David Downing is leaving his post as president & CEO of Visit St. Pete/Clearwater, a department of the Pinellas County (Fla.) Government and the official tourism marketing and management organization for the St. Pete/Clearwater in order to make a move to the private sector, assuming a partnership stake in a Tampa Bay area-based hospitality development enterprise. Downing became CEO of Visit St. Pete/Clearwater in 2014, after servings for 5 years as the agency’s deputy director and as their corporate communications manager for 2 years.
Robin Sammartino has started a new position as contracting manager NorthEast USA at World2Meet(W2M). She joins the company following a tenure of more than 3 years a WebBeds Europe. Previously, she was purchasing manager Northeast USA & Canada for SunHotels.
Robert Murdock has been named president of the Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau. Murdock, who has been with the organization since 2014—he was director of sports marketing and handled marketing to different group sectors—succeeds Scott Phelps, who has retired. Prior to joining the Convention & Sports Bureau, he held senior positions for sales and/or marketing or several different Boston-area organizations.
Custom FIT operator Avanti Destinations has named Jeannie Kutz as its Mid-Atlantic regional sales director, responsible for New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina, as well the District of Columbia, Manhattan and the eastern areas of both Pennsylvania (to Harrisburg) and Tennessee (to Chattanooga and Knoxville). A 25-year veteran of the tour and travel industry, Kutz most recently as Northeast served as regional sales manager for Tahiti Travel Services, a tour operator headquartered in Papeete, French Polynesia.
Lesley Rollo has been appointed as the new managing director of Travelbag in the U.K. She comes to the company from her position as managing director of Hayes & Jarvis, Austravel & Jetsave for the Travelopia group. Rollo had been with the company for more than a dozen years.
Rob Lyons, director, tourism and partner strategy, recently took over tour and travel sales strategy for Madison Square Garden Company, promoting its teams (Knicks/Rangers), tours of Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall, and its Christmas Spectacular starring the Radio City Rockettes. Lyons has been with the company for 7 years in marketing, focusing on promotional ticket sales partnerships and media planning.
George Welbers has left his post at Thomas Cook Germany. Welbers, who left the company at his own request, was omnichannel director at the company, and had been instrumental in implementing the new omnichannel concept, with which Thomas Cook actively and intensively integrated travel agencies into their own online sales. Welbers’ responsibilities in the area of omnichannel and e-commerce will be transferred to Carsten Seeliger, who has been sales manager in Germany since 2013. Thomas Cook Germany Managing Director Stefanie Berk thanked Welbers for his long-time engagement with Thomas Cook, and said that she regrets “very much that he will leave us”.
Alejandro Calligaris has been named CEO of the Best Day Travel Group, a tour operator with a strong presence in Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Colombia. He moves up from his post as chief revenue officers. He joined Best Day nine years ago as vice president and general manager of South America. Previously, he served as CEO of the online site Hoteldo.com.
Saga Holidays has announced the promotion of two of its senior team to fill two new director roles created following a structural review of its product and purchasing teams. Elanor Sahadow has been named director of commercial, responsible for the commercial and aviation functions along with commercial strategy for growth and retention for Saga Holidays; she moves from her role as head of the short haul business unit. Sahadow has been with Saga since 2011. Rob Goodwin, previously head of destination services and river cruising, takes on a key role as director of product and purchasing. Goodwin is a 20-year veteran of the tour and travel industry.
Céline Bonizec has joined the Salaün group as Salaün Holidays B2B sales representative. The Paris-based Salaün Holidays is a specialty tour operator that sells product from the USA and Canada, as well as other destinations. Originally from Finistère, Bonizec is now in charge of the management and valuation of the portfolio of travel agency clients in the Greater West. Céline Bonizec worked previously for Transat Holidays and Jet Set.
Charles Presley for 39 years at The Group Travel Family
Dave Burns for 26 years at All American Tours, Inc.
Jennifer Deutsch for 21 years at Educational Travel Adventures
Dean Smith for 19 years at WestWorld Tours
Corey Black for 18 years at Green Light Group Tours/Capitol Music Fest
Nancy Richardson for 11 years at Idaho Tourism
Susan Moore for 10 years at Caesars Entertainment
Ruth Mensch for 7 years at U.S. Travel Association
Gabriel E. Nunez for 6 years at GEN Travel Solutions
Vera Roncaglia for 5 years at Magic Stars Vacations
Pamela Joy for 4 years at Bloomington (Minn.) Convention & Visitors Bureau