In Europe, Featured, HSMAI, News items

The European HSMAI Awards took place in Amsterdam last Tuesday evening, marked by a great atmosphere, dancing guests, excellent entertainment, food, beverages and, but not least, top notch winners – and now the Top 20 the list is also official!

We have new criteria this year, recognizing the entire specter of commercial leaders from the whole industry, which will go hand in hand with our new initiatives – Winning for Customers – The Service Pledge and The HSMAI Day.

The entertainment was provided by NeedMusic and the highly popular Norwegian singer/songwriter Alejandro Fuentes, clearly contributing to the high spirits throughout the night.

The list will “live” the whole year through, and you will meet several of the Top 20 winners at The HSMAI Day, taking place in the city they are based in during the fall – or in London in September, at The HSMAI Day there. They will be invited to share some of their experiences as leaders. Both success stories and what has been less successful. They will also share experiences about how their leadership style developed over the years.

Here are the criteria:

The HSMAI Region Europe Awards 2017 will recognize the people deserving to be awarded for their great work in Hospitality, travel, and tourism this year. Join us to celebrate the Europe’s Top 20 Extraordinary minds and contributors to the industry of Commercial & Revenue Optimization Leaders.

The hospitality and travel industry requires creative thinkers, innovators and team players. The HSMAI Region Europe Top 20 honors these top achievers in leadership, sales, marketing, and revenue optimization of hospitality, travel and tourism organisations for their accomplishments. HSMAI Region Europe recognizes leaders that are high achievers who stand out through their creativity and innovation, cutting-edge programs, triumph in challenging situations that result in dramatic gains. The people nominated for this list have also made incredible contributions to the industry as a whole, not just the companies they are representing.

The hospitality and travel industry requires creative thinkers and innovators. The HSMAI Region Europe Top 20 honors these top achievers in hospitality, travel, and the tourism industry for their accomplishments. The people nominated for this list have also made incredible contributions to the industry as a whole, not just the companies they represent, says HSMAI Region Europe President and CEO Ingunn Hofseth.

And here they are:

HSMAI Region Europe Top 20 2017


Sally Balcombe

Chief Executive, Visit Britain

Sally has a long history in the travel and hospitality field, with significant online and multi-channel experience. With expertise in building and leading multi-geographic teams across the commercial and marketing disciplines, Sally has an impressive track record of success in her career with companies such as Opodo, Travelport, Tui Travel and British Airways Holidays. As CEO of Visit Britain since 2014, Sally is responsible for building England’s tourism product, raising Britain’s profile worldwide, increasing the value and volume of tourism exports and developing England’s and Britain’s visitor economy. She and her team work with a wide array of partners across abritsin and the world to drive success.

Under Sally’s leadership, visits to Britain increased 6.2% in 2017, with spending up 11.6%; representing new records and the fastest rate of visits growth since 2006 and the fastest rate of spending growth since 2013. The forecast for 2018 is for visits to increase 4.4% with a spending increase of 6.8%.

In addition, with Sally’s strong marketing background, in 2016/17 Visit Britain realized £20 in visitor spend for every £1 invested in marketing, with total inbound and domestic marketing generating £872M of additional visitor spend.

Under her leadership, Visit Britain has focused on digital and content, integrating their campaigns, content and PR both domestically and overseas under the banner of #OMGB Home of Amazing Moments.

In addition, global partnerships with the likes of Expedia, Flight Centre, British Airways, BBC Worldwide and the Premier League have generated £20M in cash or in-kind contributions to marketing, an increase from £12.7M in the previous year.

Sally’s highly collaborative approach, industry expertise and leadership skills make her a great candidate for this recognition.

The past few years have posed many challenges—from Brexit to currency fluctuations to terrorist incidents. As part of her role, Sally and her team attended Roundtables to give evidence on rural tourism and the implications  of Brexit for tourism, and ensures that tourism’s voice is heard. She has also brought representatives from across the industry together through the Tourism Emergency Response Group and provided a coordinated, unified,response making it clear that Britain remained open for business, and providing a coordinated impact assessment to the government.

