Nicole Rogers has been named executive vice president and chief sales officer of SF Travel (the San Francisco Travel Association) effective March 1. Rogers will succeed Tom David, who held the role for three years ending last October, according to his LinkedIn profile, and is now a regional vice president of sales and distribution for Marriott International. Rogers has lived in the Bay Area for more than 30 years. She has worked for Pier 39’s Blue & Gold fleet. She also directed sales and marketing for the Cartwright Hotel with the Kimpton Group and worked for several years for Embassy Suites by Hilton.
Long time receptive tour operator, event specialist and more, Sue Arko (left), is turning over the reins of her Free Spirit Vacations and Events in Gilbert, Arizona to business colleague Suzanne Hagberg. Free Spirit Vacations, the tour operator business, was part Arko & Associates, and the company has been around for more than 25 years. Arko announced the move via social media that, on July 1, 2021, Hagberg will be the company’s new owner. Before joining up with Arko, Hagberg was vice president of Detours for some four years. Prior to that, she was director of marketing for five years at Saguaro Lake in Mesa, Arizona.
Jayne O’Brien is JetBlue’s new head of marketing and loyalty, responsible for the airline’s brand, marketing and advertising, e-commerce, TrueBlue® loyalty program, as well as its onboard product. Previously, O’Brien served as senior vice president of global brands at Intercontinental Hotel Group; managing director, USA for Scenic–Luxury Cruises & Tours; and chief marketing officer for Dubai Properties Group, part of Dubai Holding. Her professional background also includes extensive airline industry experience from an 18-year career with British Airways in a number of operations and marketing leadership positions in the Americas and Europe, culminating in the role of Head of Global Brand & UK Marketing
Katie Conway has been named director of marketing at Global Travel Alliance. Conway joins the company following a brief tenure freelancing. Previously, she director & international group sales director for Visit Pittsburg for three years. Prior to that she served for five years with Pittsburgh Public Theater, lastly as its director of education & outreach.
Brenda Hill was recently named assistant director at Visit Beaver County (Pa.), which is in the Greater Pittsburgh area. Previously, she served for more than 14 years with Visit Pittsburgh, lastly as vice president, destination services. Prior to that, she worked for 10 years in sales management positions for several hotels.
In the UK, ex-British Airways executive Sara Dunham has been named to head up the travel division of The Midcounties Co-operative. With the title of chief officer–travel and leisure services, she has responsibility for the Co-operative Travel business including 78 branches and websites, the Co-op Holidays tour operation, 165 Personal Travel Agents and more than 140 members of the Co-operative Travel Consortium. She replaces former chief retail officer for specialist business Alistair Rowland, who left Midcounties to become CEO of the Co-operative Travel Consortium member Blue Bay Travel. Dunham has close to 20 years’ experience in the travel industry, with 15 years at British Airways across its airline and tour operating divisions. More recently she has worked on strategic projects for Saga Group, including within its travel businesses.
Paris-based UFI, the global association of the exhibition industry, has appointed Marie-Laure Bellon as its next chief operating officer. Currently the CEO and General Manager at French exhibition organizer Eurovet, she will join UFI on March 1st, and work out of the organization’s headquarters in Paris. Marie-Laure Bellon joins UFI from Eurovet, a leading trade show organizer for lingerie and swimwear, and a subsidiary of Comexposium and the French Knitting and Lingerie Federation. At Eurovet, she has held various senior executive positions over the years. These roles involved the strategic positioning and restructuring of the business, launching new activities in Asia and the United States.
Julien Houdebine has been named sales and marketing director for Corsair airline, a French carrier that serves several U.S. and Canadian cities. The company is based in Rungis, just outside Paris, France. Houdebine previously held the position of network, alliances and revenue director. He is now responsible for the entire sales and marketing perimeter, and thus manages the sales, digital marketing and customer experience, revenue management, pricing, program and freight teams. Houdebine began his career within the Air France-KLM group. He has held various positions in Revenue Management and Network, medium-haul and long-haul. In 2013, he was appointed director of long-haul economic performance. He joined Corsair in January 2016.
The Avis Budget Group has announced the appointment of Martin Gruber as its vice president, commercial. The move comes as a part of the company’s reorganization of its international leadership team. Gruber has been with the company for more than 20 years. For the past nine years, he has led the company’s central European business.
Klaus Förster is the new managing director of the travel agency chain TVG and RTK’s in-house consolidator, RTK Ticketplus. Förster follows Heiko Pieczka, who is to concentrate more on the self-distribution of RT-Reisen. Förster, who has been with Reiseland since 1998 and was most recently responsible for controlling at the RTK Group and Reiseland, will be responsible for the finances of the two RTK subsidiaries. He will continue his previous activities in personal union. Birgit Aust continues to be responsible for the conceptual orientation and the operative business as managing director. At RTK Ticketplus, the other managing director position is Maren Exel.
Jet2holidays, the UK’s second largest tour operator according to the number of Abta licenses held, has expanded its trade team with the appointment of two new sales executives. Sharon Wilson (left) will cover the operator’s Scotland and Cumbria region, while Michelle Thake will take on Jet2holidays’ south east and Stansted catchment. The pair will work in collaboration with independent agents to help them market, promote and sell Jet2holidays packages to increase sales and grow their businesses. Wilson started her career as an agent before spending 25 years working for Royal Caribbean, including 17 years in the group’s sales team covering Scotland and Ireland. Prior to her move to Jet2holidays, she spent seven years working as the group’s sales and brand trainer in the UK.
Roman Townsend has left his position as director of media relations and corporate affairs at Hotelbeds. After five years with the company, Townsend is starting a PR consultancy focused on the B2B travel sector. He is well-known in the tourism and hospitality sectors, having served as the chief spokesperson for the Palma de Mallorca-based Hotelbeds as the company went through a busy period of acquisition, growth and reorganization. Before his tenure at Hotelbeds, Townsend was briefly the head of communications for Vueling Airlines and, before that, he was senior manager, corporate communications for the Amadeus IT Group.
Mitsi Goulias is Visit Florida‘s new public relations in Brazil. With over 20 years of career in PR, media relations, corporate communication and marketing, she joins the team of Marcelo Kaiser at Aviareps, Visit Florida’s official representative in the country. Goulias served for almost a decade as press and public relations manager for Visit Britain, the UK’s tourism promotion agency. Another major global destination in Mitsi’s curriculum is New York. Between 2019 and 2020, she held the position of press and public relations manager for NYC & Company, along with the Interamerican Network team.
Pleasant Holidays and its luxury brand, Journese, have announced the appointment of Chris Ames as their new destination marketing manager, Mexico, Central & South America. Ames, a travel industry professional for more than 20 years, has extensive experience with the destinations as well as in the tour operator and package vacation market, including roles in product, sales and marketing.
As destination marketing manager, Ames is responsible for developing and executing sales and marketing strategies with a variety of suppliers. These include resort brands, tourist boards and visitor bureaus, activity vendors, airlines and more for the Mexico, Central and South America product portfolios for both brands.
Helen McCabe-Young has been named senior vice president, marketing, for the Virtuoso travel company, a large global agency with 50 locations internationally, and also sells U.S. product, especially in California. McCabe-Young initially joined the organization in July 2020 as the acting senior vice president of marketing. She previously held senior executive positions with Kerzner International, including One&Only Resorts and Atlantis The Palm, Dubai. She also brings more than 12 years’ experience in the cruise sector, having served as vice president, marketing for Silversea Cruises and prior to that, helping build the Princess Cruises brand while with ad agency, Campbell-Ewald.