Who’s Where in Travel: New Travel Leaders CEO and More

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Effective immediately, Travel Leaders Group has a new CEO: J.D. O’Hara, who had been serving as the company’s president for the past year. He takes over for Ninan Chacko, who has resigned to pursue other opportunities. Prior to joining Travel Leaders, O’Hara was senior partner at the company’s owner, Certares Management, LLC. He was also part of the original management buyout of Carlson Leisure Group that eventually led to the formation of Travel Leaders, and he previously served in the investment banking industry at Lehman Brothers

In hotel and resort news, Premier Worldwide Marketing (PWM), the exclusive worldwide representative for Karisma Hotels & Resorts, promoted Marilyn Cairo to associate vice president of sales for North America. Cairo joined PWM two years ago as senior director of retail sales North America; prior to that, she was director of marketing for SMS Lodging and the managing partner of a hospitality solutions company. She also held a variety of roles at Sandals Resorts

Proper Hospitality named Blake Danner its new chief operating officer, putting him in charge of business strategy, organizational growth and day-to-day operations. He most recently served as COO for Sydell Group, helping to create hotel brands such as NoMad, The Line and Freehand. He also spent nearly a decade working with famous hotelier and developer Ian Schrager


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Kempinski Hotels, meanwhile, named Julia Massey its vice president of global sustainability. Now in charge of driving and developing a complete set of sustainable standards and initiatives for the company, she brings 14 years of experience in consulting and management in the area of sustainability and climate change.

A number of individual properties also made new leadership appointments this week: 

  • Stephanie Simmons was named director of sales at the Sheraton Hartford Hotel at Bradley Airport in Windsor Locks, CT.
  • Greg Gooding has become the new general manager of the Resort at Squaw Creek
  • The Rose Hotel Chicago O'Hare, a Tapestry Collection by Hilton appointed Michelle Marvin its director of sales and catering. 
  • Hilton named Tom Mamalis as general manager of Hilton Crystal City at Washington Reagan National Airport and Charles Hill as general manager of DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Washington DC - Crystal City.
  • Balboa Bay Resort in Newport Beach, CA, named Marina Dutton its new general manager. 

In tour operator news, Audley Travel appointed Anne-Marie Kline as head of North American marketing. One of Business Insider’s “Most Creative Women in Advertising,” Kline designed and executed a marketing transformation that led to the successful exit for Living Proof (hair care) to Unilever, and she spent 10 years at Digitas, where she built the social content practice and award-winning BrandLIVE.

In air travel news, International Airlines Group (IAG), the parent company of British Airways and Iberia, has announced the retirement of its chief executive, Willie Walsh. He will stand down from the role and from the Board of IAG on March 26 and will retire on June 30. Luis Gallego, currently Iberia chief executive, will succeed Walsh. Gallego’s successor will be announced in due course, the company said. 

Additionally, Korean Air appointed Daniel Song managing vice president and director of its Americas region, which includes Canada, the United States, Mexico and South America. Prior to this assignment, he was managing vice president of the airline’s passenger network and sales. He has spent a total of 30 years with the company in various leadership roles. 

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