Bendel Communications International

Results-oriented marketing solutions for destinations, hotels & tour operators worldwide.

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Our Team

Peggy Bendel
Peggy Bendel

WYSIWYG is our work style: what you see is what you get. You’ll be working directly with our principals, tapping into their creativity and contacts, their knowledge and their marketing savvy.

Peggy Bendel
peggy@bendelcommunications.com

Peggy Bendel is a globally-recognized expert in travel marketing, crisis communications and media training, and has worked for clients around the world, from Australia to Arizona, California to Chile, South Africa to Sweden.

A principal in the seminal I Love New York campaign, Peggy began her career as a travel writer for the State of New York, and worked in economic development and international trade as well as tourism.

Recognized with a "Lifetime Achievement" award by the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International, Peggy is a frequent speaker at conferences and workshops, and contributes to a range of industry publications, including Travel Marketing Decisions, PR Tactics and O'Dwyer's PR Report. She has been profiled in a variety of international media, most recently in Vienna, Austria and Portugal.
 
She sits on the Boards of the Association of Travel Marketing Executives (ATME) and the Public Relations Society of America's (PRSA) Travel & Tourism section, and is an active member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), Bay Area Travel Writers (BATW) and other industry organizations.

A frequent speaker at conferences around the U.S. and internationally on the topics of branding, crisis communications, marketing and public relations, Peggy is also an experienced media coach and trainer.

A graduate of Georgian Court College (now University), Peggy was named to their "Court of Honor" in 2008. She also studied at NYU's Graduate School of Public Administration. Peggy lives in New York and Tucson, AZ, with her husband Richard Gussaroff and multiple felines.

 

Yves Gentil

Yves Gentil has more than 20 years’ experience in the travel, destination marketing, hotel and public relations field, having worked for tour operators, destination management companies, a conference center and hotels.  He spent five years working for Marriott at the New York Marriott Marquis in Times Square, where he was responsible for international sales and marketing, before becoming the New York director of the Quebec tourism board from 2001 to 2003.  Yves has personally directed activities for the Province of Quebec, the London Marriott, Just for Laughs Festival, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Tyler Hall, Perillo Tours, Geringer Global Travel, Wendy Wu's China, EJ Africa, CPI Hotels and Finnair.

Yves covers all segments of the travel industry, Leisure, Corporate, Incentive and the Media. TV media coverage for clients includes ABC’s Good Morning America, NBC Today Show, The CBS Early Show, FOX special "Toni on Quebec," CNBC Power Lunch, CNN Travel Segments, NY1 Travel with Val D'Elia, and Bloomberg TV, among others.  Print and online publication coverage includes Travel and Leisure, New York Times, Associated Press, USA Today, Budget Travel, and many others.  Yves prides himself on his extensive industry contacts and ability to deliver on its goals, time after time, contributing to his long relationships.

He has been recognized by the travel industry with numerous awards:

  • A 2010 and 2009 Gold HSMAI Adrian award for public relations campaign.
  • Three Aaron D Cushman/SATW Awards for excellence in Public Relations, Best Overall Marketing Campaign for a Destination.
  • In 2009 he was nominated for an Emmy award for co-producing a special on Fox 5 for "Toni on Quebec."

Yves has also been a participating member of SATW, having served in numerous positions in annual conventions including Planning-Chair for the 2009 Guadalajara Convention and Chair for the 2011 New Zealand Convention.

 

Brigitta Kroon-Fiorita

Brigitta Kroon-Fiorita is a public relations and marketing expert who specializes in travel, destination, and culture, developing key strategies to reach targeted business goals. She spent more than 20 years in the New York City office of Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions, rising to the role of North American Media Relations Manager overseeing the promotion of Holland to the U.S. & Canadian market. Brigitta was born, raised, and educated in the Netherlands. She speaks three languages including English, Dutch, and German, as well as basic French.

In addition to her success promoting Holland, Brigitta’s client and destination partners have included VisitBritain; Eurail Group G.I.E.; Austrian Tourist Office, Hungarian Tourist Office; INNOVATION NORWAY – Tourism; Polish National Tourist Office; and DH Enterprise & Associates (Sceptre and Great Value Vacations). Brigitta was also the Director of Operations, Inbound Division, for the American Institute for Foreign Study. AIFS and its family of companies organize cultural exchange programs throughout the world for more than 50,000 students each year.

Brigitta is a member of SATW (Society of American Travel Writers), TMAC (Travel Media Association of Canada), PRSA (Public Relations Society of America), PCNY (Publicity Club of New York), NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners), and the Social Media Marketing Society.

She is based in Connecticut, about one hour outside of New York City.

