Ms. Woolfington holds a Bachelor's Degree from Purdue University, Indianapolis, IN in Restaurant, Hotel, Institution and Tourism Management. Prior to her appointment, Ms. Woolfington served as the hotel’s director of sales and marketing and was formerly employed as director of sales and marketing for the Crowne Plaza Indianapolis Airport. Ms. Woolfington brings over 21 years of industry experience to the Crowne Plaza Indianapolis Downtown Union Station Hotel which is currently undergoing an extensive $8 million renovation scheduled to be complete this fall.
Betsy Dukes is Dirctor of Sales and Marketing
As the hotel’s new Director of Sales and Marketing, Betsy Dukes holds a BS from Indiana University’s School of Business and resides in Indianapolis. With over 30 years of hospitality sales experience, Ms. Dukes joins Crowne Plaza Indianapolis Downtown Union Station from her most recent position as regional sales manager for General Hotels Corporation and formerly the director of sales and marketing at University Place Conference Center and Hotel in Indianapolis. Other previous positions include director of sales for Omni Severin and director of group sales for Sheraton North Hotel, all located in Indianapolis. An active member of the Indiana Chapter of Meeting Professionals for the past 20 years, Ms. Dukes is a past president of the chapter and currently serves on the board of directors as the director of strategic events.
Q Center Promotes Laura Walczynski to Sales Manager
Q Center, the largest conference center in the Midwest, today announced the promotion of Laura Walczynski to Sales Manager. Walczynski began her career at Q Center in Guest Services and Catering in 2010. Later that year, she joined the Sales and Marketing team as Telemarketer where she identified and pursued new business opportunities. Most recently, Walczynski was Executive Meeting Manager with Q Center. In her two years in this role, she has developed relationships with several new and existing clients interested in holding small meetings at Q Center. Her hard work has resulted in numerous new sales and repeat business, which has contributed to the strong sales growth at Q Center. In her new role as Sales Manager, Walczynski will serve corporate accounts in a number of industries, including manufacturing, transportation and wholesale. “Laura has proven to be a valuable member of the Sales and Marketing team at Q Center,” said Armon L. Haagen, Director of Sales and Marketing at Q Center. “We look forward to her continued success in her new role.” About Q Center For more than 40 years, Q Center (www.qcenter.com) has been one of the world's finest corporate event planning and meeting facilities and the choice of many Fortune 500 companies. The 95-acre property offers a secluded, distraction-free environment with 1,042 sleeping rooms and 150,000+ square feet of IACC-certified meeting space. Q Center is an undisputed leader in conference center technology, offering 500 Mbps Internet bandwidth, wireless and LAN set-up, a secure data center and a full-service on-site events and media team.
Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau in Rockford, Ill. Names Lindsay Arellano the New Director of Sales & Service
The Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (RACVB) announces the promotion of Lindsay Arellano to director of sales and service. In this role, Arellano will oversee the RACVB’s sales and service teams as well as continue to work with key sports events clients primarily in the soccer, softball and baseball markets. Arellano has worked at the RACVB for 12 years, serving in a variety of roles including her most recent position as senior sports sales manager where she was responsible for retaining current sports tournaments and drawing new events to the Rockford Region. As a result of her experience and knowledge of the sports events industry, Arellano was recognized with the Certified Sports Event Executive (CSEE) designation from the National Association of Sports Commissioners (NACS) in 2012. “Lindsay has a keen grasp on our business and has great relationships with our customers and stakeholders,” said RACVB President/CEO John Groh. “The tournaments and events Lindsay attracts to and retains for the Rockford Region generate millions of dollars for our community every year. She is a tremendously valuable asset to our team and community. I know she will do phenomenal job leading our sales efforts and ensuring our visitors are provided excellent customer service.” “I look forward to expanding my role to lead the sales and service teams in attracting and retaining new events in the Rockford Region. With our quality facilities and strong partnerships, we have one of the top sports markets in the country and have some exciting growth opportunities through the Reclaiming First initiative,” said Arellano. “In addition, we are also successfully tapping into the niche events marketplace, giving us the opportunity to produce an even greater economic impact from tourism.”
