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Who were this week's travel industry movers & shakers?

Who got a new gig this week? Check out this week’s travel industry movers & shakers.

Who got a new gig this week? Check out this week’s travel industry movers & shakers.



1. Malaysia Airlines CEO steps down

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Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB) announced that CEO and Managing Director Christoph Mueller will leave the company in September 2016, following his request to depart before the end of his three-year contract.

In ensuring continuity and an orderly succession, Mr. Mueller will serve a six-month notice period to September 2016. Following this, he has expressed his intention to the MAB Board of Directors (BOD) to remain with the airline as Non-Executive Director.

The Board has acknowledged Mr Mueller’s plan to leave ahead of time, which is due to his changing personal circumstances, and has commenced a search for a new CEO, which will encompass both internal and external potential candidates.

“We are very disappointed to lose Christoph as CEO but we fully understand his reasons and respect his need to do this.”

Tan Sri Md Nor Yusof, MAB Chairman

“On behalf of the Board, the management team and the employees, I want to thank Christoph for his immense contribution to the restructuring of Malaysia Airlines.

“Since he joined, Christoph has made a significant impact in putting the airline on the desired trajectory towards full recovery and we appreciate all his efforts.

“His hard work over the last year has seen Malaysia Airlines set on a path where there has already been encouraging progress.

“There are other significant strategic decisions already in the pipeline which Christoph has made preparations for and will manage through.”


2. Radisson Blu Plaza Sydney appoints BDM

travel industry Curtis Mohr

Radisson Blu Plaza Sydney has recently appointed Curtis Mohr to the role of Business Development Manager to lead the hotel’s meetings and events strategy as part of the new $12 million re-design.

With a diverse background in senior management within the hospitality industry, across multidisciplinary sectors including project management, business development, corporate relations and event coordination, Curtis will be responsible for the ongoing development of Radisson Blu Sydney’s conferences and events.

Curtis has nine years’ experience in hospitality that includes sales and management roles within venues including Thorn Hotel Group, Hotel Orient and Hotel LA in Brisbane.

Immediately prior to joining Radisson Blu Plaza Sydney, Curtis held the role of Sales Executive at luxury marine vessel MV Epicure on Sydney Harbour, where he was responsible for the event management and successful delivery of high-profile events, operations and contractual negotiations with clients.

Curtis is also studying for a three-year Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree at Southern Cross University to enhance his knowledge and provide greater understanding of the legislative requirements relevant to the hospitality and events industry.


3. Gate 1 Travel Australia welcomes a new GM

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Gate 1 Travel is celebrating a very successful first 18 months in Australia and is delighted to announce the appointment of Kim Erskine as General Manager.

With 20+ years experience in the travel industry, Kim brings with her a strong background in sales and customer service.

Prior to joining Gate 1, Kim was Sales & Services Manager at Captains Choice, so she appreciates the demands of group travel and shares Gate 1’s commitment to exceed traveller expectations.

“It’s exciting to join Gate 1 Travel’s Australian journey in these early days,” she said.

“We’re already 100 percent up on our targets for 2016 and the future of affordable group travel is looking very positive.

“With the launch of our own brand new MS Monarch Empress on the Danube River this month and strong growth in other regions, I know there’s never going to be a dull moment with Gate 1.”

Kim is managing the Melbourne-based reservations team and helping to spread the word about the huge range of Gate 1 Travel product that’s available throughout the world.

From escorted tours and independent packages, to river cruises and indulgent small group tours, Gate 1 Travel is helping Australian travellers see more of the world for less.


4. Centara welcomes new GM

travel industry movers

Centara has seen a great deal of positive change thus far in 2016 and with that has also brought in some new faces.

Mr. Dominique Rongé, Belgian national, is the new Area General Manager of Samui. He first joined Centara Hotels & Resorts in 2012 as the General Manager for the opening of Centara Grand Phratamnak Pattaya where he was for two years. He then was promoted to be Area General Manager responsible for Centra Avenue Hotel Pattaya and Centara Avenue Hotel for their pre-openings. Rongé has a short absence from CHR while working as the General Manager (opening team) at Keemala Phuket just before re-joining CHR.

Central Grand and Bangkok Convention Centre at CentralWorld Bangkok welcomes Mr. Eric Weber as their new General Manager. Weber is a Swiss national with over 27 years of experience in hospitality industry, having worked for various properties with the Mandarin Oriental and Hyatt – Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, Mandarin Oriental Bangkok, Grand Hyatt Dubai, Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill and Hyatt Regency Paris – Charles de Gaulle.

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Centara Ceysands Resort & Spa, Sri Lanka is pleased to welcome Mr. Riaan Drever as General Manager.  Drever is a South African national with over 19 years of experience in the hospitality industry, having worked for various properties in countries across Africa, America, Middle East and Asia within groups such as Orient Express, Fairmont, Movenpick, Jumeirah and Six Senses Soneva.

