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Exceptional Service Starts Here

The Academy for Hospitality Arts is seated in the belief that exceptional service starts with intentional planning. With 130 years of combined experience across an array of settings– including hotels, restaurants, county clubs, fine dining and entertainment complexes–we are the heartbeat of hospitality. Our mission is to educate, enrich and inspire hospitality professionals leveraging our collective knowledge managing more than 10,000 events across the globe.

meet our experts

President and Founder

AHA President and Founder Michael J. DiPeri continuously leverages his 38+ years of experience to educate, enrich and inspire hospitality professionals. Michael’s love of hospitality began shortly after graduating from Farmingdale State College SUNY in Long Island. Following a series of sales and service roles, Michael created an event resource company in 1997, Yipeee, Inc. Establishing his own business enabled Michael to pour his experience into consulting, staffing and event management services for industry leaders and celebrity chefs.

With an eye on improving the hospitality landscape, Michael helped launch an enterprise event software (Giggo) for managing and booking service professionals. This mindset of wanting to enhance the hospitality community led Michael and his wife Karen to launch New York’s premiere event staffing company HMG+ in 2012. Creating extraordinary experiences is Michael’s calling. His ongoing personal investment in professional certifications for safety, service and leadership underscore a deep commitment to empowering hospitality professionals. From developing groundbreaking training programs to leading multi-day trainings for 1000+ students, Michael is dedicated to helping those around him exceed expectations.

Stephen Ruggieri
Director of Training and Development

An accomplished event manager and training leader, Stephen Ruggieri’s interest in hospitality began at a young age. Stephen grew up watching his grandfather manage Rhode Island’s Alpine Country Club in a way that made every guest feel like a celebrity–including the great Louis Armstrong. Those initial service interests evolved as Stephen studied at The University of Rhode Island. Focused on business and development, Stephen pursued a variety of roles to nurture his passion, including positions in event planning and production, training and development, and serving as head of hospitality for Bloomberg L.P.

Career highlights include serving the Dali Lama, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Donna Karen, Dianna Ross, Dolce & Gabbana, Diane von Fürstenberg and Giorgio Armani. Another noteworthy collaboration: working on the grand opening of Atlantis in Dubai with Colin Cowie and Saul Kerzner. These hands-on experiences have shaped Stephen’s 25-year career and now serve as a guidepost for AHA’s courses and certifications. As Director of Training and Development, Stephen leverages his background to create accessible learning frameworks that instill compassion and confidence in hospitality professionals.

Julia Travis
Service manager 

Meet Julia Travis, a vibrant Oregon native, who finds passion by guiding others with a steady hand and an open heart. A proud alumna of Portland State University, Julia graduated Summa cum laude honors with a B.S. in Psychology and Philosophy. Julia’s academic pursuits reflect her deep commitment to understanding the intricacies of human connection and thought.


In her professional journey, Julia has embraced the values of connection, positivity, hard work, and adaptability. With over three years of experience in bartending, she has honed her skills in creating a welcoming atmosphere and delivering exceptional service. Her transition into a training role is a natural progression, combining her educational background with her experience in hospitality.


Now residing in New York, Julia serves as a Service Trainer, where she applies her knowledge and passion for hospitality to educate and inspire others in the industry. She believes that meaningful interactions are the cornerstone of excellent service and strives to influence the day-to-day lives of both her clients and colleagues through dedicated acts of service.


The Academy for Hospitality Arts offers value at every skill level, from burgeoning service professionals to seasoned operators. Our range of curated, industry-leading courses will elevate your team’s potential.

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Focused on the art of service, the Academy for Hospitality Arts helps hospitality professionals expand their skill-sets and serve with confidence. Our course offerings are infused with decades of industry knowledge and designed to drive consistent service excellence.

Exceed Expectations with the Academy for Hospitality Arts

Contact Us Today!

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