October 11, 2023

Meet the HFTP Global Board: Introducing Robert Mandelbaum

HFTP Leadership
Written by HFTP Publications

In the vibrant world of hospitality, Robert Mandelbaum stands as a testament to a lifelong passion for the industry. As he embarks on this latest role as a Global Director within HFTP, Mandelbaum brings with him a wealth of experience and a profound understanding of the intricacies that define the hotel industry. His history of active involvement in various committees, coupled with an eagerness to be a hands-on contributor, reflects his commitment to driving meaningful progress within the association. 

When did you first know you wanted to be in the hospitality industry and what is your favorite part?  

Growing up, our family took two-week summer vacations each year. We packed up the car and drove up and down I-95 on the east coast visiting every museum, tourist attraction, beach and battlefield there was. At night, we would stay in Holiday Inns, Howard Johnsons and Ramadas and I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. When I found out you could actually get your degree in Hotel Administration, I knew that was the path I wanted to take. 

My favorite part of the hospitality industry is the people – all service-oriented and lots of fun. I also enjoy a nice hotel stay that provides great personal service, no matter if it’s economy or luxury. 

What do you find valuable about your membership with HFTP?

Professionally and personally, I enjoy hanging around fellow hotel data nerds that appreciate a hotel financial statement and know that there is more to hotel metrics than just RevPAR. 

Why did you want to join the HFTP Global Board?

When I join organizations as a volunteer, I want to be a doer. I have thoroughly enjoyed serving on various HFTP committees over the years. Seeing and appreciating the passion of current and past board members made me want to join that group. 

What HFTP initiatives are you interested in contributing to during your time on the board?

My greatest knowledge is in the hotel industry; I am not a club or technology person. Therefore, I have a keen interest to provide guidance and leadership for HFTP initiatives that aim to attract and benefit hoteliers. 

I really enjoy the opportunity to reach out to my contacts within the hotel industry and invite them to be presenters at HFTP events. Therefore, I would like to continue to assist in the development of the educational programs at HFTP events. I have also been involved in hospitality research for the past 30 years, and knowing HFTP sponsors research has me hoping to contribute to that area as well. 

How will your previous experiences help HFTP?

One of my biggest assets is the network of hotel industry friends, colleagues and clients that I have built over the past 40 years. I use that as a source for both guidance and favors. I also have leadership experience within other associations. I know the challenges of attracting members, developing succession plans for leadership, retaining active chapters, changing by-laws and more. 

Describe a professional experience/anecdote that you will always remember (e.g. installing a new software system, a funny mishap, a deserved promotion, etc.).

Early in my career, I served as the assistant controller at a hotel that was scheduled to close within the next 12 months. Management assigned me the task of preparing a budget for the year that would minimize the loss the hotel was expected to take. One of my recommendations was to have the hotel switch from onsite accounting to centralized accounting in the corporate office. Management accepted that recommendation and I effectively eliminated my own job. Fortunately, I was able to quickly find employment at Pannell Kerr Forster and have been working in the consulting and research environment since then. 

Do you have any hobbies outside of your profession?

I know it’s not significantly outside of hospitality, but I really love to travel.  One of my goals is to visit all seven continents and all 50 of the United States.  By attending the 2023 HFTP Annual Convention, Indiana will become my 49th state. All that’s left is South Dakota — Mt. Rushmore, here I come! 

2023-2024 directors Global Board HFTP hospitality hotel meetings strategy volunteer