Meet the BestCities Team

Kit Lykketoft profile image

Kit Lykketoft

Board Chair & Member of Executive Committee and Director of Convention, Copenhagen

Kit Lykketoft is the Director of the Copenhagen Convention Bureau.

Here she works to attract international association conferences, meetings and events to her home town.
Prior to this she has been a visiting research scholar at Parsons DESIS Lab in NYC, working with social innovation with the city of NY, following her eight years of building up MindLab within the Danish Government administration.

At MindLab Kit applied design driven and user focused processes to Danish policy-and reform making.
She also advised numerous other countries and large international organization on how to do this. She is a member of the Advisory Board to the UNDP Innovation Facility and co-writer to the book “Design for Policy”.
In her current position Kit is focused on identifying value besides growth, to support positive impact of the industry on all bottom lines. Kit holds an MA in History/Anthropology from University of Copenhagen and an Executive M.Sc from Oxford/HEC.

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Edward Koh

Incoming Board Chair & Member of Executive Committee and Executive Director Conventions, Meetings & Incentive Travel Experience Development Group, Singapore

Dr Edward Koh leads the Conventions, Meetings & Incentive Travel division of the Singapore Exhibition and Convention Bureau, a group under the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), since 2019. He provides strategic counsel to attract quality association congresses and corporate-driven events to Singapore, maintaining its position as a leading International Convention and Meetings destination. Edward also oversees local industry growth to further entrench Singapore as a business events destination.

In his previous appointment, Edward assumed the position of Executive Director, Southeast Asia since January 2015. Edward led the overall operations of STB in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia, Philippines and Brunei. He also oversaw all strategic planning and execution of marketing activities within these markets to champion Singapore as a compelling tourist destination.

Prior to that, Edward served as Executive Director for Southeast Asia I and International Group Planning in March 2014 where he led the Division in providing critical policy and planning support for the Regional Offices and working with in-market industry partners to drive tourism growth. He was the Executive Director for Strategy & Planning and Research & Incentives in November 2011, responsible for the provision of economic
analysis, consumer insights and market trends to the tourism sector.

Edward brings with him a wealth of experience and knowledge of the China market. He previously served as Deputy Regional Director for STB Greater China (2006-2008), where he was responsible for strategic planning and channel development to drive BTMICE traffic from China to Singapore. He subsequently assumed the role as Regional Director for STB Greater China (2008-2011), where he managed and oversaw five Regional Offices: Eastern China, Northern China, Southern China, Western China, and Hong Kong & Macau and provided strategic direction for his team to effectively promote Singapore as a compelling destination and hub for business and travel.

Before joining the STB, Edward spent 13 years at the Ministry of Manpower, where he held various positions in its Prosecution Unit, Manpower Policy Department, International Manpower Division and Contact Singapore. His last position was as the Regional Director (Greater China) for Contact Singapore and concurrently the Deputy Director (International Operations), International Manpower Division. He was also the Alternate Lead Negotiator (Movement of Natural Persons), China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (CSFTA) for the period of 2004-2005.

Edward graduated from the National University of Singapore in 1993 with a Bachelor of Science, and Beijing University in 2003 with a second Bachelor's degree (Chinese Language & Literature). He also holds a Master degree in Public Policy & Management (2007) from Tsinghua University, and a doctorate in Hotel & Tourism Management from Hong Kong Polytechnic University, School of Hotel & Tourism Management.

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Julia Swanson

Board Treasurer & Member of Executive Committee and Chief Executive Officer, Melbourne

Since joining MCB in 2010, Julia has led the business development, bidding, convention servicing, research and Government relations teams on the successful acquisition and delivery of some of the world’s largest and most prestigious business events. She has personally led the bids for some of the most highly acclaimed global medical conferences including the International AIDS Conference 2014, World Congress of Cardiology 2014 and the World Congress of Nephrology 2019.

Prior to joining MCB, Julia was the Area Director of Sales and Marketing VIC/SA/WA with IHG (InterContinental, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn hotels) overseeing the Sales
and Marketing performance of 8 hotels as well as new hotel openings across the region.

