Chairman of the Executive Committee | Proprietor and General Manager of Gstaad Palace
Andrea Scherz is the third-generation proprietor and general manager of one of the most iconic family-led hotels in the world, Gstaad Palace. The Swiss property has been a member of The Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd. for more than 60 years.
Mr. Scherz served on the Executive Committee since 2011, most recently as Vice Chairman since 2019. He was appointed to the position of Chairman in November 2021, effective January 2022. Mr. Scherz follows in the footsteps of his father, Ernst Andrea Scherz, who also served as chairman of Leading Hotels for 15 years.
In his role, Mr. Scherz sits at the helm of the Executive Committee which is comprised of seven hoteliers that represent over 60 shareholder members of The Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd. His mission with the executive committee and Leading Hotels’ management team is to connect and empower hoteliers to stay independent.
Mr. Scherz grew up in the hotel business at Gstaad Palace and studied at École Hôtelière de Lausanne. Before returning to Gstaad, he worked for various hotels in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Italy and the United States, including the Beau-Rivage, Savoy, and InterContinental. He returned home in 1996 assuming the position of general manager in 2001. In addition to his role at LHW he holds a board seat with Swiss Deluxe Hotels and the Gstaad-Saanenland Airport Association.
President & Chief Executive Officer
Shannon Knapp became the president & chief executive officer of The Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd. in October 2019. For more than five years, Ms. Knapp has been a driver of innovation and change at the company. In August 2013, Ms. Knapp was appointed senior vice president and chief marketing officer of The Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd. Her commitment has been unwavering to create a breakthrough brand and data-driven marketing strategy, transform the customer experience, and accelerate brand loyalty for the more than 90-year-old company.
Ms. Knapp is a results-driven leader with more than 20 years of experience. She is responsible for aligning business goals with marketing strategies and providing an expertise that accelerates business performance and generates results.
As senior vice president and chief marketing officer of The Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd., Ms. Knapp oversaw the various marketing divisions and was responsible for the redesign and 2018 relaunch of Leading Hotels’ loyalty ecosystem, Leaders Club, a program that has been recognized by Condé Nast Traveler as “offering a boutique alternative to mega-chain hotels with a bevy of benefits.” Additionally, during this time, she built the marketing analytics and customer insights organization to drive a paradigm shift in the use of data to inform marketing strategy, resulting in an increase of marketing efficiency and millions of dollars in incremental revenue.
Prior to joining The Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd., Ms. Knapp spent 15 years at American Express, most recently serving as vice president of marketing for American Express Travel. In this role, she was responsible for leading U.S. customer acquisition and loyalty marketing, branding and public relations strategies, with global oversight of communications and compliance programs for the multi-billion-dollar global travel organization. She transformed the marketing approach to accelerate lead generation for all distribution channels, delivering an increase in acquisition of new customers. She also led the strategic marketing program which supported over 40 luxury travel partners.
Previously, she was the director of premium cardmember marketing, where she led the development of program marketing and customer experience strategies for Centurion and Platinum Card member travel programs, including Fine Hotels & Resorts, as well as cruise, tour and villa programming. During this engagement she managed strategic partnerships with over 700 luxury travel partners to optimize economics and maximize value for Card members and travel partners.
Ms. Knapp received her Bachelor of Arts in international relations from Colgate University where she studied abroad for a semester in Geneva, Switzerland.
Senior Vice President,
and Chief Commercial Officer
Chris Walker was appointed to the position of Senior Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer at The Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd. in June 2021. Mr. Walker brings more than two decades of hospitality, sales and marketing expertise to the Company, where he started in 2014 as Senior Vice President of Sales – Americas and later was appointed to Senior Vice President, Global Sales.
As Chief Commercial Officer Mr. Walker is focused on maximizing membership and sales impact for the Company. He is responsible for the strategic management of Leading Hotels’ worldwide sales team that is spread across more than 20 international offices from New York to Paris to Shanghai. Additionally, he leads the hotel member portfolio and development strategy, elevating Leading Hotels’ member value proposition. Under his purview, Mr. Walker is working with his team to deliver an enhanced experience for the portfolio’s more than 400 members, while expanding Leading Hotels’ presence in key growth markets.