Yvonne Sorensen Björud

Founder/CEO, Consiliandos AB

Yvonne is an international dedicated and determined CEO with a track record of successful “turnarounds” of companies in the consumer and hospitality industries. Sales and marketing experience combined with strategic conception, planning and great capability of implementation. She is a strong “people person” and communicator, creating long term working relationships with clients, customers, owners, the board, management team, employees and other business partners. The international experience includes management positions in the UK, France, Benelux and Switzerland.

At Consiliandos, Yvonne supports companies in mainly hospitality and retail to grow and become more profitable by going through processes and organization.

Augustin Cacot

Head of Customer Success and Strategic Consulting EMEA, Duetto

Augustin is at the forefront of revenue management innovation and leadership, constantly challenging the status quo and looking for better methods to optimise revenues for hotels. The applied knowledge that he accumulated whilst working as a revenue manager at hotel groups such as Principal Hotels, The Set and Louvre and the knowledge acquired working for an innovative, fast moving Saas Silicon Valley tech company has established him as a leading mind in hospitality tech, specifically in the revenue strategy domain.

His opinions and ideas are constantly sought be hoteliers looking to create a competitive advantage in their market place. He has the unique ability to analyse the prevailing characteristics of the market and identify opportunities for these hotels by distilling complex theoretical revenue management concepts in to ‘common’ language that both revenue management practitioners and software developers can digest, understand and apply.

Augustin opened the Customer Success function in EMEA for Duetto in 2014. Faced with technical differences between Europe and the USA, he managed to translate local requirements into Development requirements, enabling Duetto to roll out its biggest customer at the time without any delays.

Furthermore, during this time Augustin travelled extensively in his effort to evangelize EMEA Revenue leaders and advocate for the need for a major leap in the discipline towards more modern technologies, relevant data sets, and cultural reform within the revenue management function and more flexible pricing structures.

Perhaps the biggest achievement of Augustin is building a stellar team from the brightest minds in Hospitality and Technology. Translating the Silicon Valley Duetto rhythm to Europe was no easy challenge. Freedom and high expectations on results, combined with transparency and fairness, are the best ingredient to growth and retention.

Ralf Denke

Vice President E-Business, Deutsche Hospitality

Ralf Denke is one the most professional and passionate employees in our industry. He has the vision of using innovation and technology to make hoteliers life easier and the customer experience better and frictionless. As a leader he shares ideas and has the ability to inspire people, support young potentials and strengthen the industry as such.

Ralf Denke joined Deutsche Hospitality (former Steigenberger Hotel Group) in 2015 and since then he has worked hard to create a digital landscape within the Deutsche Hospitality. Legacy systems and old structures weren’t able to stop him from relaunching three brand web pages within the first year.

Together with his team he developed own brand apps, implemented a chain-wide digital payment strategy, a conversational booking for messenger services and created an in-house “agency” for online marketing, distribution, customer care and payment services and offers services to all participating hotels globally. With Ralf Denke the company is on the best way to become best in class for digital services within the hospitality industry.

Ralf is also a valued member of the HSMAI Region Europe Distribution Advisory Board.

Thomas Edelkamp

CEO, Romantik Hotels & Restaurants

Thomas Edelkamp has been CEO of Romantik Hotels & Restaurants since the beginning of 2015, after previously serving as Vice President Franchise Development for Accor Germany. Thomas has in-depth experience in sales and marketing. Among other things, he was responsible for the marketing of the Accor hotel brands Sofitel, Novotel and Mercure and previously structured as the sales director of the first multi-brand distribution of Accor Hotellerie Deutschland GmbH.

Edelkamp is also known in the industry for its commitment as Managing Director of Fifa Worldcup Accommodation Services GmbH, which organized nationwide the accommodation offer during the 2006 Football World Cup.

