Anne Madison is stepping down from her position as chief strategy and communications officer for Brand USA. Madison, one of the earliest senior executives at the organization, has served more than seven years in her role. At the recent meeting of the Brand USA board of directors, president and CEO Chris Thompson effusively praised Madison’s work, noting that she “facilitated the development of a statement of purpose for the organization … that still has staying power today.” Madison, who has served in senior executive positions at several major corporations, will be taking on a consultancy role with Brand USA, while she also pursues her “career bucket list” and “a desire and need to focus on some important personal commitments.”
Duane Parrish merits double kudos. First, it was recently announced that he is assuming the chairmanship of Travel South USA board of directors this month. Then, at about the same time, it was announced that his peers on the U.S. Travel Association’s National Council of State Travel Directors had selected him as State Travel Director of the Year. Candidates for are nominated by state and territory tourism directors. A slate of three finalists is presented annually for selection by ballot.
Caroline Moultrie has been appointed managing director of the global tourism marketing company MMGY Hills Balfour in what the agency describes as an “enhanced leadership structure.” Moultrie joins form the World Travel & Tourism Council, where she was most recently executive vice president of membership and commercial. She succeeds Jonathan Sloan, who recently stepped down from the post of managing director after 17 years of service. Moultrie was previously group marketing director of Manchester Airport Group, head of direct marketing at Monarch Airlines and worked in corporate sales at Virgin Atlantic. She will join the company in September.
Mike Waterman has been appointed chief sales officer for Visit Orlando. He comes to the agency after having had been let go from his position as president and CEO of Visit Houston. He held the post since May 2015 and also served as chief sales and marketing officer for Houston First. The decision not to renew his contract was made by Brenda Bazan, president and CEO of Houston First. Visit Houston (formerly the Houston CVB) was structurally aligned within Houston First five years ago and the employees became employees of Houston First. However, the bureau and Houston First remain separate entities. Waterman came to Visit Houston in 2015 following more than 20 years in senior sales and marketing positions from Renaissance Hotels and Resorts, and then Marriott International.
Paula Lacey, Advantage Travel Partnership group commercial director and board member, is leaving the consortium in September to relocate to Dubai. Lacey, who is moving to the Middle East for personal reasons, worked at Advantage for three years. Advantage, meanwhile, has announced Lee Ainsworth, trading and product manager for Advantage Holidays, has been promoted to head of Advantage Holidays. Prior to joining Advantage, Lacey held numerous leadership positions in the travel industry, including, global franchise director at easyHotel, plus a number of senior roles within TUI’s specialist & activity division.
Julie Virgilio has been named director, strategic partnerships at TRAVELSAVERS Canada. Virgilio brings to TRAVELSAVERS over 28 years of wholesale and retail industry experience. In her new position, Julie will work closely with TRAVELSAVERS preferred suppliers, to develop targeted and strategic marketing programs to support a diverse range of travel segments and products. Virgilio started her career with Transat Holidays in 1992. She has held roles with Transat Tours Canada, Flight Network and Transat
Jenny McConnell has been named regional sales manager at the Central Pennsylvania CVB. She joins the bureau from the Voith Group, where she was a tradeshow/event and project specialist. Her previous tenures include six-and-a-half years as director of sales for Destination Gettysburg, and nearly three years as a tour and travel associate at the York County CVB.
Following a two-year departure from the company Former Saga sales executive Natasha Jones has rejoined the tour as a business development manager. She will be responsible for helping support key travel agent partners while developing new partnerships and helping them grow their Saga business.
Audrey Jastrzembskis is the new director of sales for APG Brazil. APG is an airline representation and solutions company. In Brazil, it offers ticketing, ticketing and distribution services to more than 84 airlines, as well as representing a number of tour and travel companies. She has over 18 years of experience working for companies in Brazil and England, including tenures with Varig and Etihad Airways in Brazil and also for Royal Air Brunei and Latam in England.
Blanca Espinosa has joined Luxury Van & Shuttle Bus in New York City as chief sales executive, managing partner. She was previously regional business development director at Super Shuttle. Espinosa has also served in senior sales and marketing positions with Gray Line New York and CitySightsNY/Airlink NYC.
Funway Holidays managing director Melissa Tilling has announced that she is leaving the company after 11 years. Tilling joined the USA and Caribbean specialist in 2008 and served as product and commercial director before being appointed MD in 2017. Last year, Funway was acquired by Apple Leisure Group Vacations, which has since launched sister operator Travel Impressions in the UK. “This is an exciting time for Funway Holidays as part of the Apple Leisure Group, with new opportunities to develop and grow with Travel Impressions in the UK,” said Tilling.
After 22 years with the company, Elisha Thomae has left Visual Turismo and has been replaced by former MMT Gapnet and later Flytour executive Thais Machado, who takes over as marketing and trade manager for the CVC-owned tour operator brand.
S. Renee Wilson has signed on as director of sales with Running Subway Productions, a Manhattan-based entertainment production company that conceptualizes, produces, markets and manages iconic productions and exhibits. She joins the company from The Ride, where she served for four-and-a-half years. Previously, she held senior sales positions with Harlem Spirituals/New York Visions and Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Times Square.
Timothy Liu, previously senior director, commercial strategy, has appointed to the position of managing director of sales planning and effectiveness for Air Canada. This is a new role that is designed to remove current duplication in the sales organization; and to centralize and build a center of excellence to support their field sales teams, agency partners and corporate sales team. Replacing Liu is Virgilio Russi, previously senior director of sales for Canada, is appointed to the position of managing director of international sales. Virgilio will continue to lead Air Canada’s participation in the Trans-Atlantic Joint Venture.
Tom Norton has joined Visit Jacksonville as a new national account manager, focusing on sports tourism. Norton started his career at the U.S. Soccer Federation where he spent two years as coordinator. In 2006 he transitioned into operations associate at the Orange Bowl Committee in Miami and since 2009 he has held several positions at the Gator Bowl Sports/Jacksonville Sports Council, the latter one being vice president of events and operations.
Also from Air Canada, Lisa Pierce, previously s senior director for USA sales and market development, has appointed to the new position of managing director of Canada and USA sales. In her expanded role, Pierce will lead the North American sales team and will be responsible for developing and implementing the sales strategies to ensure North American targets are achieved.
Direct Travel has announced that Stephen Smith will be taking on the newly formed role of senior vice president, leisure marketing, North America. He previously held the role of senior vice president, marketing & communications at Vision Travel which was acquired by Direct Travel in 2017. Direct Travel was recently listed at #9 on the Travel Weekly Power List with sales of $5.4 billion in 2018.
Industry veteran Steve Gorga is joining 30Seconds the AI-driven company 30 Seconds To Fly as executive vice president, the Americas. Gorga has led several major travel industry suppliers over the past many years. Most notably, he was CEO of Travel Impressions, a subsidiary for American Express. He has also Tourism Holdings Inc., Long Island and New York City as CEO and President.
Kate Kane Bewley has been named manager, tour sales & customer service, for Express Air Coach. A veteran of nearly 15 years in the tour and travel industry, she comes to the position from Churchill Downs Incorporated. Previously, Bawley was director of sales for Visit Southern Indiana; prior to that, she was a sales manager at Louisville Tourism.