Julia holds a Bachelor of Business (Catering and Hotel Management) and a Masters of Business (Hospitality and Tourism Marketing). Her sales experience includes 13 years’ experience in a number of international hotel chains.

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Marco Oelschlegel, CMP

Director Conventions, Berlin

Marco has been working in the meetings industry for more than 15 years - as an event organizer and market manager for the UK, France and Spain. In 2017, he was promoted to Deputy Director Conventions of the Berlin Convention Office and heading the Business Development Team. Marco is passionate about Berlin, the city of Freedom - which has developed into one of the leading meeting destinations in the world. He as strongly believes in the Power of People of the BestCities Global Alliance - which he has been working with since Berlin's adhesion in 2012.

Marco Oelschlegel took over as head of the Berlin Convention Office (BCO) of visitBerlin on 15 January 2020.

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Corne Koch

Head of Convention Bureau, Cape Town

Corne Koch is the current Head of the Cape Town and Western Cape Convention Bureau.

Koch first entered the business tourism industry in 2003, joining the Gauteng Tourism Authority (a provincial Destination Marketing Organisation) as their Business Tourism Manager before taking on the role of Communications Manager at the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa in 2009.

She re-joined the Gauteng Tourism Authority once again in 2010 for another three year stint as Trade Development and Partnership Manager, marketing the brand locally and internationally before joining the bureau in her current capacity in 2014.

Prior to working in destination marketing, she was also involved in the field of Corporate Affairs, being responsible for the South African Chamber of Commerce’s annual meetings and convention for three years.

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Steen Jakobsen

Assistant Vice President, Dubai

Steen Jakobsen is the Assistant Vice President of Dubai Business Events and City Operations – the official convention bureau of Dubai, where he is responsible for the promotion and development of Dubai into one of the worlds’ leading destinations for business events. Prior to joining Dubai Business Events, Steen held a similar role as director of Copenhagen Convention Bureau for 8 years.

Steen is actively engaged in the global meeting industry. He served on the Board of Directors as 3rd Vice President of International Congress & Convention Association (ICCA) from 2008 - 2014.

He also served on the Board of Directors of Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC). From 2003 – 2007, Steen was chair of BestCities Global Alliance and today he serves on the Board of Directors of BestCities Global Alliance.

Before joining the Copenhagen Convention Bureau, Steen worked for the Danish government at the Ministry of Economic and Business Affairs. Steen holds a Master degree in Commerce and Commercial Law from Copenhagen Business School and the University of Sheffield.

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Sam Johnston

Manager, Dublin

I have managed the Dublin Convention Bureau for five years and also have a responsibility for the Convention Bureau in Cork, Kerry, Shannon Region and Galway.

My lucky day was in 2015 when I became Manager of Dublin Convention Bureau. I've worked in rural and urban DMOs since 1999, initially in leisure tourism but made the move to MICE in 2010 and haven't looked back. My early career involved welding equipment but left that after an incident involving nuclear submarines - ask me about that some day!

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Gustavo Staufert Buclon profile image

Gustavo Staufert Buclon

CEO, Guadalajara

Mr. Staufert graduated as a Chartered Accountant and did his master's in Finance and Hotel Markets. For 27 years, he was a prominent member of the Intercontinental
Hotels Group, which allowed him to gain experience in five countries and seven cities across the Mexican Republic. He has previously held the positions of President of the
Jalisco Hotel Association and President of Operation Smile A.C. in both Mexico and Honduras. Gustavo is President of the Latin American and Caribbean Association of Convention Bureaus. In 2014, he joined the Guadalajara Convention and Visitors Bureau’s board of directors, which he remains in charge of to date.

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John Solis

Senior Vice President of Sales & Client Services, Houston

John Solis joined the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau as vice president of sales in December 2010, after spending a year and a half consulting on sales strategy.

