World Routes 2014

The 20th World Route Development Forum

Chicago, Illinois, USA
20 – 23 September 2014

Tourism Summit Speakers

Aaron Heslehurst

News Anchor & Presenter, BBC World News

Aaron joined the BBC in February 2002. He has since covered some of the world's major news events. He currently continues covering the global credit crisis and subsequent global economic recession across all of the BBC television news outlets including; the acclaimed BBC Breakfast program, the BBC News channel and BBC World News TV.

Aaron has interviewed some of the world's biggest corporate leaders, as well as members of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Union and the World Trade Organisation

An area in which Aaron is particularly interested is the global aviation and airline industry which he covers for the BBC's Business Travel program.  He has interviewed the heads of almost every major airline in the world, including the leaders of the airline governing bodies.

After graduating from University in the USA, Aaron began his journalistic career as a news reporter for Prime Television/Seven Network in Sydney and Canberra. A landmark in the initial stage of his career was the recognition of his work and a prestigious award by the Australian National Press Club.

Following his work in Australia, Aaron was appointed European Bureau Chief in London for Paramount Picture's Real TV News and then as a senior news anchor with CNBC/NBC Nordic. Aaron's work has taken him all over the world and he has lived in several cities including Manila, San Francisco, Paris and Copenhagen.

Participating Talks and Sessions

Benito Bengzon Jr

Assistant Secretary, Philippine Department of Tourism

Mr. Bengzon completed his Bachelor’s degree in Hotel and Restaurant Administration from the University of the Philippines in 1984. From 1989 to 1992, he took up his Masters in Business Administration at the Ateneo Graduate School of Business and in 1999 graduated from the National Defense College of the Philippines with a Masters degree in National Security Administration.

Mr. Bengzon started his career with the Philippine Department of Tourism in 1986 where he was involved initially in tourism planning, product research and development. From 1993 to 1999, he headed the DOT’s Investment Promotion Unit and was tasked to promote tourism investments in country. In 1999, he was assigned to Tokyo as Tourism Attaché where he oversaw the marketing and promotions campaign of the Department for the Japanese outbound travel market. He returned to Manila in 2007 and was named Head of Team Japan. Later, he also handled the marketing teams for the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific. In 2010, he was appointed Assistant Secretary for International Tourism Promotions and designated as the spokesman of the Department. He is currently Assistant Secretary for Market Development Group and Officer in Charge of the Tourism Development Sector.

Participating Talks and Sessions

Helgi Már Björgvinsson

Senior Vice President of Marketing and Sales, Icelandair

Helgi Már Björgvinsson is the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Sales at Icelandair. Helgi Már started his career with Icelandair in 1999 as Manager Icelandair Holidays USA and later Sales Manager Western Region; before moving to London to take over as Sales and Marketing Manager for UK and Ireland.

In 2004, he moved over to Paris to assume the position of General Manager Southern Europe. Helgi became General Manager of UK & Ireland in May 2007. He graduated from the University of South Carolina, Columbia in 1994 with BS degree in Marketing and Management and holds a MBA from ESCP-EAP European School of Management in Paris.

Participating Talks and Sessions

Rafael Alberto Smith

Director of Operations, Land Side, Punta Cana International Airport

Mr. Smith is currently the Director of Operations Land Side at the Punta Cana International Airport; a private airport and the most important in the Dominican Republic receiving 57% of the entire traffic of the country.

Prior to be part of the Airport Team, Mr. Smith was the Managing Director of Operations at Cap Cana,  the largest Real State project of the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean offering 5 Start Hotels, Fine Restaurants, Golf Courses, Marina and other attractions.

Mr. Smith has 20 years of experience in management’s positions in the Hotel Industry in different countries throughout the Caribbean and South America.

Mr. Smith holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Hospitality Management from the Universidad Iberoamericana (Unibe), an MBA – UNIBE-FIU in International Business, an Advanced Hospitality Management Certification from the Cornell University.  Last but not least, in 2011 was certified by the Airport Management Professionals Accreditation Programme (AMPAP) sponsored by the Airport Council International (ACI) as an International Airport Professional (IAP) becoming part of a very exclusive elite of airport professionals around the world.

