Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa has announced Richard Ross as its new vice president of sales and marketing. Ross’ responsibilities include shaping and executing all sales and marketing strategies for group and leisure markets; developing new programs to maximize opportunities and exceed revenue goals; management of the public relations and advertising initiatives of the resort; and overseeing the performance management, coaching, recruiting and selection of the sales team.
Ross brings more than 20 years of leadership success in hospitality and tourism. He was most recently with Remington Hotels, where he was vice president and director of sales and marketing. He was nominated as Sales Leader of the Year in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Bay Point Wyndham Resort in Panama City Beach, Fla., announced Gary Johnson as its new general manager. Johnson brings 34 years of experience in the hospitality industry to the role, and previously served as general manager with hotel brands including Sheraton, Embassy Suites, Hilton and Holiday Inn.
Bay Point Wyndham Resort is located in a natural setting on St. Andrews Bay and includes 319 guest rooms, including 60 golf villas, as well as tennis courts, five pools and three onsite restaurants. It has more than 40,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.
Sage Hospitality named Brandon Hendricks as its new area director of sales and marketing, overseeing two Denver properties: the Union Station hotel, slated to debut in July 2014, and Oxford Hotel. Hendricks has served as the director of sales and marketing for the St. Regis Houston and as assistant director of convention sales at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. He has also held several senior sales executive positions with Hyatt Hotels Corporation, including the Hyatt Regency Lake Las Vegas and the Grand Hyatt Atlanta.
InterContinental Hotels of San Francisco hired Peter Koehler as regional director of operations for Northern California. Koehler now manages InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Staybridge Suites in the region. Koehler has worked in the hospitality industry for more than 35 years, including with the Morgans Hotel in New York City and the Omni Hotel at Independence Park in Philadelphia.
The Board of Directors of the Puerto Rico Convention Bureau appointed Milton Segarra-Pancorbo as President and CEO of the CVB. Beginning in June, Segarra-Pancorbo will take the helm of the nonprofit organization dedicated to driving meetings and conventions to the island. Segarra-Pancorbo will oversee all aspects and operations of the bureau, including its headquarter offices in San Juan and regional hubs of New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C. Prior to assuming this position, Segarra-Pancorbo served as executive director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company and as secretary of the Department of Economic Development and Commerce, and had sales, marketing and management roles with Hilton Hotels & Resorts and Hyatt Resorts Puerto Rico. Most recently, he worked in business development within the island’s medical tourism arena.
InterContinental Hotels of San Francisco promoted Nelum Gunewardane to general manager for the iconic InterContinental Mark Hopkins in San Francisco. Gunewardane will oversee all aspects of the property and its Top of the Mark Lounge. Gunewardane brings more than 20 years of hospitality experience to the role and was recognized by the San Francisco Business Times as one of the “Most Influential Women in Business” in 2012.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Thursday approved new rules that would increase the available spectrum for air-to-ground broadband service. Current air-to-ground broadband connectivity is covered within a three-megahertz allocation, but the FCC proposal would increase that allocation to 500 megahertz. “For passengers, that should mean higher speeds and the ability to access a wider range of applications, like video,” said commissioner Ajit Pai.
After beginning his hospitality career at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, Greg Velasquez is returning to the property as its new director of marketing. In addition to marketing efforts, he will oversee the sales, revenue management, catering and reservations departments. The property has 285 guest rooms and more than 9,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. Velasquez worked as director of revenue management at the hotel a decade ago. He has subsequently served as director of sales and marketing at several luxury properties, including the St. Regis, Houston; L’Auberge de Sedona in Arizona; and, most recently, Royal Palms Resort and Spa in Phoenix.
The Chamber of Commerce in Irvine, Calif., has hired Trisha Edmonds as director of sales for the Orange County city’s official destination-marketing organization. Edmonds comes to Destination Irvine after 10 years in the hospitality industry, most recently as director of sales at the Wyndham Irvine–Orange County Airport hotel. Her duties will include promoting Irvine as a destination to meeting planners and travel buyers. destinationirvine.com
Larry Kaufman is the new director of sales and marketing for the Hyatt Palm Springs in California. The hotel has 197 guest rooms and 12,000 sq. ft. of event space, including 10 meeting rooms. Kaufman was founder and managing partner of consulting firm Hospitality & Lodging Advisors Inc. of Del Mar, Calif. He previously worked as vice president of sales for the San Diego North Convention & Visitors Bureau and as an area director of sales and marketing for (I deleted “both”) Noble House Hotels & Resorts and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. hyatt.com
The Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau has hired Brian Said as the executive director of its tourism division, a role that includes promoting the city as a destination for international and domestic group travel. For the last six years he has worked for the San Diego Tourism Authority as director of travel trade development. His experience also includes sales positions at southern California properties with The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and JC Resorts. discoverphl.com