Solis retired from the San Antonio CVB as assistant executive director in 2008. During his tenure, he was involved in coordinating bids for citywide conventions and major events, including the 1996 NBA All-Star Weekend and the NCAA Men's and Women's Final Four Basketball Championships. His main responsibilities included managing the tactics and strategies related to marketing, public relations and the convention and tourism group sales and services efforts.

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David Noack Pérez

Director, Madrid

In the tourism industry since more than 20 years, David Noack joined the Spain Convention Bureau in 2002 as Director. At the SCB he was in charge of the umbrella organization that unites leading national suppliers- from hotels to congress centres and cities to event agencies in more than 50 cities around Spain.

After a five year period at the SCB David joined the Madrid Convention Bureau as Deputy Director. Since September 2012 he is the Director of the MCB, a non-profit organisation created by the City Council of Madrid in collaboration with a group of public and private companies from the sector, with a view to promoting Madrid as a city capable of hosting national and international meetings and aiming to enable these events from a technical and institutional viewpoint.

David is graduate in Tourism & Hospitality Management and he has a M.A. in European Tourism Management by the University of Bournemouth.

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Kana Nomoto

Director of Sales, Business Events Team, Tokyo

Kana is the Director of Sales at the Business Events Team at the Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau (TCVB). She joined TCVB in 2014 and has been actively fulfilling her role leading the international association meetings team. Her team has been enthusiastically working on bids and has won international association meetings including the International Society for Diseases of the Esophagus 2022 and the International Societies for Investigative Dermatology Meeting 2023.

She started her career in the meetings industry at the Japan Convention Bureau of the Japan National Tourism Organization back 20 years ago. Also, she was with the Yokohama Convention & Visitors Bureau Convention Sales Team for five-plus years. Over the years, she has kept in close communication with industry partners both in Japan and globally. In 2019, she spent a year training at an international core PCO in Canada.

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Michael Drake

Director of Sales, Meetings & Conventions, International & Canada, Vancouver

Michael Drake, joined Tourism Vancouver three years ago, as the Director of Sales, Meetings and Conventions. In this senior leadership role, Michael oversees Tourism Vancouver's Meetings & Incentives Global and Canadian sales team. His team includes Corporate, Association and Sports, along with their Ambassador program, called “The MIND Program”. Michael assumes the board level roll with our global alliance with “BestCities”, on behalf of Tourism Vancouver.

A Toronto transplant, Michael brings 20 years of hospitality sales experience to his role; including Director of Global Accounts at Hyatt Hotels and Associate Director Sales with Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Toronto.

A longtime supporter of SITE and a SITE Canada board member for 6 years. Other affiliations include MPI and ICCA. When not out promoting Vancouver, he is out skiing Whistler Mountain, hiking the Vancouver North Shore Mountains or finding a running route in the city he is visiting.

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Reyes López García

Alliance Business Development Chair and Head of Business Development, Madrid

Reyes Lopez joined Madrid Convention Bureau in January 2019 as the Head of Business Development overseeing the Madrid Destination Tourism Area.

Reyes started her career at the Marketing Department of Saunier Duval in Nantes and the British Embassy in Paris. She joined the original Campo de las Naciones Municipal Company, later renamed Madridec, as the Project Coordinator for the Municipal Palace of Congresses. She continued to pursue her career with Madrid Destino as Head of Corporate and Congress Department where she managed 15 venues for meetings and events.

Reyes graduated in Political Science and Sociology from Complutense University of Madrid. She also went for training at University of Nantes (France) and Lagrange College University in Atlanta (USA).

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Lesley Williams

Managing Director

Prior to joining BestCities Lesley was Head of Business Tourism for Marketing Edinburgh where her key focus was sourcing and bidding for international conferences for the city.

Lesley has served on a number of committees focused on raising the profile of Scotland as a world leading conference destination including involvement in the Annual Business Tourism for Scotland; as Deputy Chair of Business Tourism for Scotland; and also as Chair of ICCA UK and Ireland Chapter.

