Public Affairs and Communications Committee

The Public Affairs and Communication Committee is composed of advocacy, public policy and communication specialists from the accommodation sector.

The purpose of the PACC is to provide strategic advice to the Accommodation Association Council on all public affairs, public policy and communications activities within the Australian Accommodation industry representing the broad base of members and our industry.

Chair of Public Affairs and Communications Committee Jon Stewart

Head of External Affairs, The Star Entertainment Group


Jon Stewart is Head of External Affairs for The Star Entertainment Group, Australia's largest integrated resorts and entertainment company, and operators of The Star Sydney, Treasury Brisbane and The Star Gold Coast. Jon is responsible for leading external engagement, including government relations and public policy, community engagement and industry affairs for the organisation.

Jon joined The Star Entertainment Group from American Express, where he was Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Sustainability, leading the organisation’s corporate affairs team in Australia and New Zealand and a member of the A/NZ executive leadership committee. Prior to this, Jon held senior leadership roles at Visa as Director of Government Affairs and Public Policy across 18 markets in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific, and at Sydney Airport, where he held a commercial strategy and corporate affairs role. Earlier in his career, Jon led the aviation division of the Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF), and also served as a senior political adviser in the NSW Parliament.

Jon is a graduate of the University of New South Wales (UNSW) with a Master of Business Administration (MBA), Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Economics, and has received executive education from Harvard Business School. Jon is a former member of the UNSW Academic Board and continues as a board member of a number of community and alumni organisations.

Deputy Chair Chris Waite

Director of Communications Australasia, IHG Hotels & Resorts


Chris Waite is Director of Communications – Japan, Australasia & Pacific (JAPAC) for IHG Hotels & Resorts. 

Appointed to the role in 2017, Chris sits on IHG’s Global Corporate Affairs EMEAA Leadership Team is responsible for building IHG’s reputation in the JAPAC region, including corporate communications, colleague engagement, responsible business and public affairs. 

Prior to his current role with IHG, Chris was based in Bangkok as APAC Head of Corporate Communications for Amadeus, and had previously worked in the UK for Flight Centre Travel group and Business Travel World Magazine. 
 

Madeleine Maher

PR & Partnerships Manager, Quest Apartment Hotels


Madeleine is a marketing communications and public relations professional with over six years’ experience across consumer brands, entertainment, property development and accommodation.

As the PR & Partnerships Manager for Quest Apartment Hotels, Madeleine oversees brand and corporate PR for the Quest brand globally. Madeleine holds a Bachelor of Communication (Public Relations) from Deakin University. 

Angie Christofis

Director of Public Relations & Communications, Wyndham Destinations Asia Pacific


Angie Christofis is a PR and communications leader with proven experience in all aspects of corporate communications and brand publicity. She has held the role of Director of PR & Communications for Wyndham Destinations Asia Pacific since 2018. In this role, Angie is responsible for the internal and external communications efforts for three vacation clubs, along with over 70 managed hotels and resorts across Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Indonesia, Thailand and Japan. Brands represented include Club Wyndham, Wyndham Grand, Wyndham, Ramada by Wyndham, and Days Inn by Wyndham. 

Angie helped establish, and has chaired the company’s WYNDGreen Sustainability Committee since 2018. She has been a member of the Australian Society of Travel Writers (ASTW) since 2017.
 

Jodi Clark

Director of Communications - TFE Hotels


From day one, Jodi Clark has been a passionate PR professional within a variety of roles in the travel and tourism industry. Always willing to broaden her skills and satisfy her curiosity, her career has spanned the globe – from Queensland’s Fraser Island to the Maldives, Clark has driven PR and communications strategies around the world. Living a travel-fuelled life has given her a global mindset, a chance to cultivate international contacts and helped her spin moments into stories that inspire others to see the world. 

Clark has woven tales on World Heritage sites, blogged about faraway destinations and even promoted ultra-luxe resorts for the rich and famous. Her passion for storytelling and communications extends to her collaborative work style, one that listens to the many voices within the company and spins them into a strong, admirable tone of voice.  She is a past member of the NSW Committee Media for Women in Media, a national mentoring and networking initiative; a member of the Australian Society of Travel Writers and a member of the Accommodation Association's Public Affairs and Communications Committee.
 

Michael Morcos

Group General Manager, Communications - Event Hospitality and Entertainment


Michael is an experienced strategic communications expert with over 15 years’ experience in communications, PR and brand across ANZ and APAC. He has proudly worked for some of Australia and New Zealand’s most respected and high-profile organisations across travel, corporate, media, technology and lifestyle, delivering award-winning campaigns for a range of audiences across a variety of communication channels. Michael has established and nurtured strong relationships across many industries and organisations, including with Australia and New Zealand’s most respected media, thought-leaders and influencers.
 