Joe Bocherer Hired as Experience Columbus Next VP of Sales Former White Lodging Services and Hyatt sales and marketing veteran is candidate of choice
After concluding a national search, Experience Columbus has hired Joe Bocherer as the organization’s next Vice President of Sales. In his new role, Bocherer will oversee all aspects of the convention sales, convention services, group tour sales and membership departments for Experience Columbus. Originally from Pennsylvania, Bocherer comes to Columbus having most recently served as the corporate director of sales and marketing for White Lodging Services out of Atlanta where he oversaw sales strategy for 13 full service properties. Prior to joining White Lodging Services in 2009, Bocherer spent 10 years with Global Hyatt Corporation in Atlanta working in various sales and marketing roles. His last role there was vice president of sales for the central region, overseeing 20 properties. Prior to that Bocherer served as director of sales and marketing for both the Hyatt on Capital Square and Hyatt Regency in Columbus. “Joe enjoyed his time spent in Columbus from 2001-2006 and is truly passionate about seeing the city continue to grow into a premier visitor destination,” said Brian Ross, President and CEO of Experience Columbus. “We have established an aggressive five-year aspirational plan with some equally high goals and are confident after our nationwide search that Joe is the right person to lead us in achieving them. His extensive experience in many markets and proven results show just how aggressive he is and we could not be more happy to welcome him to our team.” For more information about all Columbus has to offer, please visit www.experiencecolumbus.com or call 800-354-2657.
Fox Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau Names Mary Hirvela Marketing Communications Manager
Mary Hirvela has been named Marketing Communications Manager of the Fox Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau. Hirvela has been in the hospitality marketing and sales fields in various capacities for over eight years. “Mary’s background in media and hospitality make her an ideal fit to continue the Bureau’s marketing efforts,” commented Pam Seidl, executive director of the Bureau. “I am very honored to have the opportunity to market the beautiful Fox Cities area to our convention, sports tournament and leisure travelers, and am anxious to continue advancing the Wisconsin’s Shopping Place Brand, and creating new ideas to bring more visitors to the area,” commented Hirvela. “I also look forward to forming relationships with our many tourism partners and calling upon those relationships to initiate ideas that will have both a short and long term impact on the tourism in the area,” continued Hirvela. Visitor spending in the Fox Cities was more than $382 million in 2011. The Fox Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau estimates that this direct spending created 5,495 jobs and $125 million in income for Fox Cities Residents. The Fox Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau is an economic development organization that strengthens the Fox Cities by attracting visitors in the convention, sports and leisure markets through sales, marketing and destination development. For more information on the Fox Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau, call 800-236-6673 or visit www.foxcities.org
Katherine Lugar Named CEO of American Hotel & Lodging Association
The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) today named Katherine Lugar, executive vice president of the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), as its new President and Chief Executive Officer, effective April 17, 2013. Lugar will take over for long-time CEO Joseph A. McInerney, who announced last year that he would be stepping down. “We couldn’t be happier to have Katherine join us now as AH&LA embarks on a new mandate to become the lodging industry’s primary voice for advocacy in the nation’s capital,” said Ronald L. Vlasic, chairman of AH&LA and regional vice president of Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants. “We have asked her and she has agreed to transform AH&LA by significantly strengthening its government affairs and public relations programs. She’s superbly qualified to do so.” For the past six years, Lugar, 42, has spearheaded RILA’s public affairs efforts. During her tenure at RILA, Lugar established the association as the retail industry’s premier advocate and led a number of important legislative victories, including the reform of debit card swipe fees. Prior to joining RILA, she served as vice president, federal government relations, for Travelers Insurance. Before joining Travelers, Lugar held several posts at the National Retail Federation, ending up as vice president, legislative and political affairs. “I’m thrilled to join AH&LA at this important junction in the association’s history,” Lugar said. “The association has decided to work more closely than ever with its members and to focus on advocacy in Washington. That will require some changes and many fresh ideas. I’m eager to get to work with the association’s members and its many friends in the nation’s capital.” “Katherine is an excellent choice,” said McInerney. “She’s exactly the right person at the right time to transition the association into a strong advocate and industry voice in Washington, state capitals and with the media. Her character and integrity will take AH&LA to the next level.” “The hotel industry is experiencing strong growth and contributing substantially to the U.S. economy by opening hundreds of hotels and providing thousands of new jobs,” said Christopher J. Nassetta, president and CEO, Hilton Worldwide. “Katherine’s extensive experience with advocacy and public affairs will contribute to this expansion and allow us to build on our success in the future.” For more about AH&LA, visit www.ahla.com .
