NewsFebruary 10, 2020

ISHC Honors Marilyn Carlson Nelson with the Pioneer Award at ALIS

From Left to Right: Cecilia Gordon, ISHC, Co-Chair, Goulston & Storrs Hospitality & Recreation Industry Group; Andrea Belfanti, Executive Director, ISHC; Marilyn Carlson Nelson, Co-CEO, Carlson Holdings, Inc. & Pioneer Award Recipient; Jeff Higley, President, The BHN Group; Chris Cylke, ISHC, Chief Operating Officer of REVPAR International, Inc.

Los Angeles — February 10, 2020Under the leadership of Marilyn Carlson Nelson, Carlson became the first global travel and hospitality company in North America to sign the international Code of Conduct to protect children from sexual exploitation in the travel industry.

“Marilyn Carlson Nelson has been a pioneer in the hospitality industry through her career, in no way more so than her ground-breaking leadership in the industry’s work to combat human trafficking,” said Cecilia Gordon, President of the International Society of Hospitality Consultants (ISHC) and Co-Chair of Goulston & Storrs Hospitality & Recreation Industry Group.

The ISHC Pioneer Award was presented in partnership with the Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS) during the conference plenary session by Gordon and ISHC Chair Chris Cylke, Chief Operating Officer of REVPAR International, Inc. Upon receiving the award, Marilyn inspired the audience speaking about her three passions: that a business well-led is a force for good; inclusivity and being purposeful about who has a seat at the table; and awareness and action against human trafficking.

“Our industry has 53.4% women. We have 1 in 22 CEOs and 1 in 9 presidents (that are women). It doesn’t compute. In my company when I first became CEO, we had very few women executives. We became purposeful. We successfully identified, trained and promoted female talent,” said Nelson.

Marilyn Carlson Nelson is former chair and chief executive officer of Carlson, a global travel and hospitality company. She currently serves as a Co-CEO of Carlson Holdings, Inc.

Marilyn served as co-chair of the World Economic Forum, chair of the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board and chair of the National Women’s Business Council. Forbes named her one of “The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.” U.S. News and World Report called her one of “America’s Best Leaders.” She and Carlson were recently honored by the White House for pioneering work to combat human trafficking.

Nelson serves as Chair of Inspire Medical Systems, Inc., and Secretary of the National Endowment for Democracy. Nelson is an emeritus board member of the Chief Executives for Corporate Purpose (CECP), ExxonMobil, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the United Nations Global Compact. She is former chair of the Mayo Clinic Board of Trustees, chair of the Minnesota Orchestra and former co-chair of two Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committees.
Nelson graduated from Smith College with a degree in international economics and studied at the Sorbonne in Paris as well as the Institut des Hautes Etudes Economiques et Politiques in Geneva.

The ISHC Pioneer Award was established in 1996 to recognize an individual each year who has made an outstanding contribution, achievement and/or improvement in the hospitality industry. Winners are selected on a basis of three criteria: Active involvement in the hospitality industry; Contribution to the industry; and Personal/organizational attributes and qualities adhering to professional standards recognized and respected by industry peers. Past recipients include:

  • Jack DeBoer (2019)
  • Wing T. Chao (2018)
  • Ian Schrager (2017)
  • Lyndall DeMarco (2016)
  • Stephen Kaufer (2015)
  • Michael Bedner (2014)
  • Steve Rushmore (2013)
  • Chip Conley (2012)
  • Kathleen Taylor (2011)
  • Leland C. Pillsbury (2010)
  • J.W. Marriott (2009)
  • Jean Gabriel Peres (2008)
  • Stanley Selengut (2008)
  • Jean-Claude Baumgarten (2007)
  • James E. Burba (2007)
  • Stelios Haji-Ioannou (2006)
  • H.P. Rama (2006)
  • Costakis Loizou (2005)
  • Barry Sternlicht (2005)
  • Christel DeHaan (2004)
  • Regis Bulot (2004)
  • Bill Kimpton (2002)
  • Jonathan M. Tisch (2001)
  • Micheal A. Leven (2000)
  • Jack Vaughn (1999)
  • George Johnson (1998)
  • Randell A. Smith (1997)


For more information:
Lauren Marshall
Director of Membership & Marketing
+1 678.735.9453

About ISHC

The International Society of Hospitality Consultants is truly The Leading Source for Global Hospitality Expertise, represented by over two hundred of the industry’s most respected professionals from across six continents. Collectively, ISHC members provide expert services in over fifty functional areas and have specialized skills in virtually every segment of the hospitality industry. ISHC is dedicated to promoting the highest quality of professional consulting standards and practices for the hospitality industry. Candidates undergo a rigorous screening process, ensuring that all ISHC members have a reputation of integrity and are qualified by their experience, training and knowledge to develop and express sound judgment on industry issues. Additional information about the organization, along with a directory of ISHC members, is available on the ISHC website at               

About the Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS)

Produced by Northstar Travel Group in association with the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) and The BHN Group, the two-and-a-half-day ALIS event features an extensive array of seminars and panels hosted by leading experts and investors discussing important trends and identifying new opportunities. The conference attracts the lodging industry’s leading hotel executives, investors, lenders, developers and professional advisory community. ALIS 2020 took place January 27-29, 2020 at the JW Marriott and Microsoft Theater L.A. LIVE. Visit the ALIS website,, for additional information.

About Northstar Travel Group (

Northstar Travel Group is the leading B-to-B information and marketing solutions company serving all segments of the travel industry including leisure/retail, corporate/business travel, corporate and sports meetings, incentives, hospitality, and travel technology. Northstar is the owner of leading brands serving these travel segments. The company produces more than 100 face-to-face events in 13 countries in retail travel, hospitality, corporate travel, travel technology, sports travel, and the meetings & incentive industry. In addition, Northstar owns Phocuswright, the leading research, and event producer serving the travel technology industry. Northstar Travel Group owns The BHN Group, the leading producer of hotel investment conferences. Northstar is also the majority shareholder in Inntopia, the leading SaaS e-commerce software business serving the mountain destination, golf, activities, and hospitality markets. Based in Secaucus, NJ, the company has 14 offices in the U.S., UK, Singapore, and China. Northstar Travel Group is owned by funds managed by EagleTree Capital.

About The BHN Group

The BHN Group is the worldwide leader in developing and organizing conferences for the hotel and tourism investment community. With over three decades of experience, more than 160 events completed to-date, and in excess of 110,000 international delegates, these conferences have become “must attend” events for industry leaders who come together to network, conduct business, and to learn about the latest trends. The current slate of events include: the Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS) in Los Angeles; ALIS Law in Los Angeles; ALIS Summer Update; Alternative Ownership Conference Asia Pacific (AOCAP) in Singapore; Caribbean Hotel & Resort Investment Summit (CHRIS) in Miami; Hotel Investment Conference Asia Pacific (HICAP) in Hong Kong; HICAP UPDATE in Singapore; Hotel Investment Forum India (HIFI) in Mumbai; Hotel Opportunities Latin America (HOLA) conference in Miami; Hotel Investment Conference Europe (Hot.E) in London; and HICAP Australia New Zealand (HICAP ANZ) in Sydney. The BHN Group’s website at is the gateway for information about the annual conferences it produces, as well as a direct link to important players in the hospitality investment world.