Member of the World Facilitation & Service Standing Committee (WF&SSC) of the ACI and current president of the Rotary Club chapter Punta Cana-Bavaro (Until June 2013)

Mr. Smith is an ex professional basketball player, and he enjoy playing golf, watching basketball and baseball games, and travel is his primary passion.g

Participating Talks and Sessions

Alfredo Gonzalez

Senior Vice President, Global Market Development, Brand USA

Alfredo Gonzalez is senior vice president, global market development for Brand USA, the nation's public-private partnership dedicated to increasing international visitation to the United States through marketing and promotional efforts. In this role, Alfredo is responsible for promoting the United States as a premier travel destination by developing and expanding Brand USA’s international representation network, partnerships, and programs with influential international travel and tourism leaders. Key areas of focus for Alfredo are on building Brand USA’s international representation reach to be in the markets that drive 93 percent of all in-bound travel to the United States, as well as identifying opportunities for new partnership and sales channels, marketing
programs, and sponsorships to exponentially increase the number of international travelers that visit the United States.

Alfredo joined Brand USA in April 2013 following 14 years with the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau (GFLCVB). As vice president of tourism and international business for GFLCVB, Alfredo helped shepherd record visitation and spend to Florida from international markets and led the bureau’s successful air-service development initiative, which enabled the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) to attract new carriers and an influx of international travelers from France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Colombia and Mexico. As a result of these and other efforts, he was presented the Routes Destination Marketing Award at the 2013 Route Americas conference in Cartagena, Colombia. The award recognizes the best destination marketing campaign by a tourism authority. In November 2013, the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association (HSMAI) of South Florida presented Alfredo with the prestigious Hospitality Legend of the Year award. 

Alfredo has been a passionate member of the travel industry for nearly 30 years, launching his career with the Orlando Airport Marriott in 1985. In 1989, he joined Concord Resorts as director of Latin American sales. In 1993, CFI Resorts Management asked him to establish the international sales program for its timeshare resorts. Having established a strong track record in international sales at CFI and subsequently at Palace Resorts and Bancor Leaders in Travel, Inc., Alfredo joined the Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB in 1999 as head of its international sales department. He was promoted to vice president in 2004. 

An active member of the industry, Alfredo is vice chair of VISIT FLORIDA’s International Committee and a member of the Hotel Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI).

He sits on the board of the Miami Chapter of SKAL and the advisory board of Routes International. He earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Florida. He is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese and conversational in French.

Participating Talks and Sessions

Prof John D. Kasarda

Director, Center for Air Commerce, University of North Carolina

John D. Kasarda is the leading developer of the Aerotropolis concept defining the roles of aviation and airports in shaping 21st century business location, economic development, and urban growth.  He is Kenan Distinguished Professor of Strategy and Director of the Center for Air Commerce at the University of North Carolina.  Dr. Kasarda has published more than 100 articles and ten books on aviation infrastructure, logistics, and urban development.  His latest book, Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next” (co-authored with Greg Lindsay), was featured in Time Magazine in 2011 as one of the “10 Ideas that will change the world”. 

Dr. Kasarda has offered numerous workshops on airport city and aerotropolis development, logistics infrastructure, and global supply-chain management to airports, governments and multinational firms.  He chairs the annual Airport Cities World Conference and Exhibition, and is an advisor to airports around the globe.  Dr. Kasarda obtained his B.S. and M.B.A. (with Distinction) from Cornell University and his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina.  Receiving many grants and awards from such organizations as the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, International Civil Aviation Organization, and the World Bank, he has been elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for his research on airport-driven economic development.

Participating Talks and Sessions

Angelos Loizou

Chairman of the Board of Directors, Cyprus Tourism Organisation

Angelos is a Chartered Accountant and the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation. He has recently retired from PWC in Cyprus as a member of the Management Board and the partner in charge of Hospitality and Leisure Services. He is a member and past Chairman of the board of the International Society of Hospitality Consultants (ISHC) and a fellow Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales, having wide experience on various financial consultancy matters.

He has lectured extensively both in Cyprus and abroad.  His articles on Tourism matters have been published in Cyprus and Internationally. He has served on numerous committees for the development of the Cyprus business community. He has also conducted a number of studies for the Cyprus Government and local authorities. For many years he assisted the Cyprus Hotel Association and other affiliated bodies on industry related matters. He has been a member of the Board of Pafos Chamber of Commerce for six years (1999-2005) and a member of the Board of Nicosia Tourist Development Company (2007 – 2011).

