“My interest is in the future, because I’m going to spend the rest of my life there.”
“An idea that is developed and put into action is more important
than an idea that only exists as an idea.”
From a sketch on a napkin, to a start-up business struggling to get off the ground, to an established company searching for ways to grow, we take ideas and enterprises and provide them with the resources, networking, structure and investments they need to succeed.
Co-Founder and Managing Partner
An innovative strategist and respected leader with a reputation for being “ahead of the curve,” Bill’s pragmatic attitude, marketing flair and grasp of technology have been the catalyst for positive change and progress for a variety of premier companies within the travel industry. His career has spanned the corporate world at multiple levels as well as entrepreneurial ventures and unique consulting assignments.
Before venturing on his own, Bill was at Best Western Hotels where he was VP World Wide Marketing and rose to become EVP/COO. Among his many accomplishments at Best Western was the restructuring of the company, including development of a new brand identity system and a new global Central Reservation System.
Prior to that, he was with ITT Sheraton Hotels where he served as VP Strategic Marketing overseeing the development of a new global Central Reservation System and creating the Sheraton Club International Guest Loyalty program that later became the foundation for Starwood’s Preferred Guest program. During this time, he also co-founded THISCO (The Hotel Industry Switch Company) and was its Chairman for three years, remaining on the board until it went public as the renamed Pegasus Systems. THISCO was cited by Don Tapscott in his book “The Paradigm Shift” as one of the top ten examples of the visionary thinking required for success in today’s world of electronic marketing.
In addition to leading Venturism, Bill is a co-Founder and Senior Partner of the Prism Partnership LLC, a consulting company specializing in the hotel and travel industries. In his position at Prism, he has done consulting engagements for major corporations such as Harley-Davidson, Denihan Hospitality, Rosewood Hotels, Mandarin Oriental, Wyndham Hotels and Choice Hotels.
Bill has also served on a variety of boards including Signature Inns where he assisted in their IPO and later sale to Jameson Inns; Micros Systems (NASDAQ: MCRS) where he was an Independent Director and Chairman of their Audit Committee; and as a founding board member of Passkey Inc. He also founded TLX, Inc., a company specializing in automation of airline crew logistics where he became its Chairman and EVP and ultimately coordinated the sale of the company.
Bill began his career in the airline industry as a Management Trainee for Pan American Airways where he held a variety of management positions in London, Miami and New York. Following airline deregulation, he helped launch two new airlines: Altair, a U.S. East Coast regional carrier which grew to cover 20 cities from Canada to Florida; and Bi Coastal Air Service, an all-first-class airline timeshare service between New York and Los Angeles focused on the entertainment industry.
In his personal life, Bill co-founded the Lifebridge foundation at Boston Children’s Hospital which focused on research for brain injured children and is currently the Chairman of Gillette Children’s Specialty Hospital steering committee for the Gait and Motion Analysis Lab long-term outcomes research project.
Gary is a highly respected marketer and communications expert who is known for developing innovative solutions to complex problems. As the head of ISM, a Boston-based integrated communications company, he has successfully helped to build and grow premier brands in the travel and hospitality industries around the world. Most recently, he merged the company with Connelly Partners to form ISM/CP where he continues to serve as President.
Gary’s skill at helping build market leaders is best reflected by the diverse array of brands that have chosen to work with him and his firm through the years, including: Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts; American Express; Emirates; Barbados Tourism Authority; The Islands Of The Bahamas; Saint Lucia; Best Western Hotels; Palace Resorts; Massachusetts Port Authority; The Walt Disney Company; Foxwoods Resort Casino; UNESCO; Tourism Cares and Harley-Davidson. Prior to joining ISM, Gary was the corporate director of public relations for the publicly traded Sonesta International Hotels Corporation, responsible for the communication activities for their hotels worldwide. Before he joined the travel industry, Gary was the director of consumer advertising for the Osaga and Kid Power lines of athletic footwear.