Amanda Elder

Senior Vice President Business Development, Kempinski Hotels

Amanda has a long and successful history in hospitality sales and marketing around the globe at leading companies such as Starwood, Marriott, and FHRI. At Kempinski she is responsible for all commercial areas for this noted global luxury hotel company, including marketing, branding, revenue, sales, PR, digital, distribution, and loyalty. In her short tenure at Kempinski, she has been recognized as a key part of the executive team and is the only woman to sit on the Kempinski management board.

Amanda took on the challenge of re-launching the Kempinski DISCOVERY loyalty platform, and in the few short months since that launch the program is exceeding all revenue targets. In addition she created a campaign to celebrate the 120th anniversary of Kempinski Hotels.

Amanda is also an active member of the Alliance Strategy Board of the Global Hotel Alliance, the world’s largest alliance of independent hotel brands consisting of 30+ global hotel brands with more than 600 hotels.

When Amanda came to Kempinski, there had not been anyone driving a consolidated view of the sales and marketing function for quite some time, hence the different disciplines were siloed, with disparate and uncoordinated efforts across the Kempinski global portfolio of products. In addition, operations and General Managers wielded a great deal of influence resulting in an inconsistent guest experience across the portfolio. Amanda had to use a combination of political acumen, influencing skills and in some cases true grit to gain the confidence of all stakeholders in order to drive needed organizational changes. This was recognized by her recent naming as the first woman to join the Kempinski Hotels management board.

Gino Engels

Co-founder and Chief Commercial Officer, OTA Insight 

Since co-founding OTA Insight in 2012, Gino Engels has worked to both develop the company’s portfolio of products and maintain a core focus on customer satisfaction to mirror the company’s core value, “customer comes first”. Since launching OTA Insight has grown its customer numbers and expanded its presence globally.

Gino is committed to maintaining this customer-centric approach, while continuing to provide revenue management solutions that enable accommodation providers to grow their revenues, with peace of mind.

As an example, the company success team offers 24/7 support to customers and the company continues to go from strength to strength. It has recently grown from 16,000 customers worldwide to 20,000 in over 140 countries with a global team of experts based in countries including UK, US, France, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Peru, Mexico, Singapore, Australia and India.

Each accommodation provider utilises different property management systems, benchmarking systems or revenue management systems.

In order for OTA Insight to continue to grow its platform and best meet its customers’ requirements, OTA Insight has to ensure that its solutions can work with customer’s own technology.

As a result, the company under Gino’s stewardship has developed its own comprehensive network of partners to support customers achieve greater revenue. These include world leading revenue management systems such as IDeaS and Duetto, benchmarking tools including Benchmarking Alliance and Fairmas, to name but a few.

OTA Insight offers the functionality to connect with many global partners. For example, its competitive pricing data feed seamlessly integrates with all major RMS providers. Likewise, it can integrate with all global benchmarking solutions to offer a holistic view of occupancy and RevPAR altogether.

David Etmenan

Chief Executive Officer & Owner – Novum Hospitality

David Etmenan is the Chief Executive Officer & Owner of the NOVUM Hospitality – one of the largest hotel groups in Germany. The family-managed NOVUM Hospitality looks after currently 160 hotels and more than 20,000 rooms at over 65 locations throughout Europe. Since 2004 the company is successfully expanding. When David is not devoting himself to the group’s expansion activities, he is a passionate race car driver.

It became clear to David at an early stage that he would follow in his father’s footsteps and become a hotelier. In 2000, he joined the family company just before beginning his studies in business administration at the Nordakademie. His focus was on the development of a central administration. Today, as the CEO of the Novum Group Holding, the Novum Hotels Holding and the Novum Group Hotels Holding, he is responsible for the dynamically growing group‘s strategy, finance, sales and expansion.

As a young man, David quickly learned in his business studies how to optimize the hotel of his parents in Hamburg, Germany: Accelerate booking, check-in, breakfast and bar as well as housekeeping as core disciplines and adapt them to market developments with precisely calculated costs. Sophisticated IT systems take on routine tasks, with employees concentrating on service quality at the guest.