He has recently assisted the District of Pafos as the Project Manager, in their successful endeavours to be selected as the European Capital of Culture for 2017.

He is now the founder and CEO of Calmco group of companies offering corporate and compliance services.

Participating Talks and Sessions

Guy Stephenson

Chief Commercial Officer, London Gatwick Airport

Guy Stephenson was appointed in November 2010. He was previously Commercial Director of the Coach Division at National Express Ltd, prior to which he spent five years with the TUI Group as Commercial Director of Thomsonfly. In these roles he had responsibilities for pricing and revenue management, network and capacity planning, business analysis, product development and customer operations.

He has also worked in investment banking, where he advised mainly governments and other public sector clients throughout Europe on airport and ATC privatisation and restructuring. Guy has a BA (Hons) from the University of Durham and an MBA with distinction from Imperial College London.

Participating Talks and Sessions

Nigel Mayes

Senior Vice President Consulting & Product Development, ASM World route development consultants

Nigel Mayes has over 15 years experience in Air Service Development. 

Nigel is currently Senior Vice President & Product Development at ASM he is involved in consulting projects across the global and is also responsible for the development of products at ASM. 

Nigel is now in his second “term” at ASM, previously he was leading the Routes business.  During his first term of six years at ASM, he was responsible for the delivery of many new routes for a number of airport clients including: Jet Airways, Etihad, Jetstar Airlines and Shezhen Airlines for Kuala Lumpur International Airport; Lufthansa for Rzezsow Airport and Air Asia X and PIA for London Stansted.  Nigel has worked and led on a number of Route Development Projects across the globe including Darwin Airport, London Stansted, Katowice Airport, Malaysia Airports, Perth Airport, Rzezsow Airport and Sikhuphe International Airport.

During the six years at Routes Nigel lead the commercial aspects of the business, developing the commercial revenues, industry links and building the Routes business.  He was also responsible for developing Routesonline, the online route development forum that serves the aviation community with News, Profiles and the Route Exchange.

Nigel joined ASM from Birmingham International Airport, where he held a number of positions, including being responsible for long haul aviation business development.

Participating Talks and Sessions

Mario C. Diaz

Director, City of Houston Department of Aviation

Mario C. Diaz is Director of the City of Houston Department of Aviation. He is responsible for the overall management of the Houston Airport System’s three aviation facilities: George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) and Ellington Airport (EFD) – and its more than 1,400 employees. He is one of the industry’s leading authorities in the study of future developments in commercial aviation. 

Since his arrival in 2010, Diaz has enjoyed numerous successes in regards to enhancing air service for passengers in the Houston region.   Diaz was instrumental in the effort to establish regional international flight service at Hobby Airport, a goal that will be realized in 2015. He also welcomed the first Airbus A380 aircraft to operate regularly scheduled service in Texas and played a key role in the arrival of international air carriers Turkish Airlines, Korean Air and Air China.  Scandinavian Airlines will begin Houston operations in August 2014, with a nonstop flight to Stavanger, Norway.

Prior to his appointment in 2010, Diaz was the deputy general manager for Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. He began his career in Atlanta in 1999 and was responsible for ensuring the daily operational activities of the world’s busiest airport.

His 17-year career with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey began in 1981 and included key management positions in leasing, finance, marketing, operations and properties. During this period, Diaz also served 18 months as the assistant director of the redevelopment program at John F. Kennedy Airport. He also worked at Newark Liberty International Airport and Teterboro Airport.

A native of Barranquitas, Puerto Rico, and a licensed private pilot with instrument certification, Diaz earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. He also earned a Master of Business Administration in finance from Rutgers Graduate School of Business Administration in New Jersey.

Subhash Goyal

Chairman, STIC Travel Group

Dr. Subhash Goyal, PHD, M.B.A, B.Com. (Hora Gold Medallist from Sri Ram College of Commerce) is the Chairman of STIC Travels Group, one of India’s biggest travels Group with 40 branches in all the major cities of India. Representing some of the world’s best brands like Walt Disney World, United Airlines, Philippine Airlines, Ethiopian Airline, Air China, Srilankan Airlines, Wyndham Group of Hotels, etc.

He is currently the President of the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), and has also served as IATO’s President for more than ten years.   Dr. Goyal is the Chairman of Haryana Tourism Mart and the President of The Confederation of Tourism Professionals of India. 

