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Lessons Learned: Insights from Hospitality Icon Eric Danziger

By Gavin Fraser | February 29, 2024

I had the privilege of conducting an interview with esteemed Hotel Executive, Eric Danziger. During our conversation, he graciously shared his retirement aspirations alongside reflections on his illustrious career achievements. The experiences he recounted were exceptionally insightful, rendering our exchange both intellectually stimulating and thoroughly enjoyable.

Danziger’s upbringing as the child of immigrant parents deeply influenced his perspective on hard work and determination. Raised in a household where perseverance was paramount, he learned the value of seizing opportunities and taking responsibility for one’s own success. Despite not attending college, Danziger’s ambition and work ethic propelled him forward. He went on to state, “You are responsible for making things happen. I was dealt an ugly hand but I didn’t dwell on that.”

His career began as a bellman at the Fairmont San Francisco, where he quickly demonstrated a keen aptitude for the hospitality industry. Mentored by industry veterans like Jack Long, Jim Schmit, and Jim Carreker, Danziger’s trajectory was shaped by their guidance and wisdom. He attributes much of his success to their mentorship, which instilled in him not only the skills necessary for the job but also the importance of integrity, leadership, and continuous learning.

From his humble beginnings, Danziger worked his way up the ranks, holding various positions at esteemed hotel groups like Doubletree, Wyndham Hotel Group, and the Trump Hotel Group. His experiences, including 14 relocations during the 1970s and 1980s, taught him resilience, adaptability, and the ability to thrive in diverse environments.

Danziger emphasized the importance of taking on challenging roles to create separation and garner success. He recalled a pivotal moment when he moved to Tucson to undertake a less glamorous yet crucial role, which ultimately set him up for future success.

Recounting his time bringing the Wyndham brand back to the fore, Danziger mentioned Wyndham Hotels in 2008 had 12 brands. “There was no Wyndham Hotel Group. I came up with the mantra, ‘it’s time to be who we already are.’ which is the greatest hotel group in the world.”

During his tenure as the CEO of Trump Hotels, he played a significant role in expanding the Trump hotel brand globally, overseeing the development and management of luxury properties in various locations. Speaking of how proud he was to represent Trump Hotels, Danziger said, “We were really good hoteliers. Never before has a hotel become a 4-5 star hotel in it’s first year.” His time at Trump Hotels was marked by efforts to enhance brand recognition and elevate the guest experience across the hotel portfolio.

Danziger’s advice for aspiring hoteliers is rooted in the ethos of hard work and dedication. He stressed the significance of embracing work, especially in the hospitality industry where hands-on involvement is crucial. “It’s not a bad word to have to work hard. Nobody is going to give you the keys to the executive washroom. You have to do the work. In order to prove yourself, you have to work,” advised Danziger. Additionally, he underscores the importance of alignment with one’s partner regarding career goals and emphasizes the need for a thorough understanding of the business aspects of hospitality.

Drawing from his own experiences, he encourages young professionals to be proactive in seeking out opportunities, taking on challenging assignments, and continuously honing their skills. He believes that success in the hospitality industry requires a combination of passion, perseverance, and a willingness to go above and beyond expectations.

While Danziger’s career boasts numerous successes, his greatest accomplishment lies in nurturing the next generation of hotel professionals. “My greatest accomplishment is not my successes and titles and jobs, it’s the people that will carry on in this industry.” Reflecting on the impact he’s had on developing hundreds of successful individuals in the industry, Danziger said, “It’s always been touching to me how people regarded their time with me.” His leadership style, characterized by mentorship, empowerment, and a genuine commitment to his team’s growth, has left a lasting legacy in the hospitality community.

In retirement, Danziger prioritizes spending quality time with family and maintaining his health and fitness. His commitment to personal well-being reflects a holistic approach to life beyond the confines of the corporate world. Additionally, he remains actively engaged in mentoring aspiring hoteliers, sharing his wealth of knowledge and experience to inspire the next generation of hospitality leaders.

Danziger’s legacy extends far beyond his executive roles. Through his mentorship and leadership, he has inspired countless individuals to pursue excellence in the hospitality sector. His mantra of perseverance, coupled with a relentless pursuit of progress, continues to resonate with those aspiring to follow in his footsteps. As he transitions into retirement, Danziger’s impact on the industry and the lives he’s touched will endure as a lasting testament to his remarkable career and unwavering dedication to the hospitality profession.


Gavin Fraser

Gavin Fraser is an Editor at Hotel Interactive, a leading provider of online resources and information for the hospitality industry serving as a hub for industry news, trends, and insights. Gavin covers the hospitality sector for hotelinteractive.com, distributes its e-newsletter, and moderates panel discussions for the company’s BITAC events.

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