Lansing Entertainment and Public Facilities Authority Names Paul Ntoko as Vice President of Food & Beverage
LEPFA President & CEO, Scott Keith, today announced the selection of Paul Ntoko as vice president of food & beverage for Lansing Entertainment & Public Facilities Authority. LEPFA manages Lansing Center, Cooley Law School Stadium, and Lansing City Market, is the primary sponsor of Common Ground Music Festival and co-produces many other downtown community events. Ntoko will assume his new role immediately. Ntoko has, since summer, served as Interim Food & Beverage Director. Prior to that, Ntoko was LEPFA's food & beverage operations manager for more than three years. Ntoko brings almost 18 years of food & beverage experience to the position, along with much respect from staff. His past stints at both Bill Knapp’s and Applebee’s Restaurants provides LEPFA valuable private-dining experience as the non-profit management authority continues developing its food & beverage operations. Ntoko is a graduate of Lansing Community College, member of the National Restaurant Association, accreditations in ServSafe/HACCP, and Dale Carnegie Leadership Training.
Hiltons of Branson Name Melinda Burrows Executive Chef
Hiltons of Branson announced today that Melinda Burrows has been named executive chef for the Branson Convention Center, Hilton Branson Convention Center hotel, and Hilton Promenade at Branson Landing hotel. “We are very excited that Chef Melinda has joined the Hiltons of Branson family,” said Chef Nathan Read, food and beverage director, Branson Convention Center and Hiltons of Branson. “Her diverse culinary skills, expertise and passion for food as art, will certainly take our already outstanding food offerings to the next level.” After completing her initial culinary arts training in Seattle, Burrows enrolled in the Ecole de Gastronomie de Française Ritz-Escoffier in Paris, France where she spent a year studying under the best French chefs and received her Diplome de Patisserie and Diplome Cesar Ritz in1992. After returning to the U.S., she married actor Darren Burrows, whom she met while working as a food stylist on Burrows’ hit television show Northern Exposure. She was also the traveling chef for rock icons Sir Paul McCartney and Phil Collins, and personal chef to the bands Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam during their recording sessions. In 2001, Chef Burrows established Your Personal Chef, a catering business for Hollywood’s elite. Among her clientele were Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, George Clooney, Katherine Keener, Dermott Mulroney and David Fincher. Chef Burrows joined Morrison Management Specialists in 2004 as catering manager at the Motion Picture Television Fund in Woodland Hills. In September 2010, Chef Burrows answered First Lady, Michelle Obama’s initiative to reduce childhood obesity in the U.S. and adopted Fremont School in Alhambra, California through the Chefs Move to Schools program. In April 2011 Chef Burrows accepted the position of Campus Executive Chef at Wichita State University. Chef Burrows and her husband Darren are the parents of four boys, and have relocated to Branson.
New General Manager Named to Lead Kansas City's Largest Convention Hotel
Rusty Macy is the new general manager of the Kansas City Marriott Downtown. He assumes overall responsibility for the 983-room convention hotel operations and leadership of the hotel’s 600 employees. Macy brings more than 25 years of general management experience with Hyatt Hotels, including his most recent post as general manager of the 800-room Hyatt Regency DWF at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Macy is a familiar name to Kansas City travelers and meeting planners, having served two stints with Hyatt Regency Crown Center. His most recent stint was from 2002 – 2011 as general manager and he is eager to return to the city he and his family called home for more than 10 years. “Of all the great cities we have lived in throughout my career, Kansas City was at the top of our list,” he noted upon accepting the position. “What makes it so special is the people.” He counts adult children living in Kansas City and many friendships made here through the years as benefits that come with a promising position. “Family is a great draw for me at this stage of my career, but so is the opportunity to work in a hotel family with such a strong service culture,” he said. “I very much look forward to working with The Raphael Group team and our ownership group that I have known and respected for many years.” Macy credits the hotel’s ownership for its commitment to Kansas City and for its sustained investment in the hotel. “The lobby looks great,” he said. “With its new BARCENTRAL and MetropolitanKC restaurant, the reimagined lobby area has become a warm, friendly environment for meeting, conducting business and gathering.” Macy has two immediate goals: “Number one is to get to know the staff and let them get to know me,” he said. His second priority is to elevate the service and expectation level of guests. “We want every guest to come away with a great experience.”
