Tara Hippensteel has left her position as director of tour & travel, North America at Hard Rock Cafe International, and has signed on as national tour & travel manager with Topgolf, a global sports and entertainment company headquartered in Dallas. Hippensteel had been with Hard Rock since 2003.
Cliff Myers, who has more than 20 years of tourism, convention and hotel experience in Virginia, will become the next president and CEO of Visit Vancouver USA. Myers, who is tentatively scheduled to begin his new job Sept. 23, will be joining from the Virginia Beach CVB, where he has served since 2005. Prior to that, he was with the Cavalier Hotel in Virginia Beach where he was assistant general manager and director of sales and marketing. Myers will succeed Kim Bennett, who retired at the end of June.
Jérémie Faller has joined Kuoni France’s sales department, where he will be in charge of the eastern sector comprising a number of departments within France, as well as Luxembourg. Faller, who has more than a decade of experience in the tour and travel industry, was recently a sales representative at the tour operator Salaün.
Paul Jacobs has been named senior vice president of customer experience for leisure brands of the Flight Centre Travel Group’s Americas division. Flight Centre Travel Group maintains three core business segments: leisure, corporate and at-destination. As part of its continuing growth strategy, the company has established an executive steering committee for the Northern Hemisphere (U.S., Canada and the UK) to guide the evolution of its core business models and establishment of new models. Jacobs joined Flight Centre Travel Group as a part of the management team of Student Universe—where he served for more than eight years—which was acquired in late 2015.
Disney Destinations International veteran Peter Welch will retire from the company next year, departing on February 14, 2020 after 28 years with the company. The vice president marketing and sales UK and Ireland for Disneyland Paris has a hotel interest in Sri Lanka he plans to concentrate on together with a business opportunity in Spain. Welch’s planned departure follows that of Hugh Wood, who stepped down from his post as vice president of sales, marketing and distribution following 10 years with the company.
CWT (formerly Carlson Wagonlit Travel) has announced the appointment of Andrew Gunnels as the company’s chief procurement officer. He joins from First Data, where he was senior vice president. Gunnels will be responsible for CWT’s overall sourcing and procurement strategy. He joins the company from First Data Corporation. Previously, he was manager of strategic sourcing for Delta Airlines. Ten years ago, he was chief financial officer of Delta Air Lines, before leading the airline’s supply chain management to maximize quality, delivery and cost competitiveness.
Tom Albrand is Montreal-based Air Transat’s new marketing director for Benelux-Switzerland-Germany. Albrand, who began his new job several weeks ago, joins from Vacansoleil, a European OTA specializing in camping holidays, where he was marketing content coordinator.
The Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board is expanding its presence in the Oceania/Asia region with the appointment of Craig Gibbons to now oversee Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, in addition to Australia and New Zealand. Based in Sydney, Gibbons has been Los Angeles Tourism’s regional director for Australia/New Zealand since 2014. In his expanded role, Gibbons will develop and support air service for Los Angeles International Airport; design a destination training program for the travel trade utilizing the L.A. Insider program; and attend key industry trade shows in the region. Before joining Los Angeles Tourism, Gibbons served both Visit Britain and Visit Indonesia.
Robyn Lynch is the new tourism director for the Gainesville (Ga.) Convention and Visitors Bureau. Lynch joins the bureau from Lake Lanier Olympic Park, where she was executive director, overseeing events such as the International Canoe Federation Dragon Boat World Championships in September 2018. She previously worked at the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce.
Kevin Pohlmann has been appointed to the WestJet airlines agency sales team as business development manager. A 20-year veteran of the tour and travel industry, Pohlman has held senior sales positions with such companies as Cathay Pacific Airways and the Pinnacle Hotel Vancouver Harbourfront. He will work with agency partners to promote WestJet and WestJet Vacations products while growing agent and agency earnings and maintaining relationships with WestJet’s travel trade partners.
Jake Buganksi, former New Jersey state tourism director, has started a new position as general manager at The Wine Room of Cherry Hill and Coda Rossa Winery. Buganski served as New Jersey’s state tourism director from the end of 2016 until March 2018, then became vice president of strategy for Tempest. Prior to his service at New Jersey’s Division of Tourism, he was president of the Steuben County (N.Y.) Conference and Visitors Bureau.
Marty Behr has been tapped to head Abercrombie & Kent’s new destination management company in the United States. Behr, who has been recognized as a top travel specialist for National Parks by Conde Nast Traveler, has a résumé that also includes tenures as founder and president of National Parks Revealed; Alaska Unusual and American Safari Cruises.
Amerigo Perasso, former Silversea president and chief executive, has been named the new chief executive of the Abercrombie & Kent Group. It follows the completion of an investment in the Abercrombie & Kent Group by Heritage Group, whose chairman, Manfred Lefebvre, is also chairman of Silversea’s. It was announced in February that Heritage Group would take an 85 percent stake in the luxury operator, and Geoffrey Kent, who founded A&K in 1962, 15 percent. Lefebvre will become co-chairman of A&K, and Kent’s title will be founder and co-chairman. Perasso is a business lawyer who spent 14 years at Silversea, holding various positions prior to becoming chief executive.
John MacLeod has been named chief commercial officer of Virgin Australia, which is reorganizing its executive team as part of a restructuring that involves the elimination of 750 jobs in the wake of poor financial results for the carrier. MacLeod, Air Canada’s vice president for global sales, will reportedly replace acting chief commercial officer Merren Macarthur as of October 8. MacLeod has previously held roles at Virgin America, Air New Zealand and Alaska Airlines
Libbie Rice, Ensemble Travel Group president, is leaving the company effective September 10. Libbie told the trade publication TravelPulse that she was “stepping down and ready to do something different … After nine years in the role, I’m looking forward to taking some time off to look at opportunities and taking a break.” Rice said she is leaving the company on good terms. Rice took over all management responsibilities and running the global operations for Ensemble Travel Group following the departure last June of Lindsay Pearlman. Rice joined Ensemble Travel Group in January 2011. Her career in the tour and travel industry includes tenures with Starwood Hotels & Resorts, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Eos Airlines, and GetThere.
Paul Bencivengo was recently named president and chief operating officer of Visit Bucks County, a suburban county north of Philadelphia, Pa. Bencivengo, a long-time resident of the area, joined the tour and travel industry in 2001 as senior manager of marketing & communications for the Philadelphia CVB. He started as marketing director at Visit Bucks County in 2009. He was promoted to vice president in 2014.