The very sad – and sudden – passing away of former Hilton Australasian VP, Ashley Spencer, shocked everyone in the Australian hotel industry. He lost his battle with cancer just after Easter.
Ashley had been a major force in the Australian hotel industry since arriving from Singapore in 2007. His arrival here was part of a 27 year career with Hilton Worldwide, with his illustrious path taking him from the UK, through Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia before he took over as Vice President of Operations, Australasia.The name ‘Hilton’, of course, has worldwide cache in the hotel industry, but even more so in Australia, as it was the first international brand to launch in this country back in 1974.
Hilton’s arrival helped catapult the Australian hotel and tourism industry into a new orbit and paved the way for all the other international hotel groups to seek opportunities ‘down under’. Ashley followed a number of other legendary figures in charge of Hilton’s operations in this part of the world, and he more than lived up to that legacy. Despite having to face all the challenges that came with the Global Financial Crisis just a year after arriving, the Group not only overcame those hurdles but launched a new era of growth and development that helped revive the brand’s glory days. Hilton’s President for Asia Pacific, Martin Rinck, said that Ashley had been a pioneering force since moving to the Asia Pacific in the mid-2000s: “When Ashley was the Vice President for Asia, based in Singapore, he spearheaded Hilton’s growth across new territories with the development of new hotels and brands.
In 2007, Ashley re-located to Sydney, as Vice President Operations Australasia, and under his leadership Hilton Hotels & Resorts was not only consistently named number one hotel brand in Australia, the portfolio doubled in size.“Ashley set the bar high both personally and professionally and in doing so compelled those around him to succeed. Most importantly he was a trusted advisor and a true gentleman whose determination and strength and passion for our industry were indisputable.”
Tourism Accommodation Australia’s Acting CEO, Carol Giuseppi, said Spencer, who was a long-serving TAA Board Member, had made a significant contribution to Hilton’s success and growth in the eight years that he was at the helm of the Australasian operation, and he was also a tireless and enthusiastic supporter of the overall industry.“Hilton has a very special place in the Australian hotel industry because they were the first 5-star international brand to establish in this country, and Ashley ensured they continued to excel and innovate,” she said.“He was a true gentleman, always prepared to contribute to the wider industry and advocate on its behalf.“We were privileged to have him on the TAA Board for a number of years, and speaking on behalf of the TAA, his insight and good humour will be greatly missed. The Australian hotel industry has lost a genuine statesman.