Gary is a past president of the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI), the largest organization of travel and hotel sales executives in the world. He currently serves on the Board of the HSMAI Foundation and chairs the HSMAI Lifetime Achievement Awards Committee. He has long been active in the HSMAI Adrian Awards competition and is the founder of the organization’s public relations and web awards, which combine to make this the largest travel competition of its kind in the world. In addition, Gary is one of the co-founders of the HSMAI Annual Awards Night dinner that gathers nearly 1,000 top travel executives to New York City each year.
A noted author and observer of travel trends, his publications include “The Art of Hotel Advertising” which was published by HSMAI. His writings have appeared in HSMAI Marketing Review, Successful Meetings, HotelExecutive.com, Business Travel News and The Boston Globe and he is a regular monthly columnist for MediaPost Marketing: Travel. In addition, he has taught and lectured on the subject at Cornell, Boston University, University of New Hampshire and many other colleges and organizations.
His work in advertising and marketing has garnered awards from many organizations, including HSMAI, Direct Marketing Association, New England Direct Marketing Association, Public Relations Society of America, American Hotels & Lodging Association, American Society of Association Executives, among others. Gary was recognized with the 2004 HSMAI Albert E. Koehl Award for Lifetime Achievement in Travel Advertising and Marketing—joining a prominent list of previous recipients including Richard Branson, Ian Schrager, Bill Marriott and Michael Eisner.
“A revolution doesn’t happen when society adopts new tools.
It happens when society adopts new behaviors.”
One of the strengths of Venturism is our team of highly experienced and skilled advisors:
Denise has over 30 years of experience in the hospitality and travel industry in a variety of leadership roles including serving most recently as the President, North America at Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.
Joining Starwood Hotels in 2004 as the Regional Vice President of Operations for the New England region, Denise’s scope of responsibility expanded to include all of North America in 2006. She then rose to become President of the $11B North America Division, which is Starwood’s largest, with 500+ hotels across the U.S., Canada, Virgin Islands, French Polynesia, Bahamas and the British West Indies. While at Starwood, she successfully launched two new brands, Aloft and Element, that provided entry into the uncultivated niche of specialty select service hotels. Among the highlights of her tenure at Starwood was her ability to navigate the hotels through the 2008/09 Recession. During that time, she increased the portfolio from 447 to 553 hotels, earned record guest satisfaction scores and achieved double-digit growth.
Denise also served as Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Seaport Companies in Boston. Through extensive brand and product repositioning, she increased market share, attained a 90+% “customer intent to return” rating, strengthened group business and elevated the Seaport Hotel to a AAA Four Diamond status.
Denise started her career in travel with the ITT Sheraton Corporation in 1977 and rapidly progressed to positions of increasing responsibility in the information technology, operations and executive realms.
Denise is a Non Executive Director of LaSalle Hotel Properties and Enlivant; University of Massachusetts, Foundation Board & Isenberg School of Management & HTM Advisory Board; Simmons College School of Management Business Advisory Council; and the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston Board.
Mark Lomanno advises several start-up and investment companies in the hospitality and data space, including newBrandAnalytics, Duetto Research, Kalibri Labs and Thayer Hospitality Ventures. In that role, he not only serves on company Boards of Directors and Advisors, but also takes an active role in helping to shape the respective company’s strategic direction, creating and enhancing new research solutions and building relationships with hospitality brands, owners and operators.
Lomanno is the former President and CEO of Smith Travel Research (STR), the hotel industry’s global lodging authority on current trends in hotel supply, demand, occupancy, average room rates and RevPar. Under Lomanno’s leadership, the number of hotels sending performance data to and subscribing to the various STR product offerings grew to tens of thousands of hotels globally, representing over five million hotel rooms. During his tenure, STR and its sister company, STR Global, became the world’s foremost and most reliable and accurate sources of historical lodging performance trends, global hotel census databases and hotel development and construction databases.