In his position as Senior Vice President, Global Sales, Mr. Walker was responsible for leading the global sales organization and strategy across the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East, and Africa. He brought greater alignment across the more than 20 sales locations throughout the world to drive maximum impact for Leading Hotels’ members and the company’s global client base. As Senior Vice President, Sales-Americas, Mr. Walker streamlined sales efforts while driving double digit annual hotel revenue growth within some of the company’s largest offices. He oversaw technology implementations to increase sales efficiency and process redesign to enhance relationships with hoteliers and critical sales accounts.
Mr. Walker spent more than 10 years with Hyatt Hotels and he held various positions within the organization, including Director of Partner Marketing and Vice President of Brand Experience for four of Hyatt’s brands. He was responsible for the brand development and management of Hyatt Place and Hyatt House, two of Hyatt Hotels' fastest growing brands worldwide as well as the launch of all-inclusive brands Hyatt Ziva and Hyatt Zilara. Mr. Walker also held positions at American Express in their Service Delivery Network and Consumer Travel Network leading Fine Hotels & Resorts, American Express' Luxury Hotel program for Premium Card members.
Mr. Walker earned his M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and a B.S. degree in Geomatics Engineering from the University of Calgary.
Senior Vice President & Chief Financial Officer
Daniel Neumann was promoted to the position of senior vice president and chief financial officer for The Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd. in December 2008. He oversees all aspects of accounting, offices services, corporate administration and oversight of business growth and development. Mr. Neumann joined the company in October 1998 and was appointed senior vice president, finance in September 2002.
Prior to joining The Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd. Mr. Neumann was corporate controller for the Lowell Hotel, New York and L’Ermitage, Beverly Hills, where he supervised a USD 40 million renovation of the Beverly Hills property, as well as maintaining all financial aspects of both hotels. He began his career at Pannell Kerr Forster, an international public accounting and consulting firm where he departed in July 1994 as senior manager.
Mr. Neumann holds a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from Villanova University. He also earned his CPA in November of 1987.
Senior Vice President,
and Chief Marketing Officer
Phil Koserowski was appointed to the role of Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at The Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd. in June 2021. Mr. Koserowski brings nearly 25 years of experience in marketing to his role. As Chief Marketing Officer he leads the customer strategy, loyalty program, digital product development, B2C and B2B marketing, customer experience, and new business development and partnerships.
Mr. Koserowski served as Vice President Digital Product Development and Marketing for Leading Hotels starting in 2011. Within this role he was responsible for the development of LHW’s customer facing digital touchpoints including LHW.com and supporting language sites, LHW’s mobile initiatives, online customer acquisition and engagement via email, display, search, social media and emerging channels. Additionally, he oversaw the digital product and marketing solutions LHW provides to member hotels to maximize their customer acquisition and engagement efforts. During this time, Mr. Koserowski spearheaded initiatives incorporating new capabilities into LHW’s digital ecosystem including Artificial Intelligence, Natural Language Search and Predictive Intelligence.
Prior to joining Leading Hotels, he served as a partner and interactive marketing director with Ogilvy & Mather. He was also vice president interactive marketing at Sotheby’s International Realty where he was responsible for building the interactive marketing department for the global luxury real estate franchise network.
He received his Bachelors Degree in both marketing and computer applications from the University of Notre Dame.
Brigitte Van Den Houte
Vice President, Global Human Resources
Brigitte Van Den Houte was appointed vice president of global human resources for The Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd. in April 2021. Ms. Van Den Houte’s human resources expertise spans over 20 years and multiple countries.
In her role, she is responsible for designing and implementing a new global Human Resources strategy to support the company’s strategic vision. Under her purview, Ms. Van Den Houte works to further cultivate the Company’s growth mindset and build a high-performance culture to support the more than 400 worldwide hotels in The Leading Hotels of the World collection.
Prior to joining The Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd., Ms. Van Den Houte most recently served as senior vice president, human resources, global talent management at Pitney Bowes, Inc. During her successful career she has led culture transformations within a complex environment with multiple, geographically disbursed locations around the world, including Europe, North America, Brazil, and Asia Pacific.
Ms. Van Den Houte holds a master’s degree in human resources management from Vlerick Business School in Belgium.