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Tia Daniels

Director, Business Development & Community Engagement

Tia is based in Denmark and brings more than 25 years of experience in the meetings and events industry, with many of her previous positions stationed in the US and Denmark. Her most recent roles include Director of Sales and Marketing at Konventum Hotel & Conference Center and International Senior Sales Manager, Congresses & Events at Bella Center in Copenhagen. She also worked for MCI Copenhagen, where she led the COP15 Hotel & Guest Relations team through one of the city’s largest conferences in history with over 30,000 delegates in attendance. During her time in Houston (1995 – 2008), Tia worked at Hilton Houston Post Oak and the Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa, in roles such as Convention Service Manager and Corporate Sales and Service Manager.

Throughout her seasoned career, Tia has worked with a vast array of associations and corporations. She has also remained active within the MPI and PCMA communities, and regularly forges new connections at IMEX, IBTM and other industry events.

Now, as Director, Business Development & Community Engagement for BestCities Global Alliance, Tia will focus on helping partners and clients develop experiences that leave a positive and lasting legacy in the world, while raising BestCities’ profile in the corporate and incentive market. She will also ensure forward momentum on BestCities’ legacy commitments by working in collaboration with members and supporting key initiatives such as The Madrid Challenge, Copenhagen Legacy Lab, and Incredible Impacts Programme.

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Nigel Brown

Director, Marketing & Partnerships

Nigel started his career at the head office of the International Congress & Convention Association (ICCA) in Amsterdam. He was part of the event organizing team of the association and served 7 years organizing a host of events on all continents. During his tenure he gained extensive project management skills and was responsible for implementing new technologies at ICCA events. Prior to joining the team Nigel worked as Project Manager for Singex Exhibition Ventures, the event organizing arm of the Singapore EXPO.

During his period at Singex he gained experience working on trade & consumer shows and conferences. This all-round experience has given him insights into both the client and supplier sides of the events industry.

Nigel holds a Bachelor of Hotel Administration, Bachelor of European Hospitality Management from the Hotelschool The Hague and a culinary diploma from the Amsterdam College of Hotel and Gastronomy.

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Sonu Purhar

PR Manager

Sonu Purhar is a communications and marketing professional with more than a decade of experience leading multifaceted projects, captivating campaigns and strategic corporate communications for destination marketing organizations, corporate and government organizations, and tourism businesses.

As the founder and director of Crafted INK Consulting Inc., Sonu provides corporate communications, media and public relations support for several organizations, including Destination Canada, the country’s tourism marketing agency; Destination British Columbia, the province’s tourism marketing organization; Vancouver Economic Commission, the city’s economic development agency; Martini Film Studios, a major film studio located in Langley, BC; and several public relations firms whose clients span hotels and resorts, festivals and events, restaurants and vineyards, cannabis companies and more. For BestCities Global Alliance, she provides strategic public relations and content creation.

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Marlieke Kemp-Janssen

Marketing Project Manager

As founder and managing director of Aureum Hospitality Advisers, Marlieke provides personable and results-driven revenue management and digital marketing solutions to companies in and beyond the hospitality industry.

Marlieke has over 10 years of experience in the international hotel industry. She held positions as Revenue Manager, Ecommerce Manager, Digital Marketing Manager and Marketing Communications Manager in luxury (branded) hotels.

Combining all her experience she successfully helped other businesses grow by implementing proven revenue management and digital marketing strategies.

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Caryn Wong

Associate, Alliance Operations

Based in Kuala Lumpur, Caryn joined the team as its Management Assistant in July 2012. She provides management support to the company's Corporate Office and also works closely with GainingEdge's Asian Office to build and manage its Asian clientele.

Prior to joining the team Caryn worked for one of Malaysia's leading destination management company and professional congress organiser where she served as a personal assistant to the Group Managing Director of Asian Overland Services Tours and Travel and AOS Conventions & Events for 14 years. Earlier in her career, Caryn has worked as a Secretary to the Owner/Accountant of a Malaysian based accounting firm, which later became internationally affiliated and provided administration support in a property development company.

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