by Leo Jakobson | January 31, 2013
Today, it was announced that meetings and incentive industry veteran George Aguel has taken over as the president and CEO of Visit Orlando, the tourism bureau of one of the top meetings and conventions destinations in the country.

Aguel had served as senior vice president of worldwide sales and services for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts for 22 years, before relinquishing his meetings and incentives industry role to take a post managing the entire company’s strategic corporate alliance agreements last June. He was chairman of Visit Orlando’s board from 2009 to 2010, and has served as vice chairman of the Central Florida Sports Commission and a member of the Orange County Tourist Development Council.

“Orlando is a world-class destination and the Visit Orlando team is highly respected amongst its peers and the industry,” Aguel said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to working with the team and to have the opportunity to represent the destination and the company.” 

Aguel replaces former Visit Orlando President and CEO Gary Sain, who passed away of a heart attack in May 2012. 

“George is an incredibly accomplished industry leader, with extensive experience in both leisure and business travel,” said Paul Mears III, chair of the Visit Orlando board of directors, in a statement. “His knowledge of the meetings and conventions industry, as well as his relationships throughout the travel and tourism segment, matches perfectly with the criteria that our search committee identified as priorities.”

Aguel has long been an industry leader in the meetings industry. He is a past chairman of Meeting Professionals International and has held board and executive committee positions with the American Society of Association Executives, the Professional Convention Management Association, the U. S. Travel Association (USTA), and the Convention Industry Council, among others.

In 2010, he was profiled as a Successful MeetingsVisionary for his work in the meetings, incentives, conventions, and exhibitions (MICE) industry.

Aguel was also tapped to represent the entire MICE industry as a founding member of the USTA’s Meetings, Incentives and Trade Show Council. It was formed in 2010 to give the industry a public face and voice in the aftermath of the bad publicity surrounding an AIG incentive trip at the height the financial industry bailouts in 2008 and 2009. 

As head of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Aguel’s responsibilities included overseeing the Resort/Park Sales and Services teams, the Disney Event Group, and the Disney Institute, which provides professional development training and consulting services to U.S. and international corporations. This gave him experience in many facets of the meetings industry, from convention services and catering sales and operations, to trade marketing and the Disney Cruise Line’s charter and incentive business. He also oversaw Disney’s internal corporate meetings and events.

“After nearly 23 years as an Orlando resident, my desire to serve this community has never been stronger,” Aguel said. “It’s an honor to have the opportunity to lead this highly respected team toward ensuring that Orlando not only remains the vibrant travel brand it is today, but continues to be positioned for prosperity in the decades to come.”