on giving the students “experiential learning.” They work hand-in-hand with our staff, who have more than 150 years of hospitality experience in many areas. The core value of service must be foremost!

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