Who’s Where in Travel: Big Exec Changes at Tour Ops

Hiring sign
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It’s been a week of big executive changes at tour operators, hotel companies and more. 

Richard Laudner
Richard Launder

This week Central Holidays promoted María José Merino to the role of vice president, operations for the brand, assuming responsibilities for Central Holidays’ day-to-day operations. Before she joined Central Holidays in 2006, Merino worked for such acclaimed companies as Liberty Travel/GoGo Worldwide Vacations, Club ABC Tours, and Klientours in Ecuador.  

In another promotion this week, Flight Centre Travel Group named Jennifer Dzialo vice president, corporate land product. In this role she will be responsible for the deployment of a consolidated land program across the Americas region. Approaching seven years with Flight Centre Travel Group in the United States, Jennifer's most recent position was director of product strategy.


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Also this week luxury operator Cox & Kings added two new destination specialists to its team. Derek K. Ong, formerly of Asia DMC, joins the team as senior destination specialist for Asia, while Cheri Burns joins from Scenic as destination specialist for Europe.

In DMC news, this week Richard Launder, formerly president of The Travel Corporation (TTC) USA, has moved within TTC to become the president and CEO of Destination America (DA), a destination management company in North, Central and South America. The move was effective as of the beginning of July. For the time being, TTC Chief Executive Brett Tollman will take on leadership and direction of TTC USA, the company said.

In association news, this week WESTA (Western Association of Travel Agencies) added four new members to its 2018 Board of Directors. They are:

  • Sally McKay, MG Travel, Oceanside, California
  • Kathy Bos, KB’s Travel, Sacramento, California
  • Paul Schneidmiller, World Wide Travel, Walla Walla, Washington
  • Judy Ridings, R & R Travel, Cascade Locks, Oregon

In tourist bureau news, this week Naohito Ise arrived in New York from Tokyo to head the New York office of the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO), succeeding Ken Iwata, who is returning to Japan after his service in the United States.

Also this week Grand Canyon Resort Corporation hired Colin McBeath to lead its tourism operations as the company’s new CEO. McBeath, whose hospitality career spans more than 25 years working for top travel and hotel destinations across North America and Asia, will begin work on July 16.

In hotel news, this week Denihan Hospitality announced the hiring of two senior operations professionals. Nadia Karmali joins the company as vice president of revenue management, while Michael Shiwdin will serve as vice president of asset management. 

In Latin America, Radisson Hotel Group expanded its development team for the region with two new appointments. Tom Osborn, based in Miami, will serve as director of franchise sales and development with a focus on the Caribbean, while Adrian François will serve in a consultant capacity as director of franchise sales and development, with a focus on South America, specifically targeting Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. He will be based in Rio de Janeiro.

Also in Latin America, Hilton announced the appointment of Jorge Giannattasio as senior vice president and head of Caribbean and Latin America operations. In his newly appointed position, Giannattasio will oversee the region where Hilton currently operates a portfolio of more than 130 hotels.

In Asia, Dream Hotel Group announced the appointment of Sunny Li as vice president of development for China and North Asia. Based in Shanghai, Sunny Li will be responsible for driving the company’s four lifestyle hotel brands into China and North Asia markets.

Finally, a number of individual properties announced senior appointments this week:

  • Corinthia Palace Hotel & Spa in Malta named Adrian Attard general manager. 
  • Androse Bell was named general manager of the new Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach.
  • Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa appointed Chrisie Smith as its new director of sales, marketing, and events.
  • Thomas Carreras was appointed as the new general manager of the Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown.
  • Rosewood Hotels & Resorts appointed Philip Meyer as managing director of Rosewood Sand Hill in Menlo Park, California. 
  • The Pantheon Iconic Rome Hotel named Claude Costella as opening general manager and Francesca Gori as director of sales and marketing.
  • Omni La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, California, named Tom Kermabon as its general manager. 

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