In his current role as Group General Manager, Communications for Event Hospitality and Entertainment, Michael oversees communications for some of Australia and New Zealand’s leading hotel brands including QT Hotels, Rydges Hotels, Atura, JUCY Snooze and the Independent Collection by EVENT. 

Claire Haigh

Director of Communications, Accor Pacific


An established communications leader who is committed to great results, Claire Haigh has delivered global integrated campaigns for some of the world’s biggest brands, including Coca-Cola, Oakley, Pernod Ricard and Accor hotels. Claire’s campaigns have a true commitment to creativity and quality, from strategic inception to measurement, which connect with global and local audiences. 

Claire is a champion for creative ideas and obsessed with positioning brands exactly where they need to be, from developing customer-focused strategy through to clearly communicated ideas and initiatives that convert into business growth.  

A winner of multiple marketing communications awards, Claire believes that a good reputation is earned and develops corporate and consumer campaigns inspired by cultural insights, sustainability, reputation management and thought leadership. 

Born in Manchester, England, Claire now lives and works in Sydney, Australia.
 

Melissa Rodrigues

Group Director of Brand & Marketing, Minor Hotels


With two decades of extensive industry experience working with a bevy of high-profile brands, Melissa Rodrigues is Minor Hotels’ Group Director of Brand & Marketing for Australia and New Zealand - where it currently holds a portfolio of over 60 properties under its Oaks Hotels, Resorts & Suites and Avani Hotels & Resorts brands.

Since joining the company in 2018, Melissa has successfully guided the brand and marketing strategy and provided thought leadership for the business. She has achieved exceptional growth in company revenue and overall brand measures, effectively led the corporate communications strategy, and demonstrated exceptional skill in negotiation and partner management at a global scale. An expert in the varying disciplines in marketing, digital and corporate communications, Melissa is a valuable mentor to her team, with a genuine approach to leadership. 

Prior to this, Melissa held senior brand & marketing positions at several prominent brands, including Qantas, P&O ANZ, Telstra, Menulog and Ninemsn.  

Melissa is based in Minor Hotels’ Sydney office.  
 

LJ Loch MComm (Law) BBusComm

CEO, Alpha Consulting


LJ is one of Asia-Pacific’s most experienced reputation protection and amplification experts. She brings extensive reputation management and crisis communications experience plus hands-on experience in handling just about every type of reputational crisis at an organizational and individual level.

She has almost three decades of experience in helping organisations, causes and individuals successfully grow their profiles and accentuate their positive proactively and reactively. She has worked at the highest levels of media, government and business across the globe.

This includes her highly effective campaign with Blackmores during and post the Pan Pharmaceuticals crisis as well as on major land contamination issues; drug crises; product recalls; prison breaks; asbestos; aviation incidents (including QF32) and numerous product safety issues. She has also successfully managed personal reputation issues for numerous high profile Australian individuals and Government.

Her media contacts are current and extensive, supported by her involvement with the NSW and National Committees of Women In Media (www.womeninmedia.net) and her work over almost three decades in working closely with senior journalists and media outlets.

LJ is also a seasoned speaker, speechwriter and media and presentation trainer. She regularly works with Chairs, CEOs and Senior Executives on major speeches and presentations. She is also Co-Founder of Outspoken Women.

Bassel Tallal

National General Manager for Advocacy and Public Policy, Accommodation Association


Bassel is passionate about achieving positive change in our community through good public policy outcomes. A highly skilled stakeholder engagement specialist with a specialty in advocacy and campaigns, Bassel brings a decade of experience in politics advising senior Cabinet Ministers, Members of Parliament, and senior executives.

As the National General Manager for Advocacy and Public Policy, Bassel has a passion for the accommodation sector and the people that work so hard within it. He has responsibility for identifying and influencing emerging trends, risks and opportunities in the Government and regulatory landscape and assisting the many members of the accommodation sector that keeps the Australian economy buzzing. 

Bassel is a highly experienced Corporate Affairs and Government Affairs advisor who enjoys specialist skills and experience in advocacy and campaigns and has previously worked for the Deputy Leader in the Australian Senate, the Federal Communications Minister, the Deputy Parliamentary Labor leader and most recently the Shadow Minister for National Reconstruction, Employment, Skills and Small Business.

Immediately prior to his current role, Bassel also served in the Special Projects function at respected accounting firm Smith Feutrill in response to the challenges posed by the most recent Covid-19 Victorian Lockdown.