Recommended Reading from | Half Luck and Half Brains: The Kemmons Wilson, Holiday Inn Story

Recommended Reading from

Half Luck and Half Brains: The Kemmons Wilson, Holiday Inn Story

by Kemmons Wilson, Robert Kerr


“My background is what academia refers to as “clinical” in nature and several years ago, I addressed several classes at the Kemmons Wilson School of Hospitality & Resort Management at the University of Memphis in Tennessee.

Having taught as an adjunct professor for 20 years at three different colleges, I have always been comfortable as both an academic and corporate educator, facilitating more than 3,400 classes and programs.The classes were interesting and as I was leaving, I spent a few minutes in the small museum type setting that includes some of Wilson’s memorabilia. I was never employed at Holiday Inns, but living in Tennessee (then global headquarters for the brand) for more than 15 years certainly brought me into substantial contact with many people who had been. While Wilson was not a traditional hotelier by schooling or experience, he definitely influenced many business practices in franchising, brand support, standards and values.

Displayed in the lobby of the Wilson School of Hospitality & Resort Management at the University of Memphis are what he called his Steps for Success.

#10 included the title of his book: Remember that success requires ‘Half Luck and Half Brains’.  He uses his 20 Steps as episodes and illustrations.


I found the content of this book to be quite interesting and not the frequent ‘bragging’ that some biographies lean towards. Written by Wilson at age 83, he shares his “better way” of offering affordable lodging in understandable and practical lessons. The book also includes more than 100 photographs of family, business partners and unique scenes in the evolution of Holiday Inns in the days before the industry became involved in heavy mergers and the danger of the industry becoming viewed as a commodity.

As always, comments are welcome
John Hogan


The most successful hospitality businesses are the ones that listen to their customers, address their needs and continuously improve their service and product delivery.

What are you doing at your hotel, restaurant or hospitality business?

Dr. John Hogan, CHA CHE CMHS              602-799-5375

John Hogan is a successful hospitality executive, educator, author and consultant and is a frequent keynote speaker and seminar leader at many hospitality industry events. He is Co-Founder of a consortium ( of successful corporate and academic professionals delivering focused and affordable counsel in solving specific challenges facing hospitality today. is a membership site offering a wide range of information, forms, best practices and ideas designed to help individual hoteliers and hospitality businesses improve their market penetration, deliver service excellence and increase their profitability. Individuals wishing to contribute materials may send them Special pricing is in effect for a limited time that also includes a complimentary copy of LESSONS FROM THE FIELD- A COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO EFFECTIVE HOTEL SALES.

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