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CWT Leader Joins WVU Hospitality Program

MORGANTOWN — Jeff Zidell has joined the faculty of West Virginia University as an adjunct professor of practice within the Hospitality and Tourism Management program in the John Chambers College of Business and Economics.

ZidellZidell is Senior Vice President and Customer Experience Officer of RoomIt by CWT (the specialist hotel distribution division of CWT, the B2B4E travel management platform). He is also the former Senior Vice President of Loyalty Marketing and Partnerships for Hyatt Hotels, where he led a global team responsible for strategy, innovation, promotions, customer communications, partnerships, training and operations for the guest loyalty experience.

As part of WVU’s program, Zidell is teaching Hospitality Social Customer Relationship Management (CRM), a course that focuses on identifying hospitality industry best practices in building and managing a customer base through social media channels. In this course, students develop innovative engagement strategies to achieve the goals of social customer relationship management.

“While WVU’s Hospitality and Tourism is still a relatively new program, I am eager to be a part of its growth,” he said. “Social CRM is just one of the program’s innovative and experiential courses that reflect the Chamber College’s mission to build future business leaders through skill-based education.”

Now senior vice president and chief experience officer at RoomIt by CWT, Zidell is a travel industry veteran with over 25 years of experience across the travel ecosystem including technology, distribution, sales, online media, loyalty, marketing, partnerships and asset management.

Additionally, he has held leadership positions with Sabre, American Airlines, Google, Hyatt and CorePoint Lodging. He has a wealth of expertise in leveraging data, consumer insights and innovation to develop and implement products, services and partnerships focused on increasing customer engagement and revenue.

“I look forward to working with the students and leveraging my deep hospitality and CRM background to bring to life the topics that we will explore and discuss throughout the course,” he said.

Ajay Aluri, associate professor of Hospitality and Tourism Management and founding director of the Hospitality Innovation and Technology (HIT) Lab, believes Zidell’s experience will bring tremendous benefit to the program’s students. The HIT Lab is a platform that allows those in the industry to come together with academics in order to solve the issues facing the hospitality and tourism industry.

"Unlike other majors in the Chambers College, Hospitality and Tourism Management is an industry-specific major with opportunities to work with our industry partners in and out of our classrooms. For instance, we created the HIT Lab last year as a platform for our students to work and collaborate with industry in real-life projects,” Aluri said. “Our program and curriculum are so innovative and relevant to the industry, so having leaders like Jeff Zidell teach the Hospitality Social CRM course is just one example of how we are preparing future business leaders in the hospitality and tourism industry." 

Zidell has an MBA from the John M. Olin School of Business at Washington University and a Bachelor’s of Science in accountancy from the University of Missouri. He serves on multiple boards on behalf of Chicago not-for-profit organizations and is also a 12-time marathoner. 

-WVU-

bm/11/04/19

CONTACT: Brittany Murray
Senior Writer, Office of Strategic Communications
John Chambers College of Business and Economics
(304) 293-5927; brittany.murray@mail.wvu.edu

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