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Industry appointments for Marriott International, Te Papa and ABEA

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Industry appointments for Marriott International, Te Papa and ABEA
Marriott International has promoted from within to appoint two new area directors, while Te Papa and the Australian Business Events Association (ABEA) have taken on new talent.

New sales and operational leaders at Marriott International

Marriott has promoted two long-time staff into area director roles for the Australian, New Zealand and Pacific (ANZP) region.

Kelly Russell is the new sales and distribution area director for ANZP, moving up after 10 years in sales and leadership roles with the hotel group. Most recently she was the market director for sales and distribution in Victoria, with oversight of 11 hotels, including The Ritz-Carlton Melbourne, W Melbourne, Sheraton Melbourne and Le Méridien Melbourne.

After more than 25 years with Marriott, Carsten Siebert has been appointed senior area director of operations for ANZP. Most recently, Siebert was senior director for conversions in the Asia Pacific – excluding China – for Marriott. In his new role, he will have operational oversight of Marriott’s 47 hotels and resorts in the local region.

Industry appointments for Marriott International, Te Papa and ABEA
Carsten Siebert has been promoted at Marriott International

“Here in ANZP the pipeline is strong with 20 properties in stages of development, and three imminent new openings in 2024,” said Sean Hunt, Marriott’s area vice president for ANZP.

“With Kelly and Carsten heading our strategic leadership in their respective fields of expertise, I am confident in the performance of our team, and am optimistic that the year ahead will further solidify our region’s performance as a leading travel destination.”

ABEA appoints membership and sponsorship manager

Australia’s newest business events association has appointed Maeve Thomas as its new membership and sponsorship manager as it looks to grow its engagement with the industry.

Thomas has over 35 years’ experience in hotels and business events, including roles with BESydney, ICMS Australasia and EventConnect.

“As membership and sponsorship manager, Maeve Thomas is entrusted with the crucial responsibility of fostering deeper member engagement and relevant partnerships within the ABEA community,” said ABEA’s CEO, Melissa Brown.  

“She will hone ABEA’s membership strategy, using the new member acquisition and retention programs highlighted in ABEA’s recently formulated 2026 business strategy.

“With her acknowledged expertise, commitment and adept partnership-building skills, we look forward to seeing more results in the areas of member participation, community building and identifying collaborative opportunities for our members,” said Brown.

Thomas starts in the role this week.

Industry appointments for Marriott International, Te Papa and ABEA
Maeve Thomas will join the Australian Business Events Association

New sales and commercial appointment for Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Marna van Blerk has been chosen as Te Papa’s new head of sales and commercial.

Van Blerk’s role includes overseeing the business needs of the museum and Tākina Events, which manages Wellington’s new convention centre, Tākina, as well as the event spaces at Te Papa.

Van Blerk has moved over from InterContinental Wellington, where she was director of sales, marketing and revenue. She has also spent over 12 years with Sun International in South Africa.

“As the new head of sales and commercial at Te Papa, Marna will lead and manage the business activities, leveraging her extensive experience to drive the continued success of both Te Papa and Tākina Events,” said Te Papa’s director of museum and commercial services, Jake Downing.

“Her appointment comes at a crucial time, coinciding with the much-anticipated opening of Tākina last year.”

Industry appointments for Marriott International, Te Papa and ABEA
Marna van Blerk has joined Te Papa in Wellington

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