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Retirement Rebound: Melissa Maher and Dorothy Dowling Join Horwath HTL

Have we found the Tom Bradys of the hotel industry? The race to see who can be busiest in “retirement” has heated up between two industry legends––Melissa Maher, the former CMO of Expedia, and Dorothy Dowling, the former CMO of Best Western. As of today both have joined Horwath HTL, the world’s only independent advisory brand focused one hundred percent on hospitality, tourism, and leisure development, as Managing Directors.

Inspiring women in hospitality Dorothy Dowling and Melissa Maher Horwath HTL

From the outside, it seems these longtime friends and collaborators are set to outdo one another as the busiest “retirees” on the planet. Just last week, Dorothy joined the team at DEI Advisors, and the week before that, they both joined the board of directors at the newly formed StayBoutique.


Their respective catalogs of advisor and board roles continue with Dorothy involved with HSMAI, Commit Advertising Agency, and WINiT by GBTA, as well as CubeSmart, a real estate investment trust and the third largest owner and operator of self-storage properties across the United States. Not to be outdone, Melissa serves on the board of Thayer Ventures and Women in Travel Thrive. She also volunteers for organizations she closely connects with, including the Lupus Foundation of America, Crystal Cove Conservancy, and the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth.

“Retirement wasn’t really the right word, maybe more like a pause for reflection.” –– Melissa Maher

We caught up with Melissa by phone and she admitted, “Retirement wasn’t really the right word, maybe more like a pause for reflection.” And what about all the feigned competition with Dorothy? She laughed, “We are absolutely thrilled to be working together. Dorothy and I met through WINiT by GBTA about 15 years ago and we’ve built a very strong and close friendship.”

“We are absolutely thrilled to be working together. Dorothy and I met through WINiT by GBTA about 15 years ago and we’ve built a very strong and close friendship.”

During her 21-year tenure at Expedia, Melissa not only led marketing for the online travel giant, but she also served as the Cheif Inclusion Officer, starting a DEI program from scratch about six years ago. “We began by tracking everything from interview candidates to percentages of women and minorities in various roles, then vowed to improve in all areas year over year. I’m really proud of all the progress at Expedia.”



Both Dorothy and Melissa are looking forward to joining Horwath to support global hospitality industry clients with go-to-market strategies to help grow scale, revenue, and profitability with services ranging from repositioning to commercial business planning and activation. They are also eager to assist hospitality companies with DEI programs and best practices, both have long been champions of gender equality in the workplace.


Melissa is based in Orange County, California, and Dorothy is in Scottsdale, Arizona. Horwath HTL currently operates 52 offices in 40 countries.


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