Tag Archives: travel industry

Tiffany.Nelson

HSMAI member profile: Tiffany Nelson

Like most industries, hospitality took a hit during the economic downturn, but the Arizona travel industry started to recover in 2010 and pumped $18.3 billion in direct travel spending into Arizona’s economy in 2011.

Helping fuel that economic engine is the Arizona chapter of the the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI). Az Business is profiling some of those HSMAI members who are driving Arizona’s economy.

Tiffany Nelson
Senior business development director
TPC Scottsdale/PGA Tour

What attracted you to the hospitality industry? “Golf is my passion and to be able to do what you love every day, I don’t ever feel like it’s work.  My office is a golf course — it doesn’t get any better than that.”

Biggest challenge: “The economy. When the economy is down, people don’t travel, which hurts our industry,but when it’s up, the industry thrives.  It’s a double edge sword being tied so directly to the economy.”

Greatest accomplishment: “Being selected amongst my peers as the hospitality sales and marketing person of the year.”

Lynn Flosi 1-2013

HSMAI member profile: Lynn M. Flosi

Like most industries, hospitality took a hit during the economic downturn, but the Arizona travel industry started to recover in 2010 and pumped $18.3 billion in direct travel spending into Arizona’s economy in 2011.

Helping fuel that economic engine is the Arizona chapter of the the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI). Az Business is profiling some of those HSMAI members who are driving Arizona’s economy.

Lynn M. Flosi
Corporate sales manager
Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino

What attracted you to the hospitality industry? “All of the opportunities to assist guests and clients in creating outstanding meeting and or events. I never would have thought that I would make so many friends along the way.”

Biggest challenge: “As amazing as our destination is, sometimes it is a challenge to overcome the negative media our industry has had to face these past few years.”

Greatest accomplishment: “Being the president of the HSMAI Arizona Chapter for 2012.  It truly has been an amazing year. We were able to offer and grow our  mentorship program with the hospitality students in our collegiate chapter and we selected a new charity of the year.  The partnerships that were developed in our chapter this past year have been so rewarding and making a difference for all who are involved.”

mesa - new ceo and president

Mesa CVB Names New CEO

The Mesa Convention & Visitors Bureau (Mesa CVB) along with their board of directors has named Marc Garcia president and chief executive officer. The announcement comes after a six-month absence in the position following the passing of Robert Brinton last October.

“We welcome Mr. Garcia to Mesa and are excited to have him lead us into the next era of tourism,” said Gary Levine, board chair for the Mesa CVB. “His leadership style and knowledge of the Greater Phoenix marketplace are in line with our vision for tourism growth as our community works to further Mesa’s reputation as a leading destination in the Southwest.”

Garcia comes to Mesa after serving 15 years at the Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau. Garcia most recently held the position of vice president of visitor marketing and community development where he oversaw the Travel Industry Sales, Convention Services & Housing, Government Affairs and Sports Sales departments. During Garcia’s tenure he helped lead the Phoenix bureau’s sales and service efforts for high-profile national events including Super Bowl XLII, NBA All-Star Weekend 2009, WrestleMania XXVI and 2011 MLB All Star Summer. Garcia also served as the former executive director of the Greater Phoenix Multi-Cultural and Arts Foundation within the bureau. Garcia was a key leader in the advocacy effort that led to the expansion of the Phoenix Civic Plaza Convention Center and most recently he booked more than 67,000 room nights for youth/amateur sports events in the last fiscal year.

“Mr. Garcia has a proven track record of performance all developed within Phoenix’s regional tourism sector,” said City of Mesa Economic Development Director William Jabjiniak. “We are confident Marc is the right choice for Mesa as we continue our efforts to build an in-demand destination through key projects.”

Mesa is setting a fast pace as the leading destination marketing entity in the East Valley with continued growth taking place at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, new higher education developments within the city’s downtown core, and signature visitor products about to take hold including the Metro light rail expansion and the Chicago Cubs stadium development. Garcia is a graduate of Pitzer College with a bachelor’s of arts degree in political studies. Garcia, an Arizona native, will begin his employment at the Mesa Convention & Visitors Bureau on June 11.

You can find out more about the Mesa Convention & Visitors Bureau at mesachamberofcommerce.org.

Spirit of Enterprise

ASU Honors Small Businesses

Five small businesses were recognized at the 14th annual Spirit of Enterprise Awards, presented by the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.

The awards are given out to small businesses that exemplify the best in ethics, energy and excellence in entrepreneurship.

“Finding a niche and starting a business is a daunting task,” says Gary Naumann, director of the Spirit of Enterprise Center W.P. Carey. “Growing and sustaining that business — and coming up with innovations to keep it competitive — is an even greater challenge. The common thread among our 2010 winners is that they all had the tenacity to make the critical adjustments needed to power through to the next level.”

