Hospitality advisory firm Horwath HTL is gaining not one but two eminent hospitality leaders, HOTELS has learned.
Dorothy Dowling, formerly of Best Western, where she spent the last 18 years as chief marketing officer, and Melissa Maher, who was with Expedia Group for the last 21 years in various positions, including chief marketing officer, are joining Horwath as managing directors, where they will lend their decades of knowledge and experience to help clients realize their profitability goals within the hospitality segment.
For Horwath, gaining two luminaries of the hospitality industry is a huge get. For Dowling, it’s a bit bittersweet. When the former CEO of BWH Hotel Group David Kong announced his retirement in 2021, Dowling was in consideration to take over the top leadership role, but it ended up going to now-CEO Larry Cuculic. “I had accomplished everything that I had wanted to as a CMO,” Dowling told HOTELS, admitting she did depart Best Western with a heavy heart. Being in the same role with the same company for so long will have that effect.
The upshot for Dowling is what she called a “new journey,” to support the hotelier community. After leaving Best Western, she took six months to reset before taking the opportunity at Horwath, enticed by John Fareed, the global chairman of Horwath HTL.
“I made a definitive decision to go back into the consulting world because I have 40 years of experience and bring well-honed, subject-matter expertise,” Dowling said. Coming to Horwath is full circle for Dowling, who years prior worked for Laventhol & Horwath, which later became Horwath. “When someone hires a consultant today, they want speed to market, they want subject-matter expertise and they want to trust that consulting recommendation. To me, this is the perfect next chapter.”
In the wake of Dowling leaving Best Western, she was contacted by many recruiters about leadership roles. Dowling is very clear: “I don’t want to be in the driver’s seat anymore. I want to be a co-pilot, helping others achieve their dreams.”
She’s already in collaborative consulting mode when it comes to the hospitality industry. “I think there is going to be some pricing erosion going into 2023 off a fabulous 2022,” she said. Coming out of COVID, Dowling believes that there needs to be a de-balkanization of how hotel businesses operate around commercial decision-making. “It really is a convergence of sales, marketing and revenue management and helping owners make the best possible use of their marketing and overall investments in customer experience. That is where I think I bring that because I’ve always been an owners’ marketer.”
After two decades at Expedia Group in various senior positions, Maher needed a break, leaving last February to focus on overall wellness, personal and professional development and, plainly, to spend more time with friends and family. “During the past year, I’ve traveled to many new places without being completely tied to my laptop,” she said, even getting to play a round of golf at the famed St. Andrews in Scotland.
After a year off, she felt the itch to jump back into work, pairing with Horwath to help nurture careers and take on strategic and practical problem-solving initiatives. “Advisory is a great way to build additional leadership experience, widen my network in hospitality and other sectors, and view challenges and opportunities from a new perspective,” Maher said, excited over the prospect of working on a wide range of projects and finding creative solutions.
“I am a problem solver and love to help people with some of their tough challenges,” she said, “especially in our ever-changing and complex industry.”
Maher’s career in hospitality started early—high school. It was her first job then. Since then, it’s been a meteoric rise, from front desk to helping steer one of the biggest online travel agencies in the world. “I’ve built my career as a creative thinker while thinking both conceptually and practically and always concentrating on problem-solving. Those skills, along with the important skill of always being curious and credible, will be key components of my experience to bring forward as a consultant.”
Horwath HTL’s is fully focused on hotel, tourism and leisure consulting, with services covering all aspects of hotel real estate, tourism and leisure development.