Who’s Where in Travel: Leadership Changes at Travel Institute, Ensemble

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This week has seen some more big new leadership changes in the travel industry. 

The Travel Institute this week appointed 30-year industry veteran Diane Petras as its new president. Petras has had a relationship with the organization for 20 years, and officially joined the staff in 2010 as COO. She also has experience in corporate travel and as a business owner (travel agency and meeting planning), a producer of travel agent training events, and a developer and marketer of travel software at TRAMS and Sabre, and as a travel agent in Downers Grove, IL, her first role in the industry. 

In other leadership changes this week, Ensemble Travel Group announced the results of the elections for its 2018 Board of Directors. The newly elected directors are:

  • Sanjay Goel, owner and president of Cruise Connections Canada Ltd., Vancouver, British Columbia (incumbent).
  • Scott Kertes, owner of Vacations by Design @ Hartford Holidays, Garden City, New York (incumbent).
  • Terri Jo Lennox, owner of Travel Time Inc., Calgary, Alberta (incumbent).
  • Gary Pollard, president and CEO of Ambassador Tours, San Francisco (incumbent).
  • Stephanie Turner, president & CEO of Brentwood Travel, St. Louis.

In host agency news, this week Avoya Travel promoted Ashley Hunter to vice president of business development. Hunter, who has been with Avoya for more than 11 years, will take the lead in growing supplier partnerships.

In cruise news, this week SeaDream Yacht Club appointed Emilio Freeman to the position of vice president, destinations and revenue management. The new role will see Freeman take responsibility for the cruise line’s itinerary development, as well as its shore excursion portfolio. Freeman will be based out of the line’s Miami office and work with teams in both Miami and Oslo, Norway. He has held roles in management, itinerary development and marketing for cruise lines such as Hurtigruten, The World, Royal Caribbean, Azamara, and most recently the Ritz Carlton Yacht Collection.

Also this week Sea Cloud Cruises promoted Kathryn Whittaker to captain of the Sea Cloud II, making her the first female Canadian captain of a passenger cruise ship, as well as the first female captain in Sea Cloud’s fleet. Whittaker did most of her maritime training privately, achieving her certifications by passing the required exams through Canadian maritime schools, Sea Cloud said. She has served five years as captain of Bytown Brigantine’s STV FAIR JEANNE, as well as on small passenger sailing vessels in the British Virgin Islands, where she held various positions including chef, first mate and training captain. She then held the position of Chief Officer for 2 years with Canadian Sailing Expeditions.

In other supplier news, this week air medical transport and crisis response company Medjet named Laura Heidt its new travel agency sales director. Heidt, who most recently managed all regional sales for Travelex Insurance Services in the southeastern United States, will spearhead select travel agency sales for the company, including its Virtuoso consortia agency relationships. 

Global destination and event management company Pacific World made two appointments this week, of Los Angeles-based  Cherryl Brazier and Miami-based Patricia Perez-Sahin as sales directors for the United States. Brazier and Perez-Sahin will work with Chicago-based Ruby Serra, Pacific World’s director of sales, to continue to expand growth in the U.S. market.

In hotel news, this week Highgate, a real estate investment and hospitality management company, appointed Cheryl Williams as regional vice president of sales and marketing in Hawaii. Williams will oversee Highgate’s expanding portfolio of properties in the destination. Previously, Williams has been the general manager of The Royal Hawaiian in Waikiki and the vice president of sales and marketing for Starwood Hotels & Resorts in Hawaii and French Polynesia

Finally, in air travel news this week, American Airlines promoted Julie Rath from managing director - service recovery to vice president - customer planning. She will report to Kerry Philipovitch, senior vice president - customer experience, and succeed Tim Lindermann, who announced his retirement earlier this year. In this role, Rath will oversee American’s teams supporting both customers and frontline team members, including customer planning and analysis and customer experience planning, as well as American’s training, premium customer services and service recovery teams.

Also this week, Delta promoted Joe Esposito from vice president - network planning - Americas to senior vice president - network planning, effective July 1. The airline’s current SVP - network planning, Bob Cortelyou, is retiring on that date. In the new role, Esposito will report directly to Delta President Glen Hauenstein.

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