The winners are:

Overcoming Adversity Award: Arizona Air Boutique

The company started as a home-based balloon bouquet business, then diversified its offerings to become one of the largest helium distributors in Phoenix, and one of the largest nonflammable gas distributors in Arizona.

Emerging Entrepreneur Award: China Mist Brands

China Mist is the first tea company to offer fresh-brewed iced green, flavored, Fair Trade, organic and herbal teas to food service companies. A co-founder is working toward a sustainability degree to influence all of the company’s offerings.

Spirit of Enterprise Entrepreneurial Leadership Award: Elontec

Elontec specializes in technology, telecommunications and commercial relocation. It has a 99 percent customer satisfaction rate, extensive community involvement and a track record that includes tripling its gross revenues in one year.

Spirit of Enterprise Survivor/Innovator Award: International Cruise and Excursions

International Cruise and Excursions changed the landscape of the travel industry with its “barter-for-travel” initiative, offering cruises in exchange for timeshares, airline miles, credit card loyalty points and other alternative currencies. It is now among the top five cruise providers in the world.

Gary L. Trujillo Minority Enterprise Award: Maintenance Mart

This is a family-owned janitorial and facility supply service with a heavy emphasis on recycling and the use of environmentally friendly products. The minority-owned business also has a very high employee retention rate and a focus on maintaining long-term customer relationships.

The awards ceremony was held at the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa.

ATA Profile: Jim Prueter, Senior Vice President of AAA Arizona

Jim Prueter
Senior Vice President, AAA Arizona
www.aaaaz.com

As senior vice president of AAA Arizona, Jim Prueter is part of a company that provides automotive, insurance and travel services to nearly 800,000 Arizona members. He’s no stranger to AAA, having worked as vice president of AAA Mid Atlantic in Philadelphia, and as executive vice president of AAA Chicago Motor Club. But he didn’t get his first taste of the travel industry side of the company until 1998, when he arrived in Arizona.

In his current post, he is responsible for heading up the largest leisure travel agency in Arizona, AAA Travel Agency. In addition, he is the publisher of AAA’s member magazine, Highroads Magazine. With a subscription of nearly half a million, the magazine is the largest in the state. In his various professional affiliations and as current chair of Arizona Tourism Alliance’s board of directors, Prueter recognizes the importance of tourism advocacy efforts.

“It is vitally important that the Arizona travel industry has a voice that is heard by our elected officials, the business community at large and the public. Tourism has a huge economic impact on our state, that is largely unknown, that must be heard,” Prueter says.

The ATA, Prueter says, is a driving force in spreading the message about the enormous impact the travel industry has on the state’s economy.

“The ATA serves as a catalyst and voice for the Arizona tourism industry dedicated to providing advocacy and generating awareness of the industry by providing education and leadership to the industry,” says Prueter. “Over 37 million domestic and international overnight travelers visited our state in 2008, spending some $18.5 billion. That equates to more than $51 million pumped directly into our economy every day. It is the only industry that brings prosperity to all 15 Arizona counties.”

He adds that taxes paid by visitors have a direct and measurable benefit on Arizonans, generating $2.6 billion in local, state and federal tax revenues in 2008.

“The point is, out-of-state visitors spend money that benefits businesses far beyond traditional travel entities. The purchases travelers to Arizona make generate taxes that create tax revenue that fund jobs and public programs, such as police, firefighters, teachers, road projects and convention centers,” Prueter says.

The dismal economy certainly put a strain on the industry, as did the faltering state budget and bad press regarding corporate meetings (Meetings account for more than 70 percent of resort revenues in the state).

To counter this, Prueter encourages individuals to join organizations such as the ATA, the Arizona Hotel and Lodging Association, the Arizona Restaurant Association, local convention and visitors bureaus and other industry organizations. His goal is to continue to work with the ATA on advocating tourism to all industries. With events such as the Unity Dinner and the Governor’s Conference on Tourism, the ATA will continue its efforts on behalf of travel and tourism in Arizona.

Getting the industry back on track will take some time, but Prueter offers this advice: “Don’t sit on the sidelines wringing your hands … Let them know what the economic impact of the Arizona tourism industry means to their business and the positive impacts travel has to the benefit of all Arizonans.”


Arizona Business Magazine

February 2010

ATA Profile: Deborah Ostreicher, Deputy Aviation Director At Sky Harbor International Airport

Deborah Ostreicher
Deputy Aviation Director, Sky Harbor International Airport
www.skyharbor.com

As deputy aviation director of Sky Harbor International Airport, Deborah Ostreicher has a hands-on grasp of the travel industry. A typical day at the airport includes more than 1,200 aircrafts arriving and departing and more than 100,000 passengers coming and going. It’s no surprise that Sky Harbor is one of the 10 busiest airports in the world and has a $90 million daily economic impact.

