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



1. New BDM role expands Rail Plus sales team

travel industry

Rail Plus has announced an expansion of its national sales team, with the appointment of Richard McKisack to the newly-created position of Business Development Manager for New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and Western Australia.

In a travel industry career spanning almost 20 years, McKisack has held senior sales and marketing roles for a range of leading travel companies, including Nexus Holidays, Innstant Travel and KEA Campers Australia & NZ.

In his new Sydney-based role he will be responsible for providing Rail Plus’ travel agent partners with sales, marketing and training support.

Rail Plus Commercial Director Ingrid Kocijan says the creation of the new role is part of a broader restructure of the company’s national sales team, which now includes Nicki Schleibs (BDM Victoria/Tasmania/South Australia), Larry Burrows (BDM Queensland/Northern NSW/Northern Territory) and James Hooper (Key Account Manager).

“The recent integration of Rail Plus into Rail Europe’s global network provided an opportunity to review the way we engage with our travel agent partners,” says Kocijan.

“The result is a new structure that allows the Rail Plus sales team to interact more closely with frontline agents across Australia, and more effectively support the company’s current growth trajectory.”


2. Sabre Corporation promotes Sean Menke to President & CEO

travel industry

Sabre’s board of directors has appointed Sean Menke as President, CEO and a member of Sabre’s board, effective 31 December 2016.  Menke will succeed Tom Klein, who has served as president, CEO and board member since 2013.

“After an extensive search of qualified candidates, the board unanimously concluded that Sean is the right choice to lead Sabre,” Sabre Board of Directors’ Executive Chairman, Larry Kellner said.

“Since his arrival last year, Sean has demonstrated that his strong industry knowledge and expertise coupled with his decisive, results-oriented management style are an effective combination. These traits will help Sabre drive innovation as the travel industry’s technology leader and serve the needs of airlines, hotels, travel agents and travelers alike.  I look forward to working with Sean to make this happen.”

Menke joined Sabre in October 2015 and currently serves as executive vice president of Sabre and president of Sabre Travel Network, Sabre’s largest line of business.

Under Menke’s leadership, Sabre Travel Network has won major new business opportunities, increased global market share and secured Sabre’s position as the leading global distribution system in three of its four major operating regions (North America, Latin America and Asia-Pacific), and successfully extended new multi-year agreements with many of its largest global travel management companies, online travel agencies and travel retailers.

In addition, he has led the innovation that enables the sale of more customized fares and ancillary products through Sabre Travel Network and strengthened the technology solutions that will be offered to travel agencies next year as part of the launch of the new Sabre Red platform.

Prior to Sabre, Menke served as CEO of Frontier Airlines and held senior executive positions at Hawaiian Airlines and Air Canada, among other carriers.  He also served as executive vice president at IHS Services, a global technology company.

He holds an MBA from the University of Denver and a dual bachelor of science degree in economics and aviation from Ohio State University.

As announced in June, Klein will resign from Sabre on 31 December 2016.

“We are grateful for Tom’s service to Sabre and I want to recognize his many accomplishments, including his leadership to enable our successful IPO in 2014 and the impressive growth across all of our business lines since that time. His contributions will be felt for many years to come,” said Kellner.


3. David Martens appointed new GM of Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Hua Hin

travel industry

Mr.Thirayuth Chirathivat, Chief Executive Officer of Centara Hotels and Resorts has announced the transfer of Mr. David Martens, former General Manager of Centara Grand Beach Resort and Villas Krabi as the new General Manager of Centara Grand Beach Resort and Villas Hua Hin, the Group’s only member of Luxury Hotels of the World.

Mr. Martens is an Australian national. He has more than 25 years of experience working in the hospitality industry and in various countries including Maldives, Egypt, Vanuatu and Fiji. He joined Centara Hotels & Resorts in March 2012 as General Manager of Centara Grand Beach Resort and Villas Krabi.