Today, as CEO and owner of a rapidly expanding NOVUM Hospitality hotel group with 160 hotels and 20,000 rooms, David is well prepared as a visionary and pioneer for the revolutionary digitization. With the innovative hotel concept niu he sets new standards in terms of guest experience, travel technology and international development. With over 40 hotel construction projects across Europe, niu is a fast mover with a lighthouse image in the fragmented market of smart hotel brands for the millennials.

The making-of of the hotel brand, which is highly respected by investors and hotel market experts, resembles the strategy of maintaining a consumer brand in a highly creative and smart way. Guest experience on site and in the web feeling is the be-all and end-all; 360-degree communication remains the trendsetting pacemaker.

The question remains: Where does David Etmenan actually want to go? With niu – native, inspiring, unique – he and the international team are making everything new – the transformation of NOVUM Hospitality into an internationally prospering trendsetter is in full swing.

Lisa Farrar

Chief Digital Officer, Nordic Choice Hotels CEO of eBerry by Nordic Choice Hotels

Lisa Farrar has many years of experience leading digital first companies and advancing ecommerce platforms. She is now leading the digital transformation and building of a technology company within Nordic Choice Hotels. eBerry (by Nordic Choice Hotels) is a 150+ strong team focused on the mission to create the world’s best hotel guest journey. The start-up has since its inception in 2016 delivered several “firsts” in the hotel industry as well as made headways innovating using Bots and AI to deliver a seamless customer experience.

Lisa has a proven track record of managing rapidly expanding ecommerce business. Formerly Managing Director for largest OTA in Nordics and Sales Director for EMEA at a Fortune 500 Company, based in London. Responsible for large commercial negotiations, typical size $100+ m global deals. She has significant international experience and ability to work in multicultural environments.

Lisa Farrar’s specialties are building and motivating teams, growing businesses, online marketing, strategy, consulting, B2C, product strategy, product management and conversion optimisation.

Lisa is also a board member at the Maria Pihls Foundation, a non profit organization that works to promote female entrepreneurship.

Marc Fries

VP Change Management, AHM AG/ carathotels 

Marc Fries, in the heart a hotel manager, has been exploring the intersection of hotel management and technology during the last 10 years, from both sides.

Marcs areas of particular interest are gaining strategic advantages in hotel management through the use of technology, usage of automation and guest facing applications during the entire guest journey to free teams from repetitive and administrative tasks, as well as enable true personal hospitality and applying organizational methodologies of the technology industry to hospitality management, such as Agile Project management and TQM techniques, enabling rapid change and increased quality. He is also an expert in enabling new organizational forms such as remote and geographically dispersed organizations with the use of technology and freeing hotels of in-house IT infrastructure by using cloud plattforms, connecting various systems through the use of API’s.

Marc is a a hands-on leader, being able to achieve strategic goals and long-term change through coaching, personal interaction and leading by example in the day-to-day operation.

As a person, he enjoys the contrast between a highly dynamic working environment in a global context, on the edge of technological change, and the nature, remoteness and traditions of his private environment in a small remote village in the Austrian Alps.

Michael Hucho

Vice President Customer & Distribution Division, AccorHotels Deutschland GmbH

Michael Hucho (born 1970) completed a training course in hotel management at the Arabella Alpenhotel on Lake Spitzingsee, Germany, from 1988 to 1991. In 1998 he was awarded the Bavarian State Government’s Master Prize as a “Hotelmeister” (Chamber of Commerce-certified hotel manager). Before joining Accor in 2006, Michael Hucho gained extensive experience with hotel chains and in privately owned hotels. This included positions of managerial responsibility in sales, online marketing and distribution and rooms divisions. For example, from 2000 to 2006 he was responsible for 35 franchised Holiday Inn and Best Western Hotels as Online Marketing Manager.

