GARY LEOPOLD Founding Partner

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Gary is a highly respected communications and branding expert who is known for developing innovative solutions to complex problems in the travel, hospitality and lifestyle categories. As the President and CEO of Boston-based marketing firm ISM, he spent nearly 30-years successfully helping to build and grow premier travel brands around the world. In 2013, he merged his firm with Connelly Partners where he served as the President of the agency's travel practice.

Among the many clients that have turned to Gary for his brand building skills are Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts; American Express; Emirates Airline; Harley-Davidson; Barbados Tourism Authority; The Islands Of The Bahamas; Saint Lucia; Hong Kong Tourism Authority; Best Western Hotels; Palace Resorts; Massachusetts Port Authority; The Walt Disney Company; Foxwoods Resort Casino; UNESCO; Tourism Cares; Blount Small Ship Adventures;; Abercrombie & Kent; and CIE Tours. Prior to starting ISM, Gary was the corporate director of public relations for the publicly traded Sonesta International Hotels Corporation, responsible for the communication activities for their hotel portfolio worldwide. 

Gary is a past president of the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI), the largest organization of travel and hotel sales executives in the world. He also served on the Board of the HSMAI Foundation. In addition, Gary served as the President of MAGNET, a consortia of 40 independent marketing firms around the globe, representing over $3 billion in total billings and nearly 3000 marketing and branding professionals.

A noted author and observer of travel trends, his publications include “The Art of Hotel Advertising” which was published by HSMAI. Gary's writings have appeared in HSMAI Marketing Review, Successful Meetings,, Business Travel News and The Boston Globe and he was a monthly columnist for MediaPost Marketing: Travel ( In addition, Gary has taught and lectured on travel marketing at Cornell, Boston University, University of New Hampshire and many other colleges and organizations.

Gary's work in advertising, branding and marketing has garnered awards from many organizations, including HSMAI, Direct Marketing Association, New England Direct Marketing Association, Public Relations Society of America, American Hotels & Lodging Association, and the American Society of Association Executives,In 2004, Gary was recognized with the HSMAI Albert E. Koehl Award for Lifetime Achievement in Travel Advertising and Marketing—joining a prominent list of previous recipients including Richard Branson, Ian Schrager and Bill Marriott.

I can always count on Gary to bring something valuable to the discussion. His experience, insight and ideas consistently led us to better solutions and more impactful results.

TAMMY LUCAS VP Marketing Best Western Hotels