NATIONAL REPORT—Hospitality industry members are taking on new roles. Here’s a look:
Marriott Vacations Adds Gustafson as EVP/Chief Brand and Digital Strategy Officer
Marriott Vacations Worldwide Corporation has named Lori Gustafson as its new EVP/chief brand and digital strategy officer.
She is also a member of the company’s executive committee. In her new role, Gustafson is responsible for the enterprise’s global brand footprint and driving growth and customer satisfaction through digital innovation.
In her most previous role, she served as SVP, global brands & digital for Wyndham Destinations, where she was responsible for driving the global brand and digital marketing strategy including the vacation club’s portfolio and the RCI exchange business since 2018. During her tenure at Wyndham Destinations, she successfully launched the new branding for both Wyndham Destinations and Panorama and was responsible for the brand transformation of the global portfolio of more than 10 brands.
Prior to her time at Wyndham Destinations, Gustafson held the role of corporate VP of digital, eCommerce and media at SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, where she was responsible for the company’s growth in brand recognition, CRM and direct revenue. Additionally, she oversaw the media distribution strategy for all 12 of SeaWorld’s U.S.-based theme parks and led the company’s digital transformation and customer experience strategy, which culminated in multimillion-dollar increases in eCommerce, the company’s leading sales channel.
Earlier in her career, she provided her digital expertise to Darden Restaurants, where she worked on enterprise initiatives for their portfolio of brands including Red Lobster, Olive Garden, The Capital Grille, LongHorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze and Seasons 52.
Cua Named VP at Peachtree Hospitality Management
Peachtree Hotel Group has named Jamey Cua VP of business development for its hotel operations and management division, Peachtree Hospitality Management (PHM).
In the newly created role, Cua is responsible for creating growth in third-party management partnerships by leveraging industry relationships and identifying new management opportunities.
Prior to joining Peachtree, he oversaw Sage Hospitality’s third-party, managed development throughout the U.S. as SVP. Previously, he served as VP of development for Marriott International, and senior director of development for Starwood Hotels & Resorts.
Oakwood Appoints Ahrens as VP of Sales in North America
Oakwood has appointed Ryan Ahrens as VP, sales – North America.
Ahrens, a longtime hospitality executive with more than 22 years of experience in sales and operations, brings a track record of success in turning around properties and preparing them for fast-growth and profitability. In her role, Ahrens will be based in Southern California and report directly to Michelle Low, global head of sales, revenue and distribution at Oakwood.
Prior to joining Oakwood, Ahrens served as senior director of operations at Jacaruso Enterprises, where she was responsible for managing revenue and overseeing sales operations for 396 hotels across the U.S. and Canada. She began her career in Houston at The Lancaster Hotel and moved around the country to take on management roles at prestigious properties, including the Omni Austin Hotel Southpark, the Mar Monte Hotel in Santa Barbara and the Adam’s Mark Hotel in Dallas (now Sheraton).
Ahrens is also a noted authority and educator in sales training and customer service. She has developed training modules and continuing education programs to help sales professionals maximize revenues, increase client engagement, and develop successful online marketing strategies to cross-sell products and services. Earlier this year, she was appointed as an advisory board member for the CX Certificate Program at the University of California, Irvine.
AAHOA Vice Chair Vinay Patel Appointed to U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board
Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross appointed Virginia hotelier and AAHOA Vice Chair Vinay Patel to a two-year term on the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board.
The board provides advice and counsel to the secretary on issues and concerns that impact the nation’s travel and tourism industry. The secretary appoints up to 32 members to the board representing companies and organizations in the travel and tourism industry from a broad range of products and services, company sizes and regions.
In addition to his role as AAHOA vice chair, Patel is the president of Fairbrook Hotels, which owns and operates 11 properties, including Marriott, IHG, Hilton, Radisson, Choice and Wyndham brands. Patel serves on the board of directors for the Virginia Hospitality and Tourism Association and is the president of the Herndon Hospitality Association. Previously, he served on the boards of directors of AHLA and the Loudoun (VA) Convention Visitors Bureau.
The Castell Project, Inc. Adds Tracy L. Prigmore to Board of Directors
Officials of Castell Project, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the careers of women professionals in the hospitality industry, has appointed Tracy L. Prigmore to its board of directors.
Prigmore expanded TLTsolutions in 2014 to create opportunities for individuals, families and entities to obtain passive income by investing in residential, multifamily and hospitality projects. The firm has a multimillion-dollar portfolio of real estate assets under management in four states.
She also began the “She Has a Deal” platform in 2019. The competition is designed to create new pathways to hotel ownership and development for women by providing education, networking and investing opportunities. Its pitch challenge creates a pipeline of women hotel owners and developers by exposing early career women to hotel ownership and development. Prior to entering real estate development, Prigmore spent 25 years as a healthcare executive and held senior leadership roles in strategic planning, business development and operations for three of the nation’s largest healthcare systems.