73rd Annual Short Course Recap 2018

The 73rd Annual Short Course and the 12th Annual Advanced Short Course hosted the “superstars” of our industry from January 8–12, 2018, at the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel & Restaurant Management in Houston.

This one-of-a-kind, all-in-one hospitality training event – recognized by the International Society of Hotel Association Executives – proved once again to be the “Best Educational Program” in the nation for those students hand-picked by their hotel management to attend.

If you would like a glimpse into the wonderful week of Short Course 2018, please visit THLA’s Facebook page at facebook.com/texaslodging to see pictures taken throughout the week, and check out our YouTube channel here to view our slideshow.


Students at Short Course are split into three different team-building color groups. At the end of the week, one individual from each group is named “Outstanding Student” based on votes by their peers, final test grades and class participation. The three Outstanding Students from the 2018 Short Course were:

• Ricardo Gonzalez Diaz, Front Desk Associate, Four Seasons Resort & Club Dallas at Las Colinas Irving
• Amanda Bianchi, Bartender, Hotel Emma San Antonio
• Jag Gill, President, Gill Properties Houston

From this distinguished list, one student was awarded the Dr. James Taylor Outstanding Student Award. Dr. Taylor taught Short Course and inspired our students for an amazing 47 consecutive years! This year’s Dr. James Taylor Outstanding Student Award recipient was Jag Gill, President at Gill Properties in Houston, TX.

Krista Stone, Culinary Supervisor at the Woodlands Waterway Marriott in The Woodlands, earned the Top Scoring Student Award by achieving a 96 on the final exam.


Each year, THLA challenges Texas hotel companies to send ten or more of their top employees to Short Course. THLA thanks the following companies who met our 2018 Corporate Challenge and supported this incredible event:

Hilton Hotels & Resorts

Hotel Association of Tarrant County

Hotel Emma

La Quinta Inn & Suites

Omni Hotels & Resorts

HD Supply Facilities Maintenance


The week was filled with programs on virtually every major facet of hotel operations, from hotel law to sales and marketing to housekeeping and human trafficking. Each topic was presented

by hospitality figures of international reputation. THLA is grateful to our esteemed instructors who support this unique event – thank you so much!

Kendra Baldazo, Speaker, United Against Human Trafficking

Dr. Stephen Barth, Professor, Conrad N. Hilton College of HRM, Houston

Justin Bragiel, General Counsel, Texas Hotel & Lodging Association, Austin

Jayni Brown, Director of Housekeeping, The San Luis Resort, Galveston

Dr. Marc Clark, Speaker, SmartBizzOnline.com, Franklin, Kentucky

Steve Cunningham, General Manager, Hotel Galvez & Spa, Galveston

Mary Dawson, Assistant Dean, Conrad N. Hilton College of HRM, Houston

Steve Dees, Hotel Systems Administrator, 1859 Historic Hotels

Agnes DeFranco, Professor & Distinguished Chair, U of H/Conrad N. Hilton College of HRM, Houston

Don Farrell, Speaker, FreshRevenues, Memphis, TN

Doug Horn, General Manager, Houstonian Estates, Houston

Scott Joslove, President and CEO, Texas Hotel & Lodging Association, Austin

Craig Krause, Owner, Direct Development Training, Georgetown

Rex Kilgo, Director of Engineering, The San Luis Resort

Mel Kleiman, President, Humetrics, Inc., Houston

Juan Madera, Assistant Professor, Conrad N. Hilton College of HRM, Houston

Karen McCullough, Speaker, Karen McCullough & Company, Houston

Garvin O’Neil, Professor of Practice-Hospitality & Retail Management, Texas Tech University

David Rivera, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Texas Tech University, Lubbock

Steve Rudner, Attorney, Rudner Law Offices, Dallas

Brian Sullivan, Deputy General Counsel, Texas Hotel & Lodging Association, Austin

Will Tarrant, Service Metrics Group, LLC, Plano


THLA thanks the following local hotel associations for providing scholarships to the annual Short Course and for realizing that this experience not only enhances a student’s career, but benefits other employees and the hotel where the student returns to work. Short Course scholarships were provided by:

Austin Hotel & Lodging Association

El Paso Hotel & Motel Association

Galveston Hotel & Lodging Association

Greater Corpus Christi Hospitality Association

HD Supply Facilities Maintenance

Hotel Association of North Texas

Hotel Association of Tarrant County

Hotel & Lodging Association of Greater Houston

Tyler Hotel & Lodging Association


• Our Short Course 2018 Chairman: Breck Hamrock, HD Supply Facilities Maintenance

• Hilton University of Houston

Short Course Sponsors

• Galveston Hotel & Lodging Association

HD Supply Facilities Maintenance

Insurance Solutions of America

Landry’s Inc.

Namco Manufacturing


Scott Equipment

US Lawns of North Houston


Zenith Insurance

We would like to give our sincere thanks to all of the Short Course and Advanced Short Course students, speakers and sponsors for making this year such a success!

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