Deb Hickok, president and CEO of Explore Fairbanks, is stepping down after more than 20 years on the job. In a letter dated November 17, 2020, Hickok advised the organization’s board of directors of her resignation effective June 1, 2021 when she will “pursue the next chapter of opportunities.” “Deb’s announcing her exit more than six months in advance will allow ample time for an orderly implementation of that plan and the successful hire of a new CEO,” said Ashley Bradish, chair of the board of directors. Prior to joining Explore Fairbanks, Hickok spent a number of years in Pennsylvania, where she had her own consulting firm and also served at the Bucks County CVB, Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau and the Pennsylvania Department of Commerce/Division of Tourism.
Anne Sayers has been named Acting Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. She takes over from Sara Kain Meaney, who held the post for two years and who has “accepted an executive leadership role outside of state government.” Sayers joined the department two years ago. Previously, she has held leadership positions for several high-profile non-profit organizations, including a stint of nearly 13 years as program director for the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters.
Niels Bartel has taken over responsibility for TUI.com and the branch sales of TUI Germany as director, digital commerce & own retail. He succeeds Matthias Gehring, who is leaving the company at his own request. Bartel started his TUI career in 2001 after studying controlling. After taking on operational responsibility at TUI Interactive, his path led him to Wolters GmbH. Bartel has been responsible for the strategy team at TUI Germany since 2020. In his new role, Bartel will continue to develop the Group’s online growth and the future strategy of the TUI branches.
Karen Goldberg has been appointed senior vice president, brand strategy & business development, of the newly-created division Four Hundred by Design effective immediately. She joins from Virtuoso Travel, where she had been managing director, hotels & resorts-New York, for Virtuoso Travel. Goldberg brings over 30 years of hospitality experience and strong industry relationships to Four Hundred, which is private membership lifestyle management company and is known for known for servicing some of the high profile and influential people. Four Hundred Travel is a full service, Virtuoso-accredited travel platform, and is headquartered in Manhattan, NYC.
Ryan Johnson, former World Travel Holdings sales and operations chief, has been named managing director of luxury tour operator Destinology. The appointment follows the online luxury operator’s acquisition this past October from Saga by Stewart Travel owner Brooklyn Travel Holdings. Johnston spent almost ten years at World Travel Holdings and previously held roles with MyTravel, Gold Medal Travel Group and Airtours.
Dr. Stefan Kreuzpaintner will assume responsibility for the worldwide sales activities of Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian Airlines and Brussels Airlines on January 1, 2021. In addition, he will join the Executive Board of Lufthansa Airlines as chief commercial officer at the beginning of 2021, assuming responsibility for the Munich hub of Lufthansa Airlines. Kreuzpaintner succeeds Heike Birlenbach as head of sales. Birlenbach takes over the newly created Resort Customer Experience Lufthansa Group Airlines on January 1, 2021. Kreuzpaintner has worked for Lufthansa since 2003. He began his career in Frankfurt as Network Manager. In 2012, he took over the sales management of all Lufthansa Group airlines in Madrid for the Spanish and Portuguese markets. In 2015 he moved to Brussels Airlines in Brussels as vice president pricing, revenue management & distribution. In May 2017, Kreuzpaintner returned to group headquarters as vice president sales Europe, Middle East & Africa of Lufthansa Group Airlines.
Danny Crowe, group marketing director for JG Travel Group, is leaving the company to start at new job at a marketing agency. Crowe has been with JG Travel Group for 18 months, overseeing marketing for the brands Just Go Holidays, National Holidays, Omega Breaks, Cruise Connections and Albion. He will join the Go Inspire marketing agency in January. Sales and yield director Matt Herbert, who joined earlier this year from the tour operator Shearings, will oversee JG Travel’s marketing and public relations.
Keith Backsen has joined Destinations International as chief sales and services officer on January 1, 2021. This is a new position at Destinations International that will oversee the membership and partnership departments. Backsen has more than 30 years in the travel and tourism industry, with over 18 years working for destination organizations. His most recent position with the industry was as president and CEO of the Omaha CVB (Visit Omaha). Prior to Visit Omaha, he was the vice president of sales and services for Visit Spokane where he oversaw all sales initiatives
Paul Proly has joined Xplorie as the company’s newest destination manager. He joins the company from Central Florida’s Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures, where he was director of sales. Proly will be playing an integral role in launching Xplorie’s latest product, the Xplorie Enabled Voice Assistant. Proly’s more than 20 years of experience in the tours and activities industry includes tenures with industry leaders such as The Walt Disney Company and Arabian Nights Dinner Attraction.
Zoe Harris will be joining On the Beach (the UK’s third-largest tour operator) as chief marketing officer in January from GoCo Group where she is CEO for Look After My Bills. She was previously chief marketing officer for GoCompare. Harris joined GoCo from magazine and newspaper publisher Reach PLC where she was group marketing director for nearly six years. On The Beach said it had conducted “an extensive search process” across Europe following the departure of its former chief marketing officer Alistair Daly in March 2018.
Nils Jenssen, managing director of Reisecenter (Travel Center) alltours, has left the company at his own request and for private reasons. Jenssen had come to an agreement on the departure with the company’s partner and owner of alltours, Willi Verhuven. Jenssen has been the managing director of Reisecenter alltours GmbH since May 2015. Some 200 alltours travel centers belong. Jenssen will continue to fulfill his contract until he leaves. Alltours is one of the five largest tour operators in Germany and one of the top ten in Europe.
Rodrigo Sienra, has been named general manager for Brazil for Delta Air Lines. He replaces Fabio Camargo, who is leaving the company. Sienra takes the lead in Delta’s commercial efforts, reporting to Luciano Macagno, Delta Air Lines executive director-Latin America, Caribbean and South Florida. Sienra, who has been with Delta for six-and-a-half years, was previously sales manager.
Beth Gendler has been named future president and CEO of Alabama’s Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism. She’ll be taking on the new position upon the retirement next year of long-time CEO Herb Malone. Gendler, who has been a part of the organization for 18 years, currently leads the organization’s sales/meetings and sports commission efforts. Malone helped create the organization in 1993 after local community and business leaders envisioned an official tourism marketing organization for Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and the Fort Morgan peninsula.
Dawn McGowan has joined the North American team of Nina & Pinta, a London-based managed travel consultancy. The company has offices in Raleigh Durham, N.C.; Toronto; and the Washington D.C. area. Of the appointment, Nina & Pinta partner Jo Lloyd, said, “Dawn’s specialization in the hotel, extended stay and serviced apartments areas will serve our current and future clients well, and we are also excited for the boost she will bring to our team as an experienced sales professional.” McGowan most recently served as vice president of global sales for WWStay, a travel technology provider.
Debora Wright has been named vice president of sales and marketing for Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge (Visit VBR). For many travel and tourism professionals in the U.S., Wright’s name has been synonymous with the destination. One reason is that she has been with the organization since it was known as the Roanoke Valley CVB, joining it in 1993. She served as director of marketing for many years until she was appointed vice president of marketing and communications in 2013, where she served until her new job.