Advisory board

Our advisory board is comprised of senior leaders in tour operating, events management, hotel management, air travel, restaurants and consultancy. The board informs our priority areas of education and research, and maximise our impact all over the world.

Meet the team

Niel Alobaidi

Niel Alobaidi is CEO of Newmarket Holidays, one of the largest independently owned travel companies in the UK, specialising in group escorted touring holidays for the 55+ market.

Niel has over 20 years of experience in tour operating, starting out as a graduate trainee with First Choice Holidays in 1999. Prior to joining Newmarket Holidays, Niel held a number of senior roles in travel, including Commercial Director of TUI Specialist Holidays Group in the UK, Managing Director of TUI SHG Scandinavia and Managing Director of Emirates Holidays European source markets.

Michael Ball

Michael has spent a  career in the hotel and leisure sectors having both created and operated a number of international hospitality and technology groups and served at C level for several major multi-nationals Corporations and SMEs in the UK and abroad. Upon graduating from Surrey University SH&TM, Michael joined the international hotel and tourism consultancy Horwath & Horwath and undertook a wide range of feasibility and development appraisals and projects in those sectors. He then joined Utell International an early OTA, where as Exec Vice President and later, Managing Director of the Brands Division, he founded Summit International Hotels, Insignia Resorts and Golden Tulip International. At the time of its sale to News Corporation it was one of the world’s largest hotel marketing/distribution companies and later became part of Reed Elsevier’s Travel Group and REZsolutions.

A family move to Hong Kong followed to become Group Sales and Marketing Director for Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, responsible for the global sales and marketing of what was then Asia’s largest luxury hotel group. Returning to Europe and Frankfurt, Michael was appointed CEO of SRS-WorldHotels. A series of roll up acquisitions and a private equity backed MBO followed and led to the creation of IHS GmbH. Michael served as the CEO of the IHS Group throughout, as it grew to comprise Worldhotels, a group of over 500 international independent hotels, Trust International, a global hotel distribution technology company, IFH AG, a training and performance benchmarking company Nexus World Services a corporate RFP management software company. At the point of its sale and successful exit to a US based private equity group in 2013 the IHS Group’s TTV was in excess of US$2.1BN

Now back in the UK, Michael is currently Principal of LTH Advisors, a boutique advisory focused on investment, hotel operator and franchise selection,  brand development, distribution technology and hotel management. He is also Chairman of the UK based Hotel Management Company providing consultancy and management of primarily independent UK hotels. He lives in Suffolk with his family, although he still travels extensively for work and pleasure.

Suzie Boyd

Suzie is a 1990 graduate of the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. Following her graduation, Suzie held three operational roles with contract caterers at Wembley Stadium, Chester Boyd and Sutcliffe Catering over a period of seven years. Suzie moved into recruitment in 1997 and set up her own business, Troika Recruitment with her business partners in 2010. Based in central London, Troika acts as trusted advisor to some fabulous hospitality businesses and focuses on sourcing candidates for senior managerial and director level appointments. 

Andrew Coggings

Andrew is MD of Entertaining and Hospitality at Goodwood, having joined in early 2017. He is responsible for all of the 365 businesses at Goodwood, including the hotel, House, private member’s club, luxury private lodge, motor circuit catering, event catering, golf, shoot and the farm.

He studied hotel management at Blackpool College and subsequently spent a number of years overseas running hotels in Dubai, South Africa and Malaysia. Before joining Goodwood Andrew owned a pub and restaurant business in Brighton for 10 years and was the recipient of The Most Sustainable Pub in The UK Award from The SRA.

Michael Flaxman

Michael is a graduate of Westminster Hotel School. He was appointed head of Accor’s hotel division in 1983, then chief operating officer for Northern, Central and Eastern Europe for Accor in 2006.

In 2009, Accor appointed him chief operating officer for the Americas, where he was responsible for over 1,200 Hotels throughout North and South America. In 2001, Michael was awarded the prestigious Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur by the French Government for services to France. Michael is now independent and holds a number on non-executive and consultant posts.

Fiona Jeffery OBE

After joining Reed Exhibitions in 1986, Edinburgh University graduate Fiona quickly climbed through the ranks to become exhibition director for the World Travel Market in 1994 and the British Travel Trade Fair in 1996, becoming managing director and ultimately chairman of WTM until 2013.