Dr. Goyal is the member of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Expert Committee on Tourism and is also the Chairman of ASSOCHAM’s Expert Committee on Tourism.  He is also the Chairman of the Civil Aviation & Tourism Committee of the Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ICCI). 

He is also the Advisory Board of several Govt. bodies and contributes frequently to National dailies like Hindustan Times, Economic Times, Times of India & various Travel & Trade Magazines on tourism/ aviation subjects.  Mr. Goyal is a well-known TV personality frequently appearing on STAR News, ZEE News, Aaj Tak, CNBC, CNN-IBN, NDTV, DD News for interviews/ discussions/ talks etc. 

Dr. Goyal is an author of a book entitled “Poverty Eradication & Economic Development Through Tourism” which has won him wide recognition and acclaim.

Participating Talks and Sessions

James Berresford

CEO, Visit England

James was educated at the City of London University.  His early career started in arts administration and theatre marketing before moving to countryside recreation.

He then went on to Nottinghamshire County Council as Tourism Officer and subsequently became Assistant Director of Leisure responsible for the management of various tourist attractions including Sherwood Forest.

He was appointed to the Heart of England Tourist Board as Regional Director in the East Midlands before joining the Northwest Development Agency as Regional Business Manager for Tourism.  He was subsequently appointed a Director of the Agency with oversight for Tourism and Culture

Participating Talks and Sessions

Ricky Skerritt

Minister of Tourism and International Transport, St Kitts and Nevis

Richard “Ricky” Oliver Skerritt was appointed Senator in the National Assembly and Cabinet Minister for a second term following the January 2010 elections, when he was appointed Minister of Tourism & International Transport. He served as Minister of State for Tourism, Sports & Culture since November 2004.  In February 2013, the portfolios of International Trade, Industry, Commerce & Consumer Affairs were added to his responsibilities.

He was President of the Chamber of Industry & Commerce (1994 – 1996) and its first Executive Director (1983 – 1990).  He helped attract the cruise industry, a leading economic sub-sector, on a scheduled basis for the first time in 1990, and doubled airlift into St. Kitts since 2006.

He spearheaded the transformation of Warner Park Stadium in 2006 and Jubilee Track & Field Stadium in 2008. The Federation has since hosted the ICC Cricket World Cup, CARIFTA Games, and CGA Caribbean Golf Championships. He is currently leading the financial turnaround of SCASPA.

In October 2010, he was elected Chairman of the CTO (2010-2012) and is the Caribbean’s longest-serving Minister of Tourism.

He holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of the Virgin Islands, and a M.Sc. Degree from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.

Participating Talks and Sessions

Amit Rikhy

Senior Vice President, Corporate Development and Asset Management, Airports Worldwide Inc

Amit Rikhy is Senior Vice President for Airports Worldwide, the OMERS platform for airport investment and management. As a key member of the executive management team, Mr. Rikhy is responsible for leading and executing the Company’s asset management, public private partnership (PPP), business development and acquisition efforts. He serves as a director on the Boards of a number of Airports Worldwide’s portfolio airport companies.

Prior to joining Airports Worldwide, Mr. Rikhy was Vice President and Head of Business Development for Vantage Airport Group. In this role, was a member of Vantage's executive management team and responsible for overseeing all aspects of airport investment, acquisitions and development (from origination to close), financing and valuation, operational integration and asset management. He also served as a director on the Boards of Vantage’s portfolio airport companies and investment vehicles.

During his 20-years of experience and leadership in the sector, Mr. Rikhy has worked with major institutional investors, lenders, airlines and commercial partners and has been responsible for successfully managing and executing numerous transactions, as well as implementing asset management strategies to drive performance and increase value

Participating Talks and Sessions

Miguel Angel Pérez

Aviation Manager, Valencia Tourism

Miguel Angel Pérez is the Aviation Manager at Valencia Tourism Foundation, responsible for cooperation with airlines and airports to increase air capacity and the demand to fulfill this capacity.

He has over 15 years experience in International Sales and Tourism, always focused on the market and achieving business results.
Under "FLY VALENCIA" programme Valencia Tourism offers full support to airlines with online and offline Marketing activities, actualized statistics, networking with local organizations and a new stream of ancillary revenues to improve the yield per passenger, by selling tourist services and offering a seemless customer experience.