Vice President, Member Experience
Deniz Omurgonulsen was appointed vice president of membership for The Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd. in April 2010. In her role, she is responsible for the overall membership of The Leading Hotels of the World, including managing new member development and leading its customer success team.
Ms. Omurgonulsen joined the company in March 2005 as strategic planning manager. In 2006, she became director of membership development, and has overseen membership acquisition and retention since then. Ms. Omurgonulsen has been a key member of the Quality Committee which continuously monitors and controls the high level of standards required from all member hotels.
Within her scope of work, she oversees the portfolio curation of more than 400 member hotels worldwide, leading owner and hotelier relations in more than 80 countries. In addition, her global team is in charge of distribution, revenue strategy, and business development for all the LHW member hotels. In addition, Ms. Omurgonulsen leads the quality initiatives to ensure that the brand positioning of The Leading Hotels of the World remains in top positioning.
Prior to joining The Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd. Ms. Omurgonulsen worked with Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts in operations based at The Pierre Hotel in New York. In addition to her property responsibilities, she conducted numerous successful corporate-wide training and quality initiatives, including participating in pre-opening hotel training teams and implementing a global e-learning platform.
She graduated with honors from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration. Member of the Cornell Council she is still actively involved in Cornell Hotel Society and its Foundation.
Vice President, Global Marketing & Communications
Lauren Alba was promoted to the position of vice president, global marketing and communications for The Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd. in 2021. Ms. Alba brings over 15 years of experience in developing customer-centric marketing campaigns and communication strategies for global businesses.
In her position she leads global B2C marketing communications as well as B2B and hotel member marketing and communications. Additionally, she oversees The Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd. brand management, creative services, public relations and social media efforts.
Ms. Alba joined the Company in 2014 as the director, global public relations and media partnerships where she oversaw the global public relations strategy for 12 regions and led the development and onsite management of the company's annual hotel member event. She was later appointed senior director, marketing communications in 2016. In this role she led development and execution of integrated marketing and communications strategies for guests and member hotels through brand strategy and management, content strategy and development, creative design services, public relations, social media and events.
Prior to joining The Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd., Ms. Alba spent time at both American Express and Coyne PR. At American Express she held the position of senior manager of brand digital and social media marketing where she oversaw digital media partnerships and the creation of brand content across social media channels. During her time, Ms. Alba led the digital content creation for the launch of the American Express Everyday credit card, managing agencies and a multi-million dollar budget to create support assets for the launch.
Ms. Alba received her bachelor’s degree in communication from George Mason University.
Vice President, Information Technology
Michael Lederman was appointed to the position of Vice President, Information Technology for The Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd. in July 2018. A forward-thinking technology strategist and business partner, he is responsible for aligning the organization’s global technology strategy and directing operational implementation of systems and applications to improve effectiveness, service quality, and business development. Mr. Lederman joined the company in February 2017 as Senior Director, Information Technology.
Prior to joining The Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd. he held IT leadership positions at Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation, Massey Knakal Realty Services and most recently Cushman & Wakefield, where he was responsible for IT strategy and managed part of a global technology solutions team. He worked on consolidating over 1000 global business applications during multiple corporate mergers to increase efficiency and reduce cost. He also established a global innovation strategy to foster innovation and better service clients and oversaw the redesign of a custom enterprise CRM, property data, and operations platform for the NY Capital Markets business.
Mr. Lederman received his MBA from Columbia Business School and Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Rutgers University.
Vice President &
Susan Ziluca was appointed Vice President and General Counsel for The Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd. in December 2013. Mrs. Ziluca joined the company in July 2007 as general counsel. She is responsible for overseeing all legal matters, including all contract work, of the organization.
Ms. Ziluca has more than 25 years of legal experience. She has worked both in private practice and as an in-house attorney with extensive experience in transactional work, general contract and corporate matters.
She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor of arts degree and a masters degree, magna cum laude and suma cum laude, respectively and received her JD degree with honors from Rutgers School of Law, Newark.
Vice Chair of the Executive Committee | Board Member
CEO & Partner of Acqualina Resort & Residences on the Beach | Board Member
President & CEO of Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria | Board Member
CEO of Sacher Hotels | Board Member
COO of Halekulani Corporation | Board Member
Managing Director of Badrutt’s Palace | Board Member
Senior Advisor with Boston Consulting Group and former CMO at Visa | Board Member