With an extensive background with Centara Hotels & Resorts, it is a pleasure to welcome Mr. Chaiphun Thongsuthum as General Manager for one of the newest properties, Centra Maris Resort Jomtien, which is just a few hours out of Bangkok. Thongsuthum has more than 32 years of experience in the hospitality industry in operations and sales and marketing. He has worked for many Centara resorts such as Centara Grand at Central Plaza Lad Prao Bangkok, Centara Hotel Hat Yai, Central Hotel Myanmar and Centara Duangtawan Hotel Chiang Mai.


5. New appointments at AccorHotels

Accor Hotels 2

AccorHotels has made new appointments in Australia, New Zealand and Fiji:

Paul Archer has been promoted to the position of Regional General Manager – North Island, New Zealand. Paul has worked with AccorHotels since 1996 and has held roles in NZ, Australia and Fiji. Since 2012, he worked as Area General Manager, HOST Hotel Portfolio and GM Novotel Auckland Ellerslie/Ibis Auckland Ellerslie. Prior to this, Paul was the General Manager delegate of Novotel Hyderabad Convention Centre in India.

Tim Dearsley has been appointed General Manager, Novotel Suva Lami Bay. Tim began his career at AccorHotels New Zealand in 2010 as General Manager at the All Seasons Hotel Christchurch. Following the devastating earthquake in 2011, this hotel was closed due to significant damage. Tim played a key role in the recovery efforts as the Hospitality Industry Liaison Manager with the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority. In 2012, Tim moved to his current role as GM, ibis Christchurch.

Sarah Baddams has been appointed to her first General Manager role at Ibis Melbourne Swanston. Sarah joined AccorHotels in July 2008 holding various revenue management roles at Pullman Albert Park and regional office, Victoria. After successfully completing the Strategic Leaders Development Program in 2013, Sarah was appointed to her current role as Operations Manager at the Novotel Melbourne on Collins Hotel.


Matt Juniper has been appointed General Manager, ibis Perth. Matt joined AccorHotels as a Casino Bar Manager in 2004 at the Sofitel Reef Hotel & Casino and while there he was promoted to F&B Manager. Matt relocated to New Zealand to work as F&B Manager at the Grand Mercure Oakridge & Spa in 2008. From there he moved to Novotel Rotorua Lakeside, and in 2011 he worked as Hotel Manager at Mercure Picton Marlborough Sounds. He commenced his first GM role at Ibis Styles Verona Mt Isa in 2013 with his most recent role – General Manager, Ibis Townsville.

Ashley Turner has been appointed General Manager, Qantas Domestic Lounges by AccorHotels from his current role as Manager F&B, Qantas Domestic & International Lounges by AccorHotels. Ashley first joined AccorHotels in 1998, holding various roles within front office across Brisbane, Surfers Paradise and Sydney. In 2008, Ashley was appointed Executive Assistant Manager, Novotel Darwin Atrium and soon progressed to the role of Hotel Manager/Caretaker at Grand Mercure Apartments Twin Waters. In 2012, Ashley took on his first GM position at Sea Temple Surfers Paradise. Ashley’s new role will be based in Sydney.

Hakin Khan has been appointed General Manager, Ibis Styles Karratha. Hakim has an extensive operational background, working within AccorHotels from March 2012 till 2015 in various room division roles. His most recent role was General Manager, Tune Hotel Melbourne which has recently joined the AccorHotels network as Ibis Melbourne Swanston.


6. CheapFlights makes first hire Down Under

Cheapflights ANZ_Nathan Graham

Following a record year in 2015 and more than 2.7 million visits across Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) in the first quarter of 2016, global flight search and travel deals platform Cheapflights is accelerating its regional growth and partner network expansion plans with the appointment of its first representative Down Under, Nathan Graham, to the role of Regional Sales Manager – ANZ.

Responsible for capitalising on existing momentum and further building the valuable local market, Graham will lead strategic marketing initiatives across the region, develop and manage partner relationships, educate stakeholders on new product developments and pave the way for future ANZ hires.

Cheapflights Global Managing Director, Andrew Shelton, said the company is excited to have a dedicated local presence and is doubling down to foster awareness and engagement in what is already Cheapflights’ fourth largest global market.


7. Senior appointment at American Express GBT

American Express Global Business Travel (“GBT”) announced the appointment of Rodolfo Elizondo as Vice President and Head of Global Business Consulting.

In this role, Mr. Elizondo will lead the Global Business Consulting Group within GBT in helping customers achieve best in class results in third party negotiations and partnerships, travel program optimisation and outsourced travel management.  He will report to Chief Global Sales Officer, Christine Ourmieres-Widener.

Mr. Elizondo brings to this role over 15 years of combined travel, hospitality and consulting experience at global companies based in the US and Mexico. For the past five years, Mr. Elizondo worked at Sabre™ in a variety of roles, including most recently as Vice President in their Consulting Division and Practice Leader for E-Commerce, Sales and Distribution, Merchandising and Customer Experience. In these roles he provided strategic and technology consulting to leading organisations around the world.  Prior to joining Sabre™, he held leadership positions in commercial distribution for Mexicana Airlines™, a corporate strategy role for the hotel group Grupo Posadas, a business development role at a digital marketing firm and also worked at McKinsey & Company as a consultant.

He has a Masters of Business Administration from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Economics from Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México.

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