PHOTO: The St. Regis Sanya Haitang Bay Resort. (Courtesy of Starwood Hotels & Resorts)
With Starwood Hotels & Resorts President and CEO Frits van Paasschen resigning on Tuesday, Adam Aron has been thrust back into the spotlight as interim CEO of the global hospitality company.
Who is Adam Aron, you may ask?
Well, perhaps the better question may be: Who isn't he?
Sit back because this is going to take a while…
Aron, who has been on Starwood's board since 2006, has served for more than three decades in the travel and leisure industries. He has served as senior operating partner of Apollo Global Management, LLC. He has served as chairman and CEO of Cap Jaluca. He has served as chairman and CEO of World Leisure Partners, Inc., a consultancy firm focused on travel and tourism and high-end real estate development. He has served as chairman and CEO of Vail Resorts Inc (1996-2006). He has served as president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line (1993-1996). He was senior vice president of marketing for United Airlines from 1990 to 1993.
He was also senior vice president of marketing for Hyatt Hotels Corporation from 1987 to 1990. He has been administrator of Seven Seas Cruises S. DE R.L. He has been director of Prestige Cruises International. He has been director of NCL Corporation, Ltd., Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. and Barcelo Crestline. That's in addition to serving on the board of directors of Prestige Cruise Holdings, Inc. and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, and serving as director of Carey International, Inc.
"I think the key thing I would say is wherever Adam has been, there has been innovation - he has also been very customer-centric," said Doug Gollan, co-founder of Elite Traveler magazine.
"He was instrumental in the launch and development of the frequent flier programs for Pan Am and Hyatt Hotels Corp and considered a 'boy genius' at the time," Gollan added. "At United Airlines, he was one of the early pioneers of the trend for branding business class, creating Connoisseur Class. He was also an advocate that U.S. airlines could compete on service with foreign carriers, bringing Dom Perignon and Godiva chocolates.
"At (Norwegian Cruise Line), he became know for introducing sexy television commercials designed to change the perception of cruises for the older crowd and he focused on lots of amenities that weren't typical on mass market cruise ships. Most of all, Adam is know for his sense of wit and humor which always livens up his speaking engagements."
Added Bob Gilbert, CEO of Captivation Marketing: "Adam is a very focused leader and a likeable fellow. He enjoys the creative/promotional side of business provided it is supported by insight gained from data. He has a unique knack of tip top execution to ensure the job gets over the finish line. I have seen him at work mostly from U.S. Travel Association and he creates and motivates teams that know how to deliver."
Aron has also held positions on the Council on Foreign Relations, the Young Presidents' Organization, the Business Executives for National Security, Diamond Resorts Corporation, Global Ship Lease Inc., Nextel Partners Inc., Rewards Network Inc., FTD Group Inc., the Travel Industry Association of America and the National Finance Committee of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (2008).
Aron was also selected to participate in the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference in 2004 by the U.S. Secretary of Defense, was appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to serve on the board of directors of the National Forest Foundation (2000-2006) and was delegate to President Bill Clinton's 1995 White House Conference on Travel and Tourism.
And just for good measure, Aron was also co-owner and CEO of an NBA team, the Philadelphia 76ers.
Safe to say, Aron has certainly had quite the career since graduating from Harvard University. In addition to the many awards he's received-from transforming the U.S. ski industry to being named one of the top marketing executives in the country-Aron has also been praised for his energy and enthusiasm, including when he was with the 76ers. After all, it's not often that an arena full of fans chant an executive's name.
It's only natural that Aron's name would pop up again as Starwood looks to ultimately find a replacement for van Paasschen. He may as well be called "The Swiss Army Knife of the Travel Industry."
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