In 2011, Lomanno co-authored “Distribution Channel Analysis: A Guide for Hotels,” which is believed to be the most comprehensive study on the lodging industry’s online environment. This study was the culmination of research on distribution practices, the distribution landscape and hotel performance based on booking channel mix. Specific attention was focused on various aspects of hotel Internet bookings including rooms booked through the various OTC sites. In addition, the study also focused on the nature of the search process that consumers undertake prior to booking hotel rooms and the price they pay for the room. Prior to distribution, study results were delivered at two leading hotel industry conferences: The International Hotel, Motel + Restaurant Show (“IHMRS”) held in New York, NY in November 2011; and the Americas Lodging and Investment Summit, held in Los Angeles, CA in January 2012. Thereafter, more than 20,000 copies of the over 200-page report were downloaded in the first two weeks of availability.
Mr. Lomanno serves on the advisory board of the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management at Temple University, where he also teaches a graduate-level course entitled “New Media and Distribution.” In addition, he serves on the boards of The Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell University, the School of Hospitality at The Pennsylvania State University and University of Delaware’s school of Hotel, Restaurant & Institutional Management. Mr. Lomanno is an active member in the Hotel Development Council of the Urban Land Institute and is a named Conti Professor at The Pennsylvania State University. Because of his in-depth understanding and knowledge of current industry issues, Mr. Lomanno is asked to give numerous speeches at industry conferences, industry seminars and company meetings throughout the year.
Mr. Lomanno holds an MS degree in Marketing from La Salle University and an MBA from Temple University. He lives in Cape May, NJ with his wife and is an avid Philadelphia Eagles and Phillies fan.
An innovative strategist and business leader across diverse industries including travel and financial services, Cynthia has a track record of transforming global entities. Among her accomplishments are successfully leading declining businesses into high growth, engineering major turnarounds, and championing complex organizational changes to support a corporation’s overall strategic agenda.
During a nearly 20-year career at American Express, she rose to become Executive Vice President, Customer Service International where she led an organization of 15,000 across 21 countries and 17 languages. She revitalized an underperforming, fragmented organization and improved customer satisfaction by 40%. She also delivered $430M in re-engineering savings with zero increases in expenses for four consecutive years, while still achieving sizable business growth. She also reduced operating expenses as a percentage of revenue by 21% while achieving the highest-ever employee satisfaction rating for the division.
Cynthia also served for four years as Senior Vice President/General Manager US Consumer Travel at American Express where she led the American Express Consumer Travel Network that consisted of company owned travel business, two wholly owned subsidiary travel companies, a rep network of independent agencies, as well as services for American Express Centurion (Black Card) and Platinum Cards. She transformed the organization from a cost center to a profit center in just three years. While at American Express, Cynthia also served in a variety of senior customer-facing roles including: Vice President, General Manager, Corporate Services Large Market; Vice President, Business Travel; and Director, Business Travel Customer Service.
Cynthia began her career in travel with People Express Airline and subsequently went on to work for Grand Circle Corporation and Thomas Cook, before joining American Express. Most recently, Cynthia was the American Express Industry Chair and Visiting Professor, Strategic Leadership department at the National Defense University, Industrial College of the Armed Forces where she taught graduate-level courses to senior members of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Cynthia is an advisory board member for WPS (Worldwide Payment Systems), headquartered in Seville, Spain, a leading data and payment processing company that specializes in serving the travel agency and hotel industries.
“Change is not merely necessary for life. It is life!”
Travel Industry Leaders Announce Launch of Venturism
A New Approach to Incubating and Accelerating Business Ideas in the Travel Industry.Bill Watson and Gary Leopold have announced the formation of Venturism LLC, a business development firm that will invest in nurturing and accelerating ideas focused on serving the travel and hospitality industries. Venturism offers a unique approach with its very seasoned team. Watson and Leopold have extensive experience in leadership roles within the travel industry. Bill Watson, who serves as the group’s founder and managing partner is also a senior partner/co-founder of the Prism Partnership and had previously served as COO and EVP for Best Western Hotels and vice-chairman of THISCO/Pegasus Systems. Gary Leopold, who is the group’s co-founder, also serves as the president of ISM/CP, a Boston-based, travel-focused [...]Read More ›
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