Who’s Where in Travel: New at Ovation, Travel Leaders

Hiring sign
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It’s been a week of big personnel moves at major travel agencies. Here’s what you need to know. 

Gina Gabbard
Gina Gabbard

This week Ovation Travel Group announced the appointment of Gina Gabbard to the role of senior vice president of leisure and independent advisors, a new position within Ovation. Taking on many of the duties previously held by Jack Ezon, the former president of Ovation’s leisure travel division, Gabbard will manage the resources that support Ovation’s independent advisor network, as well as leisure sales generated through the company’s business division. She hails from Tzell Travel Group, where she was most recently vice president of leisure sales and marketing. 

At Travel Leaders Network, longtime Director of Educational Services Gloria Stock Mickelson announced this week that she will be retiring. Mickelson spent over 30 years with Travel Leaders, joining the company as a manager of training and working her way up to her current role as director. Her last day will be September 28. 

Also this week travel management company Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) appointed Rachel O’Brien as its new VP and chief technology transformation officer, effective immediately. At CWT, O’Brien will run governing, reporting, measuring and budgeting across the product and technology organization. She has held digital roles with Santander UK, Pearson Technology, Penguin Group and NSC Technology. She joins most recently from Ladbrokes Coral.

In cruise news, this week Seabourn promoted Robin West to vice president, expedition operations and planning, amidst the growth of the cruise line’s expedition product, which includes the recent announcement of two new luxury expedition ships. West started at Seabourn as an expedition leader during the line’s inaugural season of four voyages aboard Seabourn Quest in Antarctica and Patagonia between November of 2013 and February of 2014. He was promoted to director in 2017. As VP, West will be responsible for overall planning and management of Seabourn’s expedition operations.

Additionally, this week Quark Expeditions expanded its global sales team in a move the cruise line said is necessary to accommodate increasing demand anticipated by the addition of two new ships. The expanded team will be led by Thomas Lennartz, vice president of sales, and Meg Murgatroyd, global partnership director. The new team will include a regional sales director for North America -- Denver-based Beth Mercier. Additionally, David Tanguay, based in Toronto, has been appointed as regional sales director for Europe, the Middle East, Africa and South America, and Christiane Bach, based in London, has been appointed as the business development manager for the UK and Germany. The line is also actively recruiting for a new regional sales director for Asia-Pacific

In destination news, this week the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) announced it has parted ways with President and CEO George Szigeti, who has held the position since 2015. The board voted unanimously to terminate Szigeti’s contract, which was originally slated to run through 2020, “without cause.” The board stressed that it was not a firing, and said Szigeti will remain on the job until October 31.

In hotel news, this week Grace Bay Resorts in Turks and Caicos named Stephanie Navatto as director of sales for the complete collection of boutique luxury resorts. Additionally, the Hotel Indigo Denver named Scott Paradine and The Loren at Pink Beach in Bermuda named Sebastien Maingourd as their new general managers.

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