Kohler Co. Hires Michael Belot as General Manager of Destination Kohler
Kohler Co. is delighted to announce the appointment of Michael Belot as General Manager of Destination Kohler. His responsibilities include lodging oversight of The American Club resort hotel (one of 45 five star and five diamond hotels in the world), the Inn on Woodlake (a three diamond hotel), and Riverbend (a private membership club) plus River Wildlife (a hunting/fishing club and one of the best of country gourmet dining experiences), Kohler Water Spas, Sports Core and all retail/commercial development. He will also lend his advice on the 2015 PGA Championship. Mr. Belot comes to the Kohler Co. from the PGA of America where he most recently was Director of the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club in Chicago, which was arguably the most successful tournament in the history of golf. He has been with the PGA since 2001 and was Tournament Director for the PGA Championships of 2006 and 2009. In addition, Mr. Belot served as a Consultant for Super Bowls XLV and XLVI and was pre-game talent producer for the recent Super Bowl XLVII. He holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration from the University of St. Thomas Opus College in St. Paul, MN and a Bachelors Degree from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis MN. A native of Kohler, Wisconsin, Mr. Belot will bring his leadership skills along with his wife Katie and their family back home to Kohler, Wisconsin.
First Key Position Filled at Former Clearwaters Hotel in Marshfield, Wisconsin New GM on Board at Significant Moment in Property Renovation and Rebranding
The first key position has been filled at the former Clearwaters Hotel in Marshfield, Wis. Cory Latourell was named general manager and is quickly immersing herself in the fast-track renovation and rebranding of the hotel, with the property set to reopen this summer. This full-service independent hotel located at 2700 S. Central Ave. is owned by Marshfield Hospitality, LLC, with redevelopment and management duties assigned to IDM Group, LLC, Madison, Wis. Latourell brings high-level operations and training know-how to the post, having spent the majority of her career in positions of increasing responsibility with Wyndham Hotel Group’s senior training team. She was also instrumental in new brand initiatives for 7,000+ hotels under the Wyndham brand. Most recently she was with MphasiS, an HP Company, serving as senior project manager on a property management system project for Wyndham. She holds an associate degree in Hotel Management, and is both a Certified Hospitality Administrator and Certified Hospitality Educator, designations earned through The American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute. Marshfield Hospitality is based in Marshfield, Wis. IDM Group specializes in the management of independent hotels and may be found online at www.inndevmgmt.com.
Meet Minneapolis welcomes Amy Zelenka as new National Account Executive
Meet Minneapolis, Convention and Visitors Association, is excited to announce the hiring of Amy Zelenka as new National Account Executive. She brings 10 years of experience in the meetings and hospitality industry to her new position. Zelenka most recently worked as the associate director of sales for Hilton Minneapolis/Bloomington. As associate director, Zelenka focused on developing partnerships with healthcare, medical device, pharmaceutical and health insurance industries in addition to technical, association, banking and salon care industries. Prior to this position she worked as director of sales for Staybridge Suites Houston/NASA and sales manager of Doubletree Hotel Minneapolis-Park Place. Zelenka has remained an active member of many associations and economic partnerships including- the Minneapolis Regional Chambers of Commerce, convention and visitors bureaus in Bloomington, Minn., Bay Area Houston and DuPage County, Ill., Meeting Professionals International, Southwest Aerospace Professional Representatives Association and Religious Conference Management Association, which have provided her with the knowledge to help her succeed in the hospitality industry. As national account executive, Zelenka will manage accounts in the Northeast, Southeast and South with events that include 201+ guest rooms on peak nights. Visit www.minneapolis.org for more information.