Michael Allen Leven, also known as Mike, has served the hospitality industry for more than 50 years. Throughout his career, Mike has garnered nearly every award and recognition one can receive in the hotel industry, and he’s recognized by many as an industry icon and an innovative pioneer. In 2014, AH&LA presented Leven with a lifetime achievement award at the annual Americas Lodging Investment Conference.
Mike grew up in a modest 3-family home in Boston, and attended a tough, inner-city high school. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Tufts University, and a Master of Science degree in public relations and communications from Boston University. In 1961, Mike landed his first position in the industry as the sales promotion manager of the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City, where he earned $495 per month, free lunch, and the promise of a $40 per month retirement pension after 40 years of service.
After the Roosevelt, Mike moved into the operations side of hotel management with the Dunphy Company. After 23 years in various marketing and operations positions, Mike landed his first presidency with Americana Hotels & Realty in 1984, a position that didn’t last that long because the company sold out the assets shortly after he arrived. In 1985, Mike was recruited to serve as President of Days Inn Corporation, his first long term presidency, and he led the company through a reorganization resulting in significant growth from a regional chain to one of the largest brands in the world. From 1990 to 1995, Mike served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Holiday Inns Worldwide, and oversaw the launch and significant growth of the new Holiday Inn Express brand.
In 1995, Mike founded U.S. Franchise Systems Inc. (USFS), which franchises the Microtel, Hawthorn and Best Inns & Suites hotel brands, and served as its Chief Executive Officer and President from October 1995 to December 2006. Mike then served as Vice Chairman of the Marcus Foundation, Inc. from January 2006 to September 2008, and Chief Executive Officer of the Georgia Aquarium, Inc. from September 2008 to 2009. From there, Mike moved on to serve as the President and Chief Operating Officer of Las Vegas Sands, leading their expansion into the Asia market, where it is a dominant player in China.
One of Mike’s prouder career accomplishments was providing Days Inn funds and resources to co-found the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) in 1989. In 2010, he created the Michael and Andrea Leven Family Foundation, which concentrates on three areas: free enterprise, the Jewish community, and oil independence.
Global business travel is a $1.4 trillion industry. The Global Business Travel Association calculates the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 resulted in a loss of $113 billion in business travel spend in hotels, airlines and other sectors of the travel industry. But all is not lost. GBTA, industry analysts and travel management companies see some green shoots of hope for 2021 as the COVID-19 vaccine rolls out and corporations put some of their people on the road again. This report is part of Long Live Lodging’s ongoing coverage of the coronavirus crisis and its impact on the hospitality industry.
Long Live Lodging, an online multimedia news organization that covers the hospitality industry, found itself tossing aside its plans for news coverage late in the first quarter of 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. and devastated the hospitality industry. The year turned out to be ground-breaking for Long Live Lodging, which developed the industry’s first live digital conference, and its podcast, Lodging Leaders, which increased its followers through timely, credible and balanced reporting on trends and issues driving the industry during the historic year. The company also won international recognition for its coverage of the COVID-19 crisis and its work as a whole. Long Live Lodging is a startup media company, formed in 2019, with Lodging Leaders, which was founded in 2015. In today’s report, we celebrate the podcast’s 300th episode. Podcast founder and co-host Jon Albano and co-host Judy Maxwell have a free-wheeling conversation in which they review the top podcasts of 2020 (Can anyone say ‘fair franchising’?) and give a brief preview of what the media organization plans for 2021.