Ernest (Ernie) Wooden, Jr., a long-time senior hospitality industry executive and Los Angeles-area resident since 1999, has been named President and CEO of the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board (LA Tourism), it was announced today by Tom Mullen, LA Tourism’s Chairman of the Board. He succeeds Mark Liberman who served in the role since 2003 and announced his retirement this past May.
Wooden has spent his entire career in the hospitality industry, including more than a decade in senior leadership positions in both global brand management and operations with Hilton Hotels Corporation. As Executive Vice President, Global Brand Management for Hilton, based in Beverly Hills, Calif., he led all worldwide branding initiatives for the well-known hotel corporation, working with 3,000 properties in 80 countries. His operations roles at Hilton included overseeing territories in Mexico, the Caribbean and across the U.S. In addition, Wooden has also worked with such top hospitality brands as Sheraton Hotels and Resorts, Omni Hotels & Resorts, Doubletree by Hilton and Promus Hotel Corporation. Currently, he is the Chief Executive Officer of Creative Consulting, a hotel consulting practice providing hotel operation, valuation and brand selection and analysis services. Prior to forming the consulting practice, he was Executive Vice President and Senior Managing Director at Alagem Capital Group, a privately owned, diversified investment group which owns the Beverly Hilton Hotel, amongst other high-profile properties, where he was responsible for identifying and exploring potential international hospitality investments.
“Tourism is a cornerstone of the City’s bright future given the many exciting developments on the horizon," said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. “Ernie has the industry experience and knowledge to help us grow our convention and tourism business -- ensuring Los Angeles is a leading destination of choice for visitors from around the world for years to come.”
“At the helm of our tourism engine, Mark successfully steered our industry through and out of the recession to enjoy record highs, including record-breaking hotel occupancy this year on our way to another projected record-high visitation year. I have enjoyed working closely with Mark and congratulate him on his successes over the years,” said Mullen. “Moving forward, we are very pleased to welcome someone with Ernie’s depth of global hospitality branding and operations experience. He is known in the industry for building relationships and driving business results, and we look forward to working with him to capitalize on the momentum our tourism industry is enjoying.”
A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Wooden holds both a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in management science from Thomas Edison State College and is currently pursuing a doctorate from the International School of Management, Paris, France. He will officially join LA Tourism in January, 2013.
Last year, Los Angeles welcomed a record 40.4 million visitors from around the globe, making it one of the most visited destinations in the U.S. and with the second highest share of overseas visitors to the U.S. (13.1 percent). LA Tourism expects to set another visitation record in 2012, with projected visitation exceeding 41.3 million. Tourism is a leading industry in Los Angeles, supporting 372,000 jobs and contributing more than $15 billion in economic impact.
The Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board was created in 1977 as a private, not-for-profit business association. It is recognized as the official branding, sales and marketing organization for Los Angeles, responsible for developing leisure and meetings business for the economic benefit of the community.