 

Sue Lomenzo

Sue’s core expertise is social marketing and behavior change communications on a wide variety of social and environmental issues, including sustainable tourism.  As Director of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s GreenCOM project during her tenure at the Academy for Educational Development, Sue focused on several ecotourism projects, including the restoration and protection of the Red Sea coral reefs, and community engagement initiatives for both national parks and coastal restoration efforts in Tanzania.

Sue and Peggy have worked together on diverse tourism destination clients, including the U.S. Virgin Islands, Sweden, Alabama, and Palm Beach County FL.  She has also worked with the American Society of Travel Agents to develop surveys on travel trends.

Sue splits her time between Washington DC and Asheville NC.

 

Leora H. Lanz

Leora Halpern Lanz has been an active leader and participant in the field of hospitality marketing since 1985, always at the forefront of strategic marketing and communications.  She was named the 2010 Hospitality Marketing Executive of the Year by the Big Apple (Greater New York) chapter of Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI.org).

Leora served for 15 years as Global Director of Marketing & Communications for HVS, a leading international hospitality consulting and services firm. She was responsible for overseeing the internal and external marketing communications for the organization’s multitude of offices, services, conferences, and articles and research.  She directed the firm’s global business teams for Marketing and Communications, Graphic Standards, Internal Communications, Social Media, Conference Branding and the Market Connections annual event. She also managed and edited the firm’s weekly newsletter, the Global Hospitality Report and was the company’s primary media contact.

Simultaneously, Leora directed HVS’s Sales & Marketing division, working directly with a myriad of hotel properties and companies, hospitality related services, and other entertainment and recreational venues.  Leora and her team of experienced marketing communications specialists provided strategic planning, innovative sales training and action planning, social media marketing and publicity, and big-picture branding consultancy.

Prior to joining HVS, Leora served for 10 years as Director of Public Relations and Advertising for the ITT Sheraton Hotels of New York and for five years as Director of Public Relations for the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau.  With ITT Sheraton, she ran the public relations and advertising operations for six hotels and played a significant public relations role for the hotels during the 1992 Democratic National Convention, and for numerous hotel openings since. While in Boston, she spearheaded the citywide promotion of the Monet exhibit and was invited by the Japan National Tourist Organization to teach destination marketing to tourism officials there.  During her graduate studies she also handled public relations activities for the (then) new Four Seasons Hotel at the Boston Common.

Leora is an active member of the Public Relations Society of America (prsa.org), having served as chairperson of the PRSA Travel & Tourism Conferences in 1998 and 2000, and a member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW.org) and Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI.org).  She earned a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a master’s from Boston University.  She has written for dozens of industry publications, and she is a regular guest lecturer at Boston University’s School for Hospitality Administration at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Excerpts of her articles are included in the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute’s Sales & Marketing textbook, 6th edition, released in March 2014.

 

Bob Gjestland
Rio de Janeiro-born and raised by his American mother and Norwegian father, Bob gained his pilot’s license at 16. After his Air Force Service in Alaska, the Southwest and upstate New York, Bob flew for a cargo airline, then joined Chevron as a corporate pilot, traveling to more than 100 countries around the globe, many for multiple visits. His adventures include shepherding a crippled plane from Kenya to the US in mid-winter, a trip that took 69 days rather than the anticipated 10. After 32 years at Chevron, many as Chief Pilot, Bob retired to Arizona and recently joined Bendel Communications to add his knowledge of the planet and its birds (not surprising for a pilot!) to our work with clients such as Sabi Sabi and Las Cruces.

 

 


Martin Armes

Martin Armes has a proven track record developing and executing successful strategic marketing communications for clients ranging from destinations, historic hotels and restaurants to golf courses, resorts, golf associations and real estate communities.

In addition to working almost a decade in college athletics media relations at the Universities of North Carolina, Florida and Georgia, including a stint as the assistant men's golf coach at Georgia, and a current member of the North Carolina Golf Ratings Panel, Armes is one of the nation's most respected and queried tourism marketing and public relations professionals, and serves as an active member in the Society of American Travel Writers and Public Relations Society of America.

Martin possesses a unique blend of qualifications, beginning as a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of North Carolina with a master's degree in sports management from the University of Georgia. He received the Certified Destination Management Executive designation - the highest educational achievement in destination marketing. He and his family live in Raleigh, NC.

 

Jeanne Sullivan

Jeanne Sullivan counsels clients with sound strategy and creativity, drawing on nearly 20 years of extensive experience in a broad range of public relations, marketing, coaching and communications services, including crisis communications.

