In Memoriam - Larry Hall 1959-2019

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November 11, 2019
In Memoriam
Victor Vesnaver

                      


The global hospitality industry has lost a good friend. Larry Hall passed away on Sept. 7, 2019 after a brief but valiant battle with pancreatic cancer. He had just turned 60. As was typical of his often larger than life personality, Larry kept the news of his illness quiet so his passing represents a shock for many.

  



Larry was destined to fi nd his way to hospitality. Following in his father’s footsteps, Larry graduated from the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration and worked for the Sheraton Corporation in the early 1980s. Upon graduation Larry accepted a position with Burroughs Corporation as a product manager for an early property management system it was developing. He joined Sheraton Corporation as a regional IT manager working at the New York Sheraton before moving to a corporate role at Boston headquarters where he was the global director of hotel systems and telecommunications. A pioneer in the early days of hotel revenue management, Larry’s adventurous spirit led him to Atlanta where he became chief operating officer of Aeronomics and subsequently Talus Solutions. He went on to hold the position of president at hsupply. com, Prosero, Hotel Booking Solutions (HBSI) and PARSpringer-Miller Systems. More recently, Larry held the position of chief executive offi cer at Koridor and Pure Wellness.

A consummate entrepreneur, Larry was fascinated by businesses in any sector but had a clear affi nity for all things technology and, of course, hotels. He loved working with product teams to suss out the next great feature or devise a way to solve a thorny industry problem to satisfy a customer request. Collaborative in nature, Larry’s meeting schedule was always jam-packed as he relished the give, take and sometimes battles that would ensue between colleagues and various constituent groups. Detail oriented, Larry kept copious notes throughout his career, the Cornell method of course.

Larry enjoyed mentoring new team members in almost any discipline although product management and marketing were clear areas of interest. He took this responsibility very seriously and it was akin to going to school. There were reading assignments and likely more than one lecture on the merits of using strong verbs in your writing. As you got deeper into your role, Larry always offered constructive suggestions and made himself available to coach thosefortunate enough to work closely with him. The customer was always central to every decision, and while fi scally responsible, he was never reluctant to do the right thing if it was in the best interest of the customer and the company.

Much to the chagrin of some groups within the organization, Larry was famous for saying “presume product” or “nothing ever happens until somebody sells something.” A born salesman, Larry loved to push the product envelope knowing full well that if something got sold before its time, he would marshal the resources to make sure it got delivered. It might take a little extra time or a little more money, but he was never going to lose a sale if it was anywhere within arm’s reach. He loved to meet with customers, talk about their business and share details about his. He was skilled at discussing intricacies of hotel operations with general managers and hotel company CEOs to articulate the business value of the proposed solution. He represented a great weapon when you were going in for the close.

A life-long athlete, Larry was all about the competition in almost every facet of his life. He grew up on teams, and felt most comfortable when surrounded by a team. This engendered a deep-rooted belief in the power of collaborative decision making. Where possible, Larry consistently turned to his team to help make mundane to complex decisions. He valued his team and always made the effort to go the extra mile for them. Have you ever worked for a company where you were welcomed by a gift basket fi lled with local specialty foods and your new business cards on your fi rst day of work? Larry understood the impact of a warm welcome, as well as the importance of recognizing and engaging his team.

Having traveled the globe with Larry, I can attest that he knew people everywhere. You could not attend an industry event without him bumping into several friends, former business associates, classmates or friends of friends. His network was wide and deep. Early in his career Larry was the president of the ECI Users Group and represented Sheraton in various industry initiatives such as THISCo and Hotel Clearing Corp. More recently, Larry was an active member of the HTNG Vendor Advisory Council, a member of Thayer Ventures Board of Advisors and Cornell University’s Institute for Entrepreneurship. In the last several years, Larry worked in an advisory role with several successful start-ups including Social Tables and Umapped.

An intrepid traveler and seeker of adventure, Larry was a founding member of Out There Adventures; a group of close friends who traveled the globe looking for something out of the ordinary to do on their vacations. Their travels took them to the heights of Kilimanjaro, trekking Hadrian’wall in northern England, riding the length of the Ho Chi Minh trail on motorcycles and running with the bulls in Pamplona, among other places. Larry enjoyed scuba diving for lobsters in his hometown of Scituate, Mass., and running up to Lookout Mountain for an afternoon of hang gliding. Over the past decade, Larry became an avid cyclist. He participated in races and charity rides all over the country. When he was not pumping the pedals, he opted to ride his Harley and made it to all 48 contiguous states. Like any good hotelier, he loved to cook, eat delicious meals, drink good wine and entertain.

Larry had many “dear dear” friends. Once he embraced you as a close friend, you immediately achieved inner circle status quickly getting to know all of his other “dear dear” friends, and of course his lovely family. I am forever enriched by my friendship with Larry, his family and the many new friends, industry colleagues and acquaintances he introduced me to. Since his passing, people from all over the globe have reached out to express their sadness and appreciation for all Larry did to advance their careers, whether helping them out of a jam or providing much needed guidance during diffi cult times. His larger than life personality often belied his kind, generous and sensitive demeanor. Larry spoke fondly of his years at Sheraton and always looked forward to the annual holiday get-together with his former Sheraton colleagues in Boston. I know his presence will be missed this year but his gigantic spirit and love of life will undoubtedly be there, where I am sure a drink or two will be raised in his memory. We’ve all lost a “dear dear” friend. 


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