by Terence Baker | March 01, 2005

Adam Siegel"Our members are part of a large academic
market that I match with hotels to get
better group deals.”

Adam Siegel is the founder of Academic Ambassadors  (, a discount hotel service aimed at academic and other nonprofit groups and travelers. He works and lives in Northampton, Mass., with his wife, Rachel, and their two children, Esme and Isaac.

What was the impetus behind Academic Ambassadors? I wanted to enhance my own travel experiences. I’m the director of major gifts [fund-raising efforts] at Smith College, so I travel a lot visiting alumni, and I disliked staying at impersonal hotels where I often felt bored and alone.
Describe your membership. I have about 1,000 member travelers academics, fund-raisers and other nonprofit employees, many of whom have no experience negotiating with hotels. They are part of an invisible but large academic market that I match with member hotels to get better group deals.

How do you chose member hotels? I started with eight hotels, properties I knew and liked, and it grew from there. Now my members help recommend and even criticize properties. The hotels on our rolls might not be the number-one address in town, but they suit the needs of my members. I hope to take the service internationally and to secondary cities in the United States.

What did you study at college? I am an attorney by education, and that taught me the skill of persuasion as in persuading hotels to sign up for what is, after all, a conceptual idea, as I cannot guarantee large numbers. I am very grateful to the properties for their faith in me.