Stirnimann to succeed Lerch as CEO of Hotelplan Group

THOMAS Stirnimann will succeed Hans Lerch as the new CEO of Switzerland-based Hotelplan Group, effective November 1.

Simon Lehmann, CEO Interhome, has been named his deputy.

The group, which is owned by Migros, comprises Hotelplan Suisse, Hotelplan Italia, Hotelplan UK, Ascent Travel Russia, Interhome (Europe’s leading vacation home rental agency) and Travelwindow. Its travel brands such as Hotelplan and Travelhouse send thousands of passengers to Asia.

Lerch will remain as vice chairman of the Hotelplan board and advise the management on strategic issues.

Lerch’s involvement with London-based Abercrombie & Kent (A&K) Group has been rising over the past year. He is now the executive director of the board and chairs A&K companies in Asia and Africa. He told TTG Asia e-Daily that his role at A&K would be expanded from November.

Stirnimann, 50, was promoted as Lerch’s deputy in 2010, and had his hands full reorganising Hotelplan Switzerland while Lerch tried to combat the group’s dismal figures.

The group’s turnover for 2010/2011 declined 6.6 per cent to CHF1.39 billion (US$1.47 billion) despite a 3.6 per cent increase in total customer volume to 1.3 million passengers.

Political upheavals in North Africa that virtually halted the high turnover business to Egypt and Tunisia, currency movements and natural disasters in Asia, all had a major influence on the group’s 2010/2011 business year ending October 31, 2011.

But the bigger issue remains the impact of the Internet on traditional tour operators.

In the group’s annual report 2010/2011, Lerch said: “We will also see in the next 18 months whether the traditional tour operators will be able to meet and master the new online world and the structural challenges it poses.”

The group has made substantial investments in the Player & Hub technology, which enables operators to flexibly bundle their products and supplement these with additional services.

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