AAHOA, the Asian American Hotel Owners Association, the largest hotel owners association in U.S., has a new CEO: Laura Lee Blake. She has been named the new president and CEO, effective May 16, 2022. Blake will succeed Ken Greene, who served in the role for a short time in 2021 and part of 2022.
Blake previously worked for AAHOA for nearly 10 years, from 2005 to 2014.
In April, Singapore reopened its borders to vaccinated travelers. Since then, corporate travel agency CWT said that Singapore has seen the highest peaks of business travel since early 2020, according to The Straits Times.
“Mr. Akshay Kapoor, head of sales for Asia-Pacific at CWT, said outbound bookings from Singapore are up fivefold compared with the beginning of this year, while inbound bookings are up by nearly threefold.”
The hotel technology career group is best known for putting on HITEC (Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition and Conference) trade fairs in several markets.
The trade group justified turning down the merger offer by saying the groups were mismatched. HFTP is a “global association with members from the entire hospitality spectrum” and wasn’t a comparable match with “a North American association with an advocacy focus whose constituents are primarily hotels.”
Sounds true. But HFTP also probably didn’t want to share revenue from its trade shows. Or AHLA didn’t offer enough money, because HFTP CEO Frank Wolfe is said to live up to his Wolfe surname in negotiations.
The hotel lobby ought to go after HSMAI Americas, an organization of sales, marketing, and revenue management professionals representing all segments of the hospitality industry, instead. But it won’t be cheap, either.
“Greece lifted COVID-19 restrictions on Sunday for foreign and domestic flights, its civil aviation authority said, ahead of the summer tourism season that officials hope will see revenues bouncing back from the pandemic slump” Reuters is reporting.
Nick Varney, who has led Merlin Entertainment, owner of Legoland and other attractions into one of the largest players in the attractions industry, has announced his intention to retire from the holding company he created in 1999.
Merlin was formed in 1999 following the £47m Management Buyout of Vardon Entertainments led by Nick, who subsequently became CEO of the rebranded group. Since then, Nick has grown the business from 19 attractions to a global attractions company operating 140 attractions, 23 hotels and 6 holiday villages in 24 countries and across 4 continents. During this period, it grew EBITDA from £7m to £569m pre-pandemic, the company said in the press release announcing his retirement.
The company will start a 12-month notice period during which the company board will find another CEO to lead the company, from a mix of internal and external candidates. Mark Fisher, Chief Development Officer, has also decided to retire in the same time period.
South East Asian countries are in a race to reopen all at once, with news last few days from Hong Kong, Singapore, Cambodia and more on cutting restrictions for foreign travelers. The most significant of these is Hong Kong, which has been locked down into the most stringent restrictions anywhere in the world for the last two years: it will allow non-residents to enter from May, and rules for airlines that carry infected COVID-19 patients will also be eased slightly.
For Singapore, all fully vaccinated travelers and non-fully vaccinated children aged 12 will no longer be required to take a pre-departure test or on arrival, and with no quarantine restrictions. Of course this being South East Asia, there is a confusing infographic to go along with it: