Travel industry veterans Michael A. Leven, chairman and chief executive officer of Georgia Aquarium, and W. Stephen Maritz, chairman and chief executive officer of Maritz Holdings Inc., have been selected as the 2015 inductees into the U.S. Travel Hall of Leaders, the single highest and most revered honor an individual in the travel industry can receive.
Leven and Maritz will be honored during a dinner on November 18 attended by more than 100 travel industry leaders during the U.S. Travel Association’s fall board meeting in Washington, D.C.
Distinguished individuals are named to the Hall of Leaders for “sustained, noteworthy contributions that have positively impacted the travel industry, stimulated greater achievement, and raised industry-wide standards.”
“Mike and Steve merit this top honor for consistently cultivating excellence in their organizations and leading the travel industry in engagement and performance,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. “Mike has innovated his entire career, building brands and starting the highly regarded Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA), and Steve has built a venerable company that has become synonymous with incentive travel, a very valuable component of the travel industry. This is well-deserved recognition, and I look forward to joining the rest of the travel community in honoring them.”
Leven is a travel industry legend who led numerous hospitality companies, including Las Vegas Sands Corporation, Holiday Inn Worldwide, U.S. Franchise Systems (Microtel Inn, Hawthorn Suites), Days Inn America and Georgia Aquarium. He is also co-founder of AAHOA, former international president of the Hotel Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) and a dedicated member of the American Hotel & Lodging Association. During his career, Leven is best known for being a visionary, mentor, motivator and champion of the customer.
Maritz has become one of the most respected leaders in the travel industry by being a strong advocate, investor and leader in the meetings, events and incentive travel sector while successfully taking his family’s business to new heights. In 2009, Maritz joined other industry leaders in a meeting with President Obama to promote the value of incentive travel and face-to-face meetings, which were under increased scrutiny. His presence helped draw support from the president for the industry, and helped minimize rhetoric from policymakers against federal government employee participation in meetings and conventions.
With these inductions, 92 travel industry professionals have been inducted into the U.S. Travel Hall of Leaders since it was created in 1969. The 2014 inductees were Sam Gilliland of Sabre Holdings and Rossi Ralenkotter of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.