At Accor, Michael Hucho initially took responsibility for online sales through third parties, as Director E-Distribution. Then, in 2009, he became Vice President Distribution, assuming overall responsibility for online direct marketing ( and, online partner sales with global key account responsibility and groups distribution (business and leisure groups) and voice (call centre distribution). Since January 2014 Michael Hucho has been Vice President Customer & Distribution Division Central Europe, holding responsibility for the Group’s 400+ hotels in three countries. In summer this year his management scope was enlarged on Customer Experience, Contact and Care – forming the Customer and Distribution Division for AccorHotels in Central Europe.

Michael is also a valued member of the HSMAI Region Europe Distribution Advisory Board.

Johan Kukacka

CEO, Best Western Hotels & Resorts, Scandinavia

Johan Kukacka (born 1954) has been the CEO of Best Western Sweden  since 2003, and since 2015 CEO for Best Western Hotels & Resorts (BWHR), Scandinavia.

Johan has an impressive background from the travel and hotel industry. He started off his career with the tour operator Fritidsresor/Sportsresor working in destinations abroad and at the head office in Stockholm. He was one of the founders of First Hotels where he held the position as deputy CEO and was responsible for Marketing & Advertising.

He is one of the owners of Sleeping Fox Hotel Group in Sweden, and holds positions as member of the board for several hotels as well as the purchasing group Nores AS, a major purchasing company for the hospitality industry in Norway and Sweden.

Under Johan’s leadership Best Western Hotels & Resorts has developed toa major hotel chain in Scandinavia with more than 140 privately owned and operated hotels in Sweden, Denmark and Norway. Best Western Hotels & Resorts has introduced several new brands during the past 3-4 years, and the organization in Scandinavia has been in the forefront of introducing these brands to the market, starting with the soft brand BW Premier Collection in 2015, just a couple of months after the launch.

Today BWHR in Scandinavia offers 6 different brands; Best Western, Best Western Plus, BW Premier Collection, BW Signature Collection, Sure Hotel and Sure Hotel Collection, thus being an attractive partner for all types of hotels from comfortable, value-for-money hotels to exclusive boutique hotels offering top service and a unique story.

Johan Kukacka has an unique interest in the hospitality industry, quick to pickup and adapt to new trends, always keeping the guests’ and well as the hotel owners’ needs in mind. He plays an important role in the development of Best Western Hotels & Resorts internationally being part of the European CEO team.

Bas Lemmens

CEO at (part of

With more than 18 years of experience in the travel and hospitality industry, Mr. Bas Lemmens is the Co-founder of and has served in various roles within the European hotel business including,,,, and, handling global business development accounts in addition to product acquisition and revenue management.

Bas Lemmens recently joined as the company’s new CEO to oversee the company’s strategic planning model providing hotel and revenue sourcing and grow their sales/support services to professional meeting, event and group hotel planners worldwide.

At, meeting locations combined with any hotel accommodation can be booked. You can also search for a meeting planner here if you do not want to do the organization yourself. It is part of HotelPlanner, a booking site that focuses on group travel. Hotelplanner is number 1 in the field of online group bookings that handles 900,000 group bookings every year.

Svein Arild Mevold

Country Vice President, Scandic Hotels

Nomination of Svein Arild Steen-Mevold, Managing Director and Head of Scandic Hotels Norway, in the category “Europe`s Top 20 Extraordinary contributors to the industry”: Head of Scandic Hotels Norway, Svein Arild Steen-Mevold, has lead the company successfully through the largest expansion in the Norwegian hotel history. While most large-scale change processes involve uncertainty and a dip in results, Steen-Mevold has secured better employee satisfaction and stronger financial results every year.

In addition, Steen-Mevold has taken the position as a thought leader, working to strengthen the position of the entire Norwegian hotel industry. He started out as a chef apprentice and has worked his way to the top, making him a great source of inspiration for both chefs and hotel managers across the industry. He is committed to leading the way in an industry which is rapidly changing, and he is involved in building the local communities where Scandic is present. He sits on the board of NHO (Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise, the main representative organisation for Norwegian employers) as the first ever board member representing the travel industry and he is Chairman of the Board of the Norwegian Travel Forum. He also plays an active part in industry discussions in the media, and featured in 212 articles in 2017.

