ITM is dedicated to successful client relationships
Comprised of hospitality industry professionals, ITM’s Executive Team has extensive experience in sales, marketing and strategic media planning and buying. Their experience includes working worldwide including luxury, lifestyle, and small chain properties.
Jody B. Merl, President
As Founder and President of Innovative Travel Marketing (ITM), launched in 1992, Jody Merl created the only media planning and buying company for the hospitality and travel sector using barter as a financial tool. Rooted in Jody’s highly specialized expertise, ITM couples its exceptional relationships with media corporations to enable clients to expand their cash marketing budgets and create trade-based budgets by monetizing unsold rooms as ‘currency’ to fund marketing.
Jody has evolved ITM into the most highly regarded, media planning and buying firm for the travel industry. She has not only forged solid relationships with an array of companies, from Ian Schrager Hotels to The Breakers Palm Beach and the Denihan Hospitality Group, but earned renown for saving hotel and travel companies millions of dollars by monetizing perishable, unsold inventory that could have gone to waste. In recognition of her success, Hotel Sales & Marketing Association International has honored Jody among its prestigious “Top 25 Most Extraordinary Minds in Sales & Marketing” for 2010. Her recently expanded Newspaper Print and Digital division affords global multi-cultural reach for a broad category of clients.
With the success of ITM as a barter company and the growth of her hotel room inventory, Ms. Merl co-founded and endowed the ITM Hospitality Fund, a New York City-wide program that provides no-cost hotel rooms to needy patients and their families who face the daunting expense of traveling to Manhattan for critical medical treatment. She has been featured as a “New Yorker of the Week” on New York 1 News and received a Golden Bell Award for Community Service in recognition of her creation of the ITM Hospitality Fund. Ms. Merl won the first HSMAI Professional of the Year Award in 2004.
Debbie Durso, Vice President, Media Director
Debbie Durso combines an extensive background of advertising agency and barter industry experience. She is responsible for managing the Media Department, nurturing client relationships, and developing new trade relationships with all media. Debbie is dedicated to maintaining a high level of service with ITM’s long-standing media partners and clients.
Michelle Walsh, Associate Media Director
Michelle Walsh is an experienced media planner and buyer who customizes inspired campaigns utilizing print, digital, broadcast and out-of-home advertising. A key force in ITM’s exclusive team of media strategists, Michelle manages all aspects of planning, negotiation, premium positioning and added-value. Her great attention to detail and transparency yield enthusiastic relationships among clients and media companies alike, and her commitment to optimize every media budget — whether cash, trade or both — earn ITM a track record of tremendous client loyalty.
Michelle is an avid reader, yoga enthusiast and culturally inquisitive traveler, who still cherishes fond memories of her six-month educational sojourn in Argentina, where she bolstered her conversational Spanish. She holds Bachelors and Masters of Arts degrees in English, respectively, from The College of New Jersey and William Paterson University, and a certificate of study at the University of Belgrano in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Tessie Remo, Director of Client Services
Tessie Remo contributes to the excellent relationships with ITM’s hotel and media clients by ensuring their specific needs are met. A long-standing member of the Executive Team, she oversees all ITM reservations for individuals and groups and is also responsible for the management and distribution of hotel inventory and merchandise. Her background is in hotel sales and reservations having worked in corporate and group sales for Oberoi Hotels, The Warwick New York and the New York Helmsley Hotel.