Current or recent consulting clients include California Travel & Tourism Commission where she does ongoing global media relations project consulting and execution, team building, public affairs and writing projects), San Jose Convention & Visitors Bureau (now handles meeting trade PR), Doubletree Grand Key West, plus recent project clients such as Riu Hotels & Resorts (in association with Watkins PR), Development Counsellors International (DCI) PR Agency in New York (for clients such as Chile Tourism), Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, Treister Murray PR Agency, Miami Beach Marriott Oceanfront, etc.

 

Bill Baker

Bill Baker is recognized internationally for his work in branding and marketing destinations and communities. With more than 30 years experience in over 25 countries, Bill has developed successful tourism marketing strategies for dozens of locations throughout the United States and Australia.

He has been directly involved in shaping some of the most respected destination branding campaigns in the USA, including Australia's highly acclaimed "Shrimp on the Barbie," which he directed for seven years. He has produced tourism strategies for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, and has been asked to provided strategic counsel to destinations around the world including Hong Kong, Guam, India, Macau, and Saudi Arabia, as well as Australia's global branding and integrated marketing campaigns.

 

 

Hank Todd

A recognized leader in the travel industry, Hank has led destinations around the world in solving organizational and marketing challenges, including Kenya, Taiwan, Singapore, Canada, Argentina and Sweden. Nationally he has advised state tourism offices and city convention and visitors bureaus.

Using innovative and unique approaches, he works with organizations devising win-win solutions involving stakeholders, governmental bodies and partners. He has helped develop strategic plans for the State of Washington, State of Minnesota and the US Travel Association, and worked on product development assessments for Stockholm, Kenya and Peru. He has done numerous facilitations for destinations and organizations from Brookings, South Dakota to the State of Missouri to the Arizona Tourism Alliance and Arizona Hotel and Lodging Association.

As Director of Tourism for Minnesota from 1978 until 1995 (appointed by four different Governors from both political parties), he developed a Tourism Master Plan for the State. His work on numerous development and economic research projects during his tenure including the Mall of America and major events like the Super Bowl; he’s been recognized as State Travel Director of Year received two national marketing awards.

Prior to starting Hank Todd Solutions Group, he was an executive at Carlson Companies from 1995 to 2008. He was VP of Marketing for Carlson Wagonlit Travel, VP of Business Development Government and Tourism for Carlson Companies, VP Asia Strategy for Carlson Leisure Group and headed up Carlson Destination Marketing Services.

He has served on numerous Boards and Committees, including USTRAVEL, National Tourism Association Strategic Development Council, Bloomington MN Convention and Visitors Bureau, Explore Minnesota Tourism Council, Canadian Tourism Commission’s US Leisure Advisory Board, the Advisory Committee for the University of Minnesota Tourism Center and the Minnesota State University/Mankato College of Business Advisory Committee.

 

Libby Moffet and Bill Gray

Libby has a strong media background, including three years as Aviation & Tourism writer for Australia's leading business newspaper, The Australian Financial Review, and as a reporter with Australian Associated Press cable service, the Australian Broadcasting Commission (public radio) and Sydney's Daily Telegraph.

Libby also worked as media advisor to a Minister in the New South Wales Government, leaving daily journalism in 1992 to become a freelance writer and PR practitioner specializing in aviation, travel and tourism.  For two years she managed the British Airways account while establishing MG Media Communications with partner Bill Gray. She holds a BA in Communications from the University of Technology, Sydney, and is a member of the Public Relations Institute of Australia.

Bill has 30 years experience in the mainstream journalism, PR and tourism, including eight years in executive management positions at the Australian Tourist Commission, now Tourism Australia. Hired to manage the ATC’s worldwide PR activities, his role was broadened to include marketing communications during the famous Paul Hogan Slip a Shrimp on the Barbie campaign.

Previous experience included journalism with The Age, Melbourne, State Political Reporter Victoria for the Australian Broadcasting Commission, Associate Producer GTV9 News Melbourne, Assistant Chief of Staff The Melbourne Herald, and news correspondent in London and later Singapore for The Herald & Weekly Times Ltd, then Australia's largest newspaper group.

Julia Levi

Julia joined the team as an Administrative Assistant in June 2006, and has now been promoted to Account Executive. She has coordinated and planned both media and trade events, as well as media tours, for a variety of clients, including the Arizona Office of Tourism, Flemings’ Hotel and more.

Julia is a Hotel and Tourism major at New York University. Her prior work experience includes positions at Ian Schrager’s The Gramercy Park Hotel, as well as Mario Batali’s Otto Enoteca. She has studied in Spain, France and Argentina, and has traveled extensively throughout Europe, South American and the Middle East. She is fluent in Spanish and has a good working knowledge of French.

Contact Us

Phone: 917.969.9919
Peggy Bendel's email:
peggy@bendelcommunications.com
Skype: peggybendel

 

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