In January 2018, Steen-Mevold won the prize Pathfinder of the Year at the Norwegian HSMAI awards, and Manager of the Year at Grand Travel Awards. The juries highlight his ability to create one of the largest and fastest growing hotel companies in Norway in less than four years, a development few believed was possible a couple of years back. They also point to his ability to create a great workplace for all employees, benefitting customers every day.

In 2014, Scandic Hotels acquired the Norwegian hotel chain Rica Hotels. After the acquisition, Scandic’s coverage increased from 19 to 84 hotels in Norway, becoming the second largest hotel chain in the country. Steen-Mevold was faced with the challenge of integrating the Rica and Scandic cultures in a way that would build trust and satisfaction among customers and employees.

Steen-Mevold’s approach to employee communication illustrates why he has succeeded so well as country manager. He practiced openness and closeness with his employees. He balanced motivational, honest and frequent communication, and was never afraid to talk about challenges with his team. In addition, he encouraged feedback from employees in all change processes, and regarded every success at the result of a team effort. This leadership approach nurtured employees’ trust and faith in management, and created a culture where employees are proud of their workplace and strive to create great customer experiences every day.

The annual employee survey, “VOICE”, shows a strong faith in Scandic’s leadership team. Throughout the change process, this has increased every year. The number of employees who have responded to the survey has also increased year by year, to 96 percent participation in 2017. In addition, the financial results have been impressive, and both revenue and adjusted EBITDA have increased every year, thanks to increasingly streamlined operations.

Steen-Mevold has all along focused on developing the best of Rica and of Scandic; namely people and breakfast, to offer guests the best experience. Rica had for years been renowned for Norway’s best breakfast. Scandic has succeeded in preserving and developing Norway’s ultimate breakfast, and Opinion’s annual brand survey shows that in 2016 and 2017 the Norwegian people consider Scandic to be Norway’s #1 breakfast hotel. In 2017 Scandic won the unofficial Norwegian breakfast championship.

Annelie Nässén

Executive Vice President Global Sales & Marketing and member of the SAS Group Management, SAS (Scandinavian Airlines) 

Annelie Nässén has held many leading commercial positions at SAS since 1989. She has experience from Digital and B2B sales, pricing, revenue management, distribution customer service, EGO Stores and SAS Trading Travel Retail. During her time at SAS she has managed to implement a number of changes at a rapid pace, both within the domestic and international landscape, and at the same time delivering good results.

Annelie is a focused and result oriented leader with high energy and extensive experience from driving transformation and business improvements in several top management positions both internationally and nationally in highly competitive and fast-moving industries such as retail and aviation. She always focuses on delivering long-term sustainable business results, customer value and cost-effectiveness by inspiring the team to achieve goals they never believed they could reach.

In 2016 Annelie Nässén received the award manager of the year in the Swedish Grand Travel Award. In July 2017, she was appointed Executive Vice President Global Sales & Marketing, member of SAS Group Management.

Camille Oostwegel (sr.)

Owner, Oostwegel Collection

Camille Oostwegel (1950) was born and raised in Zuid Limburg, The Netherlands. When he was young, he already had a passion for cultural history and gastronomy. After his studies at the Hoge Hotelschool Maastricht, he worked in Europe for the French Accor Group from 1972-1980.

In 1980 he returned to Limburg and started his first castle operation as an independent entrepreneur. Under his leadership, a dozen national monuments were restored with an eye for detail. The buildings were often in poor condition at the time of purchase, Oostwegel restored the buildings and gave them a new function as a hotel or restaurant. These are all located in historic castles, farmhouses and monasteries. Beautiful parks, gardens and nature reserves were created around the houses. In 2015 his son, Camille Oostwegel Jr. joined the family business and works alongside his father preparing to take over the business.