Valencia Tourism was the winner of the Destination category at the Routes Europe Marketing Awards 2014 and was Highly Commended in 2013.

Participating Talks and Sessions

Adam Wu

Chief Operating Officer, China Business Network

Dr. Adam Wu is the Chief Operating Officer of the China Business Network which "brings the world to China and takes Chinese to the world". CBN is a consortium of organizations specializing in business consultancy and facilitating services for a large number of Chinese and foreign authorities, state owned enterprises, commercial companies and other organizations worldwide.

Dr. Wu has been directly involved in advising foreign tourism authorities and travel businesses, at the same time supporting Chinese official delegations, investors and business groups going to other parts of the worlds to explore investment opportunities, as well as for official visits such as supporting the Chairman of CNTA attending the Ministers Summit of UNWTO and organizing special events that caught the world attention such as the Olympic Torch Relay.

Dr. Wu jointly set up the overseas office of the China Business Network which has been focusing on developing vertical portals on the China Wide Web for specific sectors such the World Travel Online which is dedicated to the provision of the most up to date information in Chinese about travelling overseas to both the travel trade as well as millions of Chinese travellers. The “World Travel Online” has been awarded as "The Best Website for Outbound Travel from China” and also won the prestigious CTW Golden Award.

Participating Talks and Sessions

Stephanie Wear

Director of Economic and Air Service Development, Tenerife Tourism

Participating Talks and Sessions

Ndabo Khoza

CEO for Tourism, KwaZulu-Natal

Ndabo Khoza was appointed as Tourism KwaZulu-Natal’s Chief Executive Officer in 2007, having previously fulfilled the role of Chief Operating Officer with the organization.

Khoza, who was born and educated in Durban, South Africa, graduated from the University of Zululand with a B.Com (Accounting) degree. He has held several high profile positions within the public and private sectors and, prior to joining Tourism KwaZulu-Natal, held the position of Deputy Director-General in the Public Service Commission.

His experience spans a number of sectors, such as water, property and now tourism. In addition, he has previously worked for global accounting firms KMPG and Deloitte & Touche Consulting Group.

Participating Talks and Sessions

Peter Cerdá

Regional Vice President, The Americas, IATA

Peter Cerdá is the Regional Vice President in the Americas for IATA, the trade association whose 240 member airlines transport more than 84% of total air traffic. He leads a multinational team of professionals which proactively pursue IATA’s industry priorities with governmental authorities and industry stakeholders to make the air transport industry safer, more secure, efficient and profitable.

Peter possesses a wealth of senior industry experience acquired over a long and successful career in aviation. Most recently, he served as Regional Director for Safety, Operations and Infrastructure for the Americas and Atlantic until 2013.

Fluent in English and Spanish, Peter was born in Spain and received his Master’s Degree in Aeronautics and Aviation Management from Embry Riddle University and a Bachelor of Business Administration at Florida International University.

Participating Talks and Sessions

Aluizio Margarido

Commercial Director of Sao Paulo, Viracopos International Airport

Civil Engineer with a Degree from Instituto de Ensino de Engenharia Paulista  and a Physics Bachelor degree from PUC University (Pontifícia Universidade Católiga de São Paulo). He also has an MBA in finance and Risk Analysis, MBA in Business Management, also from PUC, and a course in Real Estate Businesses from FAAP (Fundação Armando Álvares Penteado).

For over 20 years Mr. Margarido has worked in civil construction, including technical, commercial and business areas. He has managed architecture, structure, infrastructure and electrical/hydraulic installations projects and contracts in civil construction. He has technical experience in tunnels, channeling streams, bridges, road works and subways, as well as planning and budgeting in mechanized tunnel projects.

In the last 12 years, Aluizio Margarido has worked in the business area of Odebrecht in Germany and in Latin American countries: Venezuela, México e Argentina.

Participating Talks and Sessions

Enrico Marchi

Chairman, Venice Marco Polo Airport.

Born in Sernaglia della Battaglia (Treviso, Italy) on April 6th, 1956.

Holds a Business Administration degree from Milan’s Bocconi University.

Starts his career as a merchant banker in 1980; together with Mr. Andrea De Vido, founded the “Finanziaria Internazionale Holding SpA”, of which they remain shareholders (90%).

