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TravelAge West’s Excellence in Leadership Award honors an individual who, in the course of his or her career in travel and tourism, has consistently demonstrated leadership and insight, effected change or innovation and made extraordinary contributions to organizations and the industry at large. For 2015, TravelAge West is thrilled to honor Jack Richards, who serves as president and CEO of Pleasant Holidays, one of the largest privately-owned travel companies in the U.S. and a subsidiary of the Automobile Club of Southern California.
“Jack’s strategic vision is always focused on growing business for Pleasant Holidays by growing business opportunities for our travel agent partners,” said Amy Terada, vice president of marketing for Pleasant Holidays. “Under his tactical direction, Pleasant Holidays has expanded its portfolio to offer the current must-experience destinations and cruise itineraries, and he has personally worked with industry partners to offer exclusive packages that drive business. Jack’s leadership has been the driving force resulting in Pleasant Holidays’ evolution to become much more than just Hawaii.”
Since joining Pleasant Holidays in 2007, Richards has pursued a destination and cruise product expansion strategy, launching travel packages to the Caribbean, Europe, Central America, the U.S. and Canada, as well as European and American river cruise packages.
The company, which is headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., with offices in San Diego and Honolulu, provides vacation packages and related travel services through its portfolio of four brands.
Pleasant Holidays has won the WAVE Award for Best Tour Operator, Hawaii for eight consecutive years, in addition to numerous Travel Weekly Readers Choice Awards.
Prior to his appointment at Pleasant Holidays, Richards spent four years with Hotels.com/Expedia, Inc. as vice president and senior vice president of product marketing and strategy. From 1999 to 2003, he held positions including president, CEO, senior vice president and COO with America West Vacations. He also served eight years with Adventure Tours USA in Dallas as president, CEO, senior vice president and COO.
Richards has been a member of Starwood Hotels & Resorts’ leisure travel advisory board since 2008. He served on the board of directors for Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau from 2008 to 2014 and has also been on the America West Education Foundation advisory board and the board for the Scottsdale, Ariz., Pop Warner youth football league.
The 20-year-plus industry veteran earned a Master of Arts in international relations from The University of Akron, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Kent State University.