Oostwegel Collection now consists of three luxury hotels and eight restaurants in South Limburg, The Netherlands (Château Neercanne, Winselerhof, Château St.Gerlach and Kruisherenhotel Maastricht).

Tobias Ragge


Since March 2008, Tobias Ragge has been managing the second-generation, family-owned company. He joined HRS as Executive Assistant in 2004 and became Head of Marketing in 2005. Since then, he has been gradually expanding the hotel portal in an international direction, while continuing to strengthen its market position and launching new services for corporate customers. Tobias Ragge also uses innovative solutions to set new standards in the field of mobile bookings.

Tobias studied international business administration at the European Business School in Oestrich-Winkel, Germany. After successfully completing his studies and receiving his degree in business administration, he began his professional career in 2002 at Lufthansa, Europe’s leading airline. There he was involved in CRM and in the restructuring of continental traffic, as well as in the area of alliance management in Atlanta, USA.

Tobias is a well-recognized speaker at global conferences and was awarded with the Travel Manager of the year title in 2012 by the Travel Industry Club Germany. In December 2014, Tobias Ragge was recognized by the BTN Group, the leading provider of news and information serving the business travel industry, as one of the 25 most influential executives in the business travel industry of 2014.

Michael Patrick Struck

Chief Executive Officer, Managing Director & Founder, Ruby Hotels

Prior to founding Ruby Hotels, Michael Struck successfully established the hotel groups Kameha, Gold Inn and Dormero as an entrepreneur, as well as Cosmopolitan Estates, a real estate developer.

Before that, Struck was authorized signatory of the Schörghuber Holding and Managing Director of several corporations of the Schörghuber company group, one of the largest privately held conglomerates in Germany, which is active in Real Estate, Beverages, Aircraft Leasing and Hotels. Particularly, he was responsible for hotel development, real estate and the touristic business of the hotel division of the group (Arabella and ArabellaStarwood Hotels).

At the beginning of his career he worked for the Boston Consulting Group advising leading brands on marketing and distribution, and later managing restructurings, mergers and acquisitions. He completed his diploma in business studies and MBA at the University of St. Gallen (HSG), the London School of Economics (LSE) and the University of California Berkeley.

Fernando Vives

Chief commercial officer, NH Hotel Group 

With close to 20 years’ experience in the hospitality industry, Fernando leads NH Hotel Group´s global commercial team and is a member of the Management Committee.

As Chief Commercial Officer his responsibilities include sales, revenue management, trade marketing, distribution, B2B Digital Sales, business development and groups / transient Worldwide Central Reservation Offices, including customer care.He is an expert on Revenue Management, Commercial practices and distribution with experience both in the urban and resort arena and operating hotels in all continents.

Previously to NH Hotel Group Fernando occupied different positions at the Le Meridien, the Ritz in Madrid, Hesperia Hotels and Meliá Hotels International, where he spent 8 years. From Global Director of Revenue Management to Senior Commercial Director EMEA and Premium Brands, not only being responsible for top line results in the area but outbound business, the global sales force and leading the luxury sales strategy.

Fernando has entrepreneurial experience, that he applies on his daily practices. He is an entrepreneur himself, co-funding the Revenue Management & Distribution firm Xotels, ltd in 2006 and Cofounder of The Cool Food Company, F&B concepts operator such as PANELA & CO. As a passionate hotelier and mentor, he founded in 2009 the Masters Degree “Expert on Revenue Management “ at Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid, the most prestigious RM Official education in the Spanish language. He is as well associate professor at IE Business School on their MBA programs.

Philipp Weghmann

Executive Vice President – Europe, Preferred Hotels & Resorts

Philipp Weghmann drives Preferred Hotels & Resorts, a global provider of sales, marketing and distribution services to independent luxury hotels. At a time of exponential growth, Philipp is ensuring the retention of nearly 200 member properties, overseeing the strategic direction and evolution of the company in Europe, and managing a team of 35 associates based in offices across 6 cities.