Finanziaria Internazionale Holding is one of the most innovative Italian financial institutions, focusing on: corporate finance, securitisation & structured finance, private equity, and outsourcing of administrative/financial services. counts over 500 employees and among its clients it has some of the most important Italian industrial and financial Groups.

On June 1st, 2000 after 3 years as a member of the board as well as Vice President, Mr. Marchi assumes the presidency of Save S.p.A., management company of the Venice Marco Polo airport. Under Mr. Marchi’s presidency, Save has aggressively looked to expand its different lines of business through the requalification of 103 medium size Italian railway stations as well as entering the Food & Beverage and Retail segments in airports, railway stations and motorways. In few years Save has increased its Food & Beverage and Retail activities by an intensification of its presence in existing and new mobility infrastructure with over 171 outlets in Italy, Austria, Slovenia, Czech Republic, France, Russia, China and the United Arab Emirates.

In December 2009, Save closed the acquisition of 27,65% of BSCA – Charleroi Airport capital through a consortium agreement between Save at 65% and Holding Communal at 35%.

Participating Talks and Sessions

Kevin Burke

President and CEO, ACI North America

Kevin M. Burke joined Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) in January 2014 as President and Chief Executive Officer.   Prior to joining ACI-NA, Kevin served for 13 years as President and CEO of the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), growing its member programs, financial position and standing on Capitol Hill.  With more than 30 years of experience as a government relations professional, Kevin previously led government relations efforts for Food Distributors International, the American Bakers Association, and the National Association of Broadcasters.  He also worked as a legislative assistant, and later, press secretary to Representative Norm Lent (R-N.Y.).  He began his career in 1979 at the Republican National Committee and the Reagan-Bush Presidential Campaign.

Kevin also currently serves as chairman of Kids In Distressed Situations (K.I.D.S.), and sits on the board of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s National Chamber Foundation.  He is also a member of various political and trade association CEO groups in the Washington, D.C., area.  Burke received a master’s degree in public administration in 1983 from the American University in Washington, D.C.  He also holds a bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at Brockport.

Participating Talks and Sessions

Mark Conroy

Executive Advisor, Cruise Lines Internationals Association (CLIA)

Cruise industry veteran and former president of Regent Seven Seas Cruises (RSSC). As president for RSSC, Mark Conroy was responsible for the overall management of the line’s four luxury cruise ships. He currently acts as a strategic advisor to the company. Previously, Conroy was president and chief executive officer of Diamond Cruise and has served as president of both Renaissance Cruises and Commodore Cruise Line and as vice president of sales for Royal Viking Line.

He was chairman of the CLIA Executive Committee from 2002-2004 and now acts as an Executive Advisor. Conroy’s cruise industry career began in 1973 in the mailroom of Norwegian Cruise Line, while studying at the University of Miami. He graduated summa cum laude in 1975 with a bachelor’s degree in business.

Participating Talks and Sessions

Michael Bell

Consultant, Spencer Stuart

Michael is a consultant in Spencer Stuart’s Miami office and leads the firm’s Global Aviation Practice. In this capacity, Michael provides top-level executive search and board director consulting and recruitment services to a broad range of clients in the aviation sector, spanning the airline, aerospace and airport sectors. Michael has led senior-level searches for numerous aviation organizations around the globe. This work has included numerous CEO, president/COO, CFO, sales and marketing, and operations leadership assignments.  Michael is also a core member of Spencer Stuart’s Board Services Practice and has assisted numerous aviation and non-aviation sector clients in the recruitment of board directors.

Michael is a regular speaker at aviation industry conferences, having spoken at conferences across North, South and Central America, Europe and Africa. Michael has also authored several industry studies on leadership, including Crafting the Airline Leadership Team for the 21st Century, The New Breed: Profiling the Next Generation of Airline Leaders in Latin America and Crafting the Airport Leadership Team for the 21st Century.

Prior to joining Spencer Stuart, Michael spent seven years with McKinsey & Company, the leading worldwide management consulting firm, most recently as a senior engagement manager. In that role, he was responsible for developing and managing consulting relationships with client organizations. In addition to his client work, Michael was a leader in the firm’s Personal Financial Services and Organizational practice groups. Previously, Michael served for two years as executive assistant to the dean and director of administration at the Faculty of Management, University of Toronto.

Michael holds an M.B.A. and a Bachelor of Industrial Engineering degree from the University of Toronto and speaks English, French and Arabic.