This week, Jonathan Grella took over government relations for the U.S. Travel Association as its new senior vice president of public affairs. He was press secretary for former U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay during the politician’s tenure as House majority leader. Grella went on to work in a senior position at public-relations firm Edelman’s Washington, D.C., office; coordinate political and communications strategy for Securing America’s Future Energy/The Electrification Coalition; and, most recently, serve as director of communications for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers football team. In addition to lobbying efforts, Grella will be in charge of grassroots outreach, research and communications for the travel industry’s Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group. ustravel.org
Scheduled to open in the fall in Kansas City, Mo.’s upscale shopping district, Hotel Sorella Country Club Plaza has its first director of sales and marketing. Valencia Group of Houston named Todd Scholl to the position, whose duties include promoting the hotel’s 5,700 sq. ft. of meeting space to groups. Scholl served in a similar role at The Peabody Hotel in Little Rock, Ark., for more than six years, followed by stints at the Hyatt Regency Tulsa in Oklahoma and The Elms Resort & Spa in Kansas City. Part of the Plaza Vista mixed-use development under construction in Country Club Plaza, the new hotel will feature 132 guest rooms and 4,000 sq. ft. of restaurant and bar options, as well as a 1,800-square-foot pool terrace. It will be the second property in Valencia Group’s Hotel Sorella brand, following the same modern, boutique concept established by the company’s Hotel Sorella Citycentre in Houston. hotel-online.com
The New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau has selected a meetings-industry veteran to fill the newly created position of executive vice president starting Aug. 1. Brad Weaber, CMP, has 25 years of experience, including serving as executive vice president at both the association-management firm SmithBucklin and conference-planning company Experient. He has twice served as president of the Capital Chapter of the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), as well as on PCMA Foundation’s Board of Trustees, Las Vegas Customer Forum Board, and Starwood and Hilton hotels’ advisory boards. Weaber will serve in a strategic role, focusing on promoting New Orleans as a convention destination and developing new approaches to how the CVB works with the associations and corporations meeting in the city.
The hiring is part of a reorganization of the CVB prompted in part by the departure of Vice President of Convention Sales Nikki Nicholson Moon. She is retiring this summer after 31 years of service in order to rebuild and manage the Bay Town Inn in Bay St. Louis, Miss. The landmark was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Moon was inside the historic property at the time, and she survived the tidal surge by clinging to a tree for hours. The CVB is still conducting a nationwide search to fill her position. While Weaber will be in charge of the CVB’s meetings personnel, the vice president of convention sales will oversee day-to-day operations of the 35-member team responsible for convention sales and services. neworleanscvb.com
Visit Indy, the official promotional organization for Indianapolis, has hired Allison Versman as national sales manager. Based in the organization’s Chicago office, the Versman will focus on bringing corporate convention business to Indianapolis and selling it as a meetings destination. She previously worked for six years at event-management company Experient, first as a strategic account manager, then as a strategic sales executive focused on bringing in new clients in the Midwest, New York and Southeast. visitindy.com
Coast Hotels, which operates 40 properties in the western United States and Canada, has hired Danielle Ringler as director of sales for the northwest region. Her duties will include growing business for two Seattle-area hotels—The Roosevelt, a Coast Hotel and Coast Gateway Hotel—as well as general sales strategy and planning when it comes to the company’s corporate accounts. Ringler began her hospitality career more than 10 years ago with Coast Hotels as sales manager at the Coast Wenatchee Center Hotel in Washington state. She has since worked as a conference manager, sales director and other roles at Kimpton and Red Lion properties in the Seattle area. Coast Hotels has corporate offices in Seattle and Vancouver. coasthotels.com.
Revel has named Jim Ziereis as vice president of group sales for the Atlantic City, N.J., resort. Ziereis has more than 25 years of experience in Atlantic City’s casino industry. Most recently he served as vice president of hotel sales for Caesars Entertainment, overseeing efforts at the company’s properties in Atlantic City as well as Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Ohio. At Revel, he will work with the sales team to create and promote strategies to market the resort as a location for meetings and group business. The 1,399-room resort debuted in April 2012, featuring 160,000 sq. ft. of indoor and 90,000 sq. ft. of outdoor meeting space.
The San Diego Tourism Authority has named Barbara Greenhalgh vice president of sales for the western region. In this role, she will oversee an eight-person team responsible for selling San Diego as a destination for meetings and events to clients in the western United States, as well as handling the San Francisco Bay area market for the CVB’s Hotel Meetings Sales Division. She has worked at the authority as a regional director of sales for eight years. She is a member of Meeting Professionals International. sandiego.org
Caesars Entertainment has promoted Shelley Williams to director of sales for all the company’s properties in the northeastern United States. She will oversee 12 properties: the Bally’s, Caesars, Harrah’s and Showboat resorts in Atlantic City, N.J.; Harrah’s and Horseshow casinos and Mid-America Center convention facility in Council Bluffs, Iowa; Harrah’s Metropolis and Joliet in Illinois; Horseshoe Southern Indiana and Hammond in Indiana; and Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati, which opened in March. Together they offer a combined total of almost 350,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. Williams was previously director of resort and hotel sales for Caesars Windsor in Ontario, Canada. She is also trustee and chair elect of Meeting Professionals International Foundation’s Canada Council. cetmeetings.com
Michelle Clement has been put in charge of sales and marketing the W Dallas-Victory hotel, which features 252 guest rooms and 11,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. Clement’s 22 years of experience in the industry includes 13 years with Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide. She previously has served as director of sales and marketing for Dallas-area hotels The Westin Galleria, The Westin Stonebriar and Sheraton Stonebriar. hospitalitynet.org