Previously, Weghmann held one of the company’s top ranking regional positions as Area Managing Director of Latin America and the Caribbean, based in Miami. Over a successful three-year period, he was recognised for generating significant awareness of Preferred Hotels & Resorts and increasing the company’s portfolio of luxury hotels and resorts across the region. At this time, he was also responsible for spearheading the company’s representation of several internationally acclaimed hotel companies such as Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts in Mexico and Las Americas Hotels in South America.

Throughout his 14-year career in the hospitality industry, Weghmann has established an exemplary record for guiding independent hotel owners and operators as they pursue their sales, marketing, and development goals. Weghmann joined Preferred Hotels & Resorts in 2006 as Regional Director for the Iberian Peninsula & Mediterranean, and in less than five years in that position, he increased the region’s membership from seven to 57 members. Previously, he spent two years with HOTUSA Hotels, where he managed the group’s international business development in North America, Europe, and North Africa. After graduating from Hotel Management School The Hague in the Netherlands, Weghmann began his hospitality career in Cape Town, South Africa where he spent four years learning all facets of the industry working with The Table Bay Hotel, Horwath Tourism & Leisure Consulting, and Wine Concepts.

Currently residing in Barcelona, Cologne-born Weghmann is a true global citizen who has lived in six countries. He is fluent in German, Spanish, French, and English.

The Best in Class Winners

Best Direct Business Drive of the Year

Gold: Yasuragi

The jury says:

Substantially increasing the share of direct business and achieving less reliance on third parties is a key goal for most hospitality businesses. A coherent strategy, which is designed to achieve this goal will encompass digital design and targeted activity, effective use of CRM solutions or programmes and not least constant engagement in day-to-day contact with the guest on property.

Honourable mention: Steigenberger Hotels

Best Customer Experience of the Year

Gold: Noors Castle

The jury says:

This award includes customer service, transformation of customer journey and service recovery.

Including how key stages of the customer journey are identified, critical points and involvement, selected service development and changes with rationale, feedback loops and measurements that is consistency and quality assured.

Implementation of an integrated strategy to enhance guest experience at all stages of a customer’s journey from the start of the booking process through to their departure. This incorporates the use of appropriate and innovative technologies, targeted staff training and the redesign of operational procedures to remove friction points in as many areas as possible. The organisation must demonstrate a bold attitude to change and a willingness to constantly test.

Honourable mention: Steigenberger Hotels

Best Cultural Transformation of the Year

Gold: Quality Hotel

The jury says:

This award includes communication and recognises the company that has successfully (re-)defined their core purpose and implemented a culture and a sense of “WHY”. This unique message is also visibly translated and implemented into commercial activity and yields positive results in terms of increased revenues, guest satisfaction scores or other relevant KPIs. In relation to the quality of customer service experience and the organisation’s Service Pledge.

Best Technology Innovator of the Year 2017

The nominees:

  • Allora by AVVIO
  • Deckchair
  • Flexkeeping
  • IDeaS Revenue Solutions
  • OTA Insight & Revenue Insight
  • Triptease

Gold: Allora by Avvio

The jury says:

This award goes to the technology provider who has delivered an innovative solution to a long established challenge, provided an alternative (more efficient) solution to a current practice or introduced a solution to satisfy a recent consumer trend. The winner must have successfully deployed their solution to a large customer base who achieved demonstrable benefit as a result.

Honourable mention: IDeaS Revenue Solutions

The jury for the Best in Class Winners:

HSMAI would like to extend a warm thank you to the jury, consiting of:

Matthew Stephens, President, eHotelier
Geoff Andrew, CEO, World Hotels
Helena Egan, Co-founder & Director, Planet Egan

We will continuously provide a gallery of photos from the awards ceremony as the photographs are processed by our editorial department.

Top photo: Alejandro Fuentes and Needmusic provided excellent entertainment through the night. 

Photographer: Cindy Bakker.

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