Ostreicher’s professional background is in international business and marketing. She lived in Europe and the Middle East for about 10 years before coming to Phoenix. Although the travel industry always interested her, it wasn’t until 1996 that she became a travel professional. She joined Sky Harbor as the air service development manager, working to recruit airlines to Phoenix. The industry has certainly seen its share of changes since Ostreicher entered the scene.

“When I joined the industry, it was booming like crazy. With the economic downturn and post 9/11 era, things are certainly slower; and so is the cash flow that was once available for promotions and marketing,” Ostreicher says.

Yet Ostreicher sees her roles at Sky Harbor and as an executive committee member of the Arizona Tourism Alliance’s board of directors going hand in hand.

“As the area’s main airport and one of the largest in the entire Western region of the U.S., our role is to provide data and support to the efforts of the alliance,” she says. “Working together is critical, since a huge number of tourists come to Arizona by air and a large part of the airport’s business is the leisure market.”

Sky Harbor was not immune to the detrimental economic climate. Yet, the airport fared better than many others across the country.

“There has been an overall decrease (in passengers) of about 10 percent in 2009, but this is significantly better than many airports across the country. It’s important to keep in perspective that, rather than about 100,000 passengers a day, now we have about 90,000 per day,” Ostreicher says.

The demanding pace of keeping up with security changes, coupled with economic difficulties, is an ongoing challenge for the airport. Yet, it’s a challenge that Ostreicher is confident Sky Harbor can and will overcome. The recently announced Sky Train is one major project in the pipeline that is sure to bring growth and development to the airport.

“The Sky Train is by far the biggest project that will serve tourists, as well as the local community,” she says. “This will be ready for use by 2013, making it much easier for people to travel to, through and from the airport well into the future.”

Ostreicher recognizes the need to advocate the long-term benefits that a strong and vital tourism industry will have on the state. Though things may be difficult now, she says it’s still wise to invest in an industry that will be integral in Arizona’s economic recovery.

“The demand for tourism and air travel will undoubtedly bounce back,” she says. “But we can’t wait for that to happen to construct services necessary to serve this rebound. We have to do it now; and if you come to Sky Harbor, you’ll see that at America’s Friendliest Airport we are working to serve not only today’s customers, but tomorrow’s.”


Arizona Business Magazine

February 2010

Loren Siekman

Travel Company Sells Self-Guided Cycling And Hiking Tours Throughout Europe

Loren Siekman
Discover France Adventures
Title: Founder and general manager
Est.: 1994 | www.discoverfrance.com

If trekking through the countryside of France is your idea of a dream vacation, then Discover France Adventures is your ticket to a satisfying holiday.

Discover France Adventures, based in Scottsdale, is an adventure travel company that sells self-guided cycling and hiking tours throughout France and Europe. Discover France caters to clients who are seeking a more challenging experience. Not only do self-guided tours allow for more hands-on sightseeing, the price is often half the cost of guided tours.

The company got its start when founder Loren Siekman moved to Paris. Siekman received his bachelor’s degree in construction management from Arizona State University and worked for four years at an engineering/construction company before quitting and moving to the City of Lights. There he met his future wife, Florence.

“Bottom line — boy quits job and travels around the world, lands in Paris. Gets a job, works, and meets girl. Boy and girl decide life is better together and move back to the USA and start a business based on mutual interests,” Siekman says.

The couple purchased a travel agency in Tempe, and in 1994 switched gears to focus only on the adventure travel market. Launching a business in a market that was largely unknown in the United States was a risk, but one that has ultimately paid off for the entrepreneur.

“I am an adventurer and traveler, as well as a competitive cyclist, so my business is all about my passions,” Siekman says.

The company has six employees and two offices in the U.S. and France. Surviving tough times despite factors that are out of his control (terrorism, airline failures, economic downturn, etc.) has strengthened the company.

“After 15 years, we have seen so many businesses in the travel industry come and go … our longevity is starting to speak much louder about our operation,” Siekman says.

Wise business decisions and smart planning have also kept them ahead. The Siekmans sought the help of a family member to co-sign on a Small Business Administration loan to get the business started, but paid the loan off as soon as they could. They then began reinvesting in the company to avoid borrowing more in the future.

“We’ve always tried to have a diversified market base, so we have clients from different regions, different countries and different demographics. We also save our nickels and so far, have been able to draw cash in slow times,” Siekman says.

When asked about the future of Discover France Adventures, Siekman has one word: “grow.” His plans include creating a multilingual Web site that will better reach the European market, expand business in the thriving Australia and New Zealand markets and target the “baby boom demographic with more challenging trips, more multisport trips, and more adventures that are unique experiences,” Siekman says. “There is a great future for active and adventure travel. They want to feel a part of wherever they’re going instead of just passing by.”