Rob Kwortnik

Rob Kwortnik

Rob Kwortnik is the Associate Professor of Services Marketing at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration. His research focuses on consumer behaviour in service contexts, with special attention to service experience management. Rob is very familiar with our local market and numerous others around the world.

Justin Reid

Justin Reid

Justin Reid has been at Tripadvisor since 2016, during which time he has gone from looking after destinations in Europe, Middle East and Africa to being in charge of “all things media” across all of travel. Prior to this role he headed up VisitBritain’s digital offering in the run up to the 2012 Olympics and has also tried his hand at a small social media start up.

Simon Calder

Simon Calder

Simon Calder is Britain’s leading travel commentator and is known as “the man who pays his way” which means that he pays for his own travel. He began his career at Gatwick airport, where he cleaned out planes for Sir Freddie Laker and, later, frisked passengers (for a job, that is; not a hobby). Today Simon is Senior Travel Editor for The Independent.

Gareth Hetherington

Gareth Hetherington

Gareth Hetherington is Director of the Ulster University Economic Policy Centre. The Centre carries out a broad range of economic policy focused research to inform Government on key policy and strategy decisions.  The centre is currently working with Central Government on a range of projects to support businesses and the economy survive and recover from COVID.

Sarah Duignan

Sarah Duignan

Sarah left Irish shores after seven years in hotel operations and has used this experience to create a unique perspective on hotel performance, benchmarking and forecasting with STR, the world’s leading benchmarking company. As Director of Client Relationships, Sarah will give an insight into hotel performance during the pandemic.

Neil Aulton

Neil Aulton

Neil heads up the Strategy & Insights team at Tourism Ireland, monitoring the COVID-19 situation in our key markets around the world and the impact of Brexit on holidaymakers. Neil worked on the 2019 Great Britain Market Review, developing the marketing strategy for this critical market.

Naomi Waite

Naomi Waite

Naomi Waite has been Director of Marketing at Tourism Northern Ireland for eight years. Her remit is to market the destination to the domestic and Republic of Ireland markets. Naomi played an integral part in the development of the new brand – Northern Ireland – Embrace A Giant Spirit.

Frankie Whelehan

Frankie Whelehan

Frankie Whelehan founded the Choice Hotel Group in 1998, which grew to be come Ireland’s largest hotel group with twenty four hotels, in excess of four thousand bedrooms and two thousand personnel. Choice Hotel, through its own franchises operated the Clarion and Quality Hotel Groups as well as the Gibson Hotel, Carton House Hotel and The Croydon Park Hotel in London. Two successful trade sales, one recession and one pandemic later – Whelehan is now focused on his own family business, which includes Cork’s Montenotte Hotel, Dublin’s Wilder Townhouse in addition to Ireland’s largest procurement company, First Choice Purchasing.

Mark Simpson

Mark Simpson

Mark Simpson is a journalist with over 20 years’ experience and a well-known face on BBC Northern Ireland. Mark looked after our Hospitality Exchange conference with consummate ease and he will oversee the sessions, interview guests and field online questions from delegates.

Panelists

Mark Simpson will ask the panelists below to join Simon Calder in answering your questions on tourism in 2021.

Richard Collins

Richard Collins

A native of Cork, Richard has worked for Marriott in the Middle East for the last 9 years. Abu Dhabi has enjoyed the highest occupancy of any city for Marriott in 2020. Richard will save thoughts on how the city dealt with the crisis and outline reasons for hope in the future.

Brenda Morgan

Brenda Morgan

Brenda Morgan MBE has over 30 years’ experience of business development and commercial relationships in the aviation industry. A founding member and Chair of NI Tourism Alliance since 2018, Brenda has a unique insight into tourism in 2021.

John McGrillen

John McGrillen

John McGrillen took up his post as CEO of Tourism NI in 2015.  A former board member of Tourism NI, John was previously Director of Development at Belfast City Council where his responsibilities included urban development, tourism, economic and international development and the management of Belfast Waterfront and the Ulster Hall.

Niall Gibbons

Niall Gibbons

Niall Gibbons is Chief Executive of Tourism Ireland. He oversees the marketing of the island of Ireland across the world, leading a team of over 160 staff in 21 markets, whose work is underpinned by sustainable destination marketing principles. Over 11 million overseas visitors in 2019 contributed over €5.8 billion to the island economies and supported 325,000 jobs.