In 2014, He was promoted as Area General Manager. While remaining located at Centara Grand Beach Resort and Villas Krabi, he also took responsibilities for the management of Centra Anda Dhevi Resort and Spa Krabi and Centra by Centara Phu Pano Resort Krabi.


4. New Head of Sales for Lufthanasa

travel industry

The Lufthansa Group has appointed Heike Birlenbach as the new Senior Vice President Sales Lufthansa Hub Airlines and Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) Hub Frankfurt. She will succeed Jens Bischof, who has been appointed to the position of Managing Director of the airline SunExpress, effective 1 January 2017. SunExpress is a joint venture between Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines.

Beginning on 1 January 2017, Heike Birlenbach will take over the global responsibility for world-wide sales for all the Lufthansa Group’s Hub airlines (Lufthansa, SWISS, Austrian Airlines) and provide support for the sales activities of Eurowings and Brussels Airlines. Functionally, Heike Birlenbach will report directly to Harry Hohmeister, the Board Member of Deutsche Lufthansa AG responsible for the network airlines. She will also direct and be responsible for all commercial matters of the Lufthansa airline at Frankfurt Airport as CCO Hub Frankfurt. In this capacity, she will report to Klaus Froese, CEO Lufthansa German Airlines Hub Frankfurt.

Harry Hohmeister said: “Heike Birlenbach is a proven sales expert who has successfully increased our sales volume in Europe’s various markets. Going forward, she will be responsible for the further development and conclusion of the sales integration of the various Hub airlines. Heike Birlenbach will also modernize the distribution landscape in cooperation with our sales partners”.

As Head of Sales for the Hub Airlines of the Lufthansa Group, Heike Birlenbach will direct all B2B sales measures around the world, for instance with corporate customers, travel agencies and travel operators. She will also expand the direct connect solutions of partners to the booking systems of the Hub Airlines and continue the development of direct sales. An additional goal of the Lufthansa Group is the establishment of a global, fully integrated, cross-brand sales organization.

Heike Birlenbach joined Lufthansa in 1990 and started to work at Frankfurt Airport. Whilst studying tourism and economics, she moved to the sales organisation in 1994 where she worked in the global key account management.

In 1999, she was appointed General Manager Marketing and Sales Support Europe, based in London. Subsequently, in 2002 she was in charge of the airline’s organisation in the Benelux countries, based in Amsterdam. Heike Birlenbach returned to Lufthansa’s headquarters in Frankfurt in 2006 as Head of Product Management for domestic and European traffic.

In 2009, she was appointed Head of Lufthansa Italia, based in Milan. Beginning in 2011, Heike Birlenbach was Head of Cabin Management in Munich, responsible for 4,500 cabin staff and their training, as well as quality of service.

In her current position as Vice President Sales Europe for the Lufthansa Group, she has been responsible for Sales and Marketing for the airlines in the Lufthansa Group in 42 countries since 2014 – with the exception of the home markets Germany, Austria and Switzerland.


5. Boost for regional tourism with appointment to regional bodies

The Tourism Industry Division of the NSW Business Chamber has described the appointment of six new Chairs of Destination Networks as a massive step forward for regional tourism across the State.

“This is good news all round and will give a big boost to regional tourism,” said Executive Manager of the Tourism Industry Division, Dean Gorddard.

“I’d particularly like to congratulate Cameron Arnold, the Chair of the North Coast Destination Network, who is on the Chamber’s own Tourism Advisory Council.

“The NSW Government should be applauded for the introduction of a skills based board for each of the Destination Networks across the State.

“The Chamber congratulates the Government on investing $43 million of funding over four years to help develop initiatives to boost the growth and dispersal of regional tourism in NSW.

“The focus on strategic destination management planning which will be coordinated under the framework of a State-wide Destination Management Plan is long overdue.

“We look forward to consulting closely with the Boards of the Destination Networks on advocating policy settings for regional tourism including providing strong recommendations for the future directions of the proposed Visitor Economy Industry Action Plan priorities,” Mr Gorddard said.

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