Participating Talks and Sessions

Vernice J. Walkine

President and CEO, Nassau Airport Development Company

Vernice Walkine joined Vantage Airport Group in 2010 as Vice President of Marketing and Communications with Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD) in The Bahamas—a company owned by the Bahamian government and operated by Vantage. Assuming responsibility for NAD’s Commercial Operations in 2012, Walkine was named President and CEO the following year.

In this role, Walkine leads the largest airport in The Bahamas, Lynden Pindling International Airport, and recently oversaw the completion of the single largest infrastructure project ever undertaken in the history of The Bahamas: a three-phase airport terminal expansion project.

Prior to joining Vantage, Walkine was Director General of The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism. There, she led the industry to a number of firsts, including welcoming five million visitors to the islands in a single year. In 2001, she was selected by Travel Agent Magazine as one of the 100 most influential women in travel worldwide, and holds the distinction of chairing the first ever Tourism Summit of CARICOM Countries. 

With more than 30 years’ experience in tourism development and marketing, Walkine serves on a number of boards and committees, including the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association’s Executive Committee, and is co-chair of the Downtown Nassau Partnership.

Walkine holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Foreign Languages from Elmira College, Elmira, NY, and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Miami.

Participating Talks and Sessions

Julie Chase

Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer, Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau

Julie Chase is the Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau where she joined in 2012 after a decade-long stint as Tourism Director for the State of Texas.

In her role, Julie oversees the bureau’s marketing, tourism, strategic alliances, music and film initiatives promoting Austin nationally and internationally as a destination. While at the bureau, Julie has helped make Austin a top destination generating record visitation, travel spending, and award-winning innovative marketing and travel partnerships.  She also serves on the Austin Air Services Task Force, working with local business leaders to advance regional aviation transportation. 

Prior to joining the state, she served as a Public Relations Representative for the Superconducting Super Collider Laboratory in Dallas, Texas.   Julie is a graduate of Texas Tech University.

Participating Talks and Sessions

Don Welsh

President & CEO, Choose Chicago

 A seasoned tourism executive with more than 30 years of experience in the industry, Welsh serves as the President and CEO of Choose Chicago, the official destination marketing organization for Chicago. In this role Welsh is responsible for marketing Chicago to business and leisure travelers worldwide.

Since joining the organization in January 2011, Welsh has launched a brand strategy which included Chicago’s first-ever regional advertising campaign; secured additional funding that has doubled the organization’s budget and created the Chicago Sports Commission. Welsh and his marketing and tourism sales teams have significantly raised the profile of the destination overseas by opening 10 international offices.

Legislative reforms at McCormick Place, enacted in spring 2010 ultimately changing the way business is conducted at McCormick Place, will further leverage his bold vision for taking Chicago’s industry to new heights. Since the reforms have been put into place, Chicago has attracted new business and retained critical shows representing nearly $4 billion in estimated direct expenditures for the city and state for future years.

Prior to his role in Chicago, Welsh held the CEO position at the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association where he led a team of 55 and managed a budget of $14 million, while overseeing all functions of the company, including finance, sales, technology, marketing and business development.

During his tenure, Welsh significantly raised the profile of the destination. He grew hotel occupancy, increased convention bookings, and helped open more than $3 billion in new tourism-related developments—including a new airport, new stadium, doubling the size of the Indiana Convention Center, and opening the world’s largest JW Marriott.

Prior to his role in Indianapolis, Welsh held the CEO position at the Seattle Convention & Visitors Bureau, spending five years in this capacity. In Seattle, he directed a staff of 50 and a budget of $11 million. While at the helm, downtown Seattle touted a hotel occupancy rate of 75 percent.

Welsh successfully rebranded the Seattle CVB with the current brand, “Seattle, Metronatural.” He also implemented a Tourism Matters campaign to raise awareness among local citizens and elected officials about the significant impact of tourism.

Welsh has served as senior vice president for Westin Hotels at its corporate headquarters, and has also held senior leadership positions in sales and marketing for Westin Hotels and Resorts, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, the MGM Grand Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas.

Past experience also includes serving as president of the Continental Basketball Association, and executive vice president for business development at Helms Briscoe, one of the nation’s top meeting planning companies.
He serves on the Board of Trustees for the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), and is an Executive Committee member of the U.S. Travel Association’s Chairman’s Circle.

Participating Talks and Sessions