In 1998, Fiona founded the international water aid charity Just a Drop, of which she is chair. Its aim is to encourage the travel and tourism industry and businesses generally to give back to communities across the world with the provision of clean water and sanitation. In 2007, she launched World Responsible Tourism Day at WTM in partnership with the UNWTO which is now the largest responsible tourism gathering across the world.

In 2012, she was awarded an OBE by Her Majesty the Queen for services to travel and tourism, and the Hall of Fame Award for her contribution to the Environment. In 2013 she was awarded TTG Outstanding Contribution to the Industry Award and the World Tourism Award for her philanthropic vision in creating Just a Drop.

Simon Kelly

Simon Kelly is an expert in how technology and software can disrupt traditional industries. He is a business leader from influential tech companies like Accenture, Vodafone, Microsoft, Babylon Health, LinkedIn and Aula Education. Simon was part of the exec team for LinkedIn Europe when it was just a small startup in 2008 and spend eight years growing the business across the world when the membership grew from 20m to over 500m.  He is a board advisor to many founders of start-up’s and has worked with the University of Surrey on improving employability programs and he has written for Financial Times ('ask the expert' column). Simon is an economics graduate from Trinity College Dublin and has worked in Silicon Valley (California) and Asia (Singapore) and has travelled extensively and as a result he is a passionate believer in responsible and sustainable tourism. 

Helen Marano

Helen Marano is Founder and President of Marano Perspectives in which she capitalizes on her progressive career path which created an extensive global network of government and industry colleagues of all management levels and recognition as a professional Travel & Tourism expert and advocate. Her capacities include being a strategic thinker and planner and consensus builder from a destination management perspective, engaging multiple stakeholders. She reigns from both from a private sector global membership organisation (World Travel and Tourism Council - WTTC) as well from a top government level leadership position. Helen offers a strong political acumen from over a decade of leading the National Travel & Tourism Office for the United States, ensuring an integral relationship with all segments of the industry and interagency and intergovernmental engagements. Her technical proficiency is in market research, with expertise in building, directing and presenting comprehensive statistical systems for economic impact measures and market trend interpretations for policy deliberations and positions. Her entrepreneurial style was honed by establishing new departments and functions within organisations and overseeing large initiatives. Her approach to any endeavour is through teamwork and coalition building for maximum impacts. 

Charlie Parker

Charlie is general manager of Four Seasons Hampshire. He joined Four Seasons London in 1994 as an intern and worked in a variety of city, beach and island resort hotels including spells as cruise director of the Four Seasons Explorer and resort manager in the Four Seasons Resort Sharm El Sheik.

Charlie took over as general manager of Four Seasons Hampshire in 2011. He has BSc Hotel Management from Michigan State University and the University of Surrey.

Robin Rossmann

Robin Rossmann is Managing Director of STR, leading its operations across EMEA, APAC and LATAM. Robin is focused on continuing to improve the way STR provides the hotel industry with robust and insightful performance benchmarking that enables stakeholders to make better decisions.

Robin has over 15 years' focussed hotel sector experience, including 13 at Deloitte where he advised on hotel strategy, business planning, investment appraisal, market reviews, financial and commercial due diligence, IPOs, debt advisory, valuation, financial assurance, controls improvement and risk management.

Mark Tanzer

Mark Tanzer has been Chief Executive of ABTA since 1 September 2005. Over that period, and following its amalgamation with the Federation of Tour Operators, ABTA has consolidated its position as the leading UK travel association with 1200 corporate members comprising tour operators, cruise companies and travel agents.

In addition to providing a political and media voice for its members, ABTA offers a broad range of services including financial bonding, health and safety support and business guidance. In addition it has very wide consumer recognition through its customer support and alternative dispute resolution activities. Before joining ABTA, Mark held senior strategy and corporate finance positions in a number of industry sectors. Immediately prior to ABTA, Mark was Group Strategy Director of Centrica plc., the parent company of British Gas and the Automobile Association.

Tim Walton

Tim Walton is Regional Vice President of International Hotel Development for Marriott International.  He is responsible for overseeing the development of all Marriott’s brands across Western Europe. Before rejoining Marriott in 2005, Tim spent four years as Vice President of Hotel Development, Europe, with Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts. Prior to that, he was with Marriott’s Development Planning and Feasibility group based in London and responsible for assignments across the UKEMEA region. Tim has also held positions within the fields of consultancy (with industry experts BDO) and sales and marketing.  He is a graduate of the University of Surrey.