Forbes Travel Guide CEO Achieves Five Stars

Forbes Travel Guide CEO Achieves Five Stars

Miguel Forbes interviews Jerry Inzerillo, CEO of Forbes Travel Guide

They discussed the companies beginning, the rapid expansion (60+ countries), & plans for the future of the hospitality industry's outlook and investments they are making all over the world. 


Forbes Travel Guide celebrated its 2017 Star Award winners in a two-day event at The Pierre, A Taj Hotel, New York in New York City. The kickoff, a lavish black-tie gala for Five-Star honorees, drew the hospitality industry’s top players, who represented more than 60 countries, along with some surprise A-list guests. TV host and celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz and actor and hotelier Robert De Niro (of Nobu Hospitality) were among those in attendance in The Pierre’s Grand Ballroom.

De Niro charmed the crowd of more than 350 people when he took to the glass lectern to share funny anecdotes and introduce Forbes Travel Guide CEO Gerard J. Inzerillo, the evening’s host.

Forbes Travel Guide CEO Jerry Inzerillo.

Forbes Travel Guide CEO Jerry Inzerillo.

Miguel Forbes

I recently attended the Forbes Travel Guide annual event hosted at the Pierre Hotel in New York City. I serve on the board of directors and it has been astounding to see FTG CEO Jerry Inzerillo and his team take the world by storm expanding the Forbes Five Star awards for hotels, restaurants and spas globally at an explosive pace.  Mr. Inzerillo is one of those rare tireless executives that above else values his relationships with celebrities, billionaires and the everyday worker equally and whole heartedly. Jerry has rocked the hospitality industry returning the focus to the experience rather than just discounts.

Miguel Forbes: You recently held the Forbes Travel Guide awards in New York at the Pierre Hotel what can you tell us about that?

Jerry Inzerillo: “Our 2017 Star Awards event was a wonderful two-day celebration of the best hotels, restaurants and spas in the world. One of the highlights was the Five-Star Gala at The Pierre. It was one of those remarkable evenings when the elite of our industry gathers under one roof to celebrate their success, catch up with each other and revel in the opportunity to honor some hospitality greats — we were fortunate to have the company of Steve WynnHorst Schulze and Rakesh Sarna, who all shared thoughtful speeches with our winners. Each in his own way paid tribute to those who truly earn those the awards — the staff. It also was a star-studded evening: We welcomed several celebrities, including Robert De Niro and Dr. Mehmet Oz.” 

Robert De Niro of Nobu Hospitality and Alan Faena of new Five-Star Faena Hotel Miami Beach say hello at the Forbes Travel Guide gala.  

Photo Credit: Camp Art Productions and Don Camp

Miguel Forbes: What is the mission of the Forbes Travel Guide?

Jerry Inzerillo: “Our corporate statement is...

‘We verify luxury,’

which tells the story of our mission. We strive to remain the global authority on luxury travel experiences for consumers. We are the only authentic and reliable source of information when it comes to choosing where to stay, dine and spa. In plain English, our guests tell us we’re the only ones they trust! On a more granular level, we hold every member of the Forbes Travel Guide team to the highest expectation of operational integrity. Our team members are in more than 200 hotels each week in their various capacities, observing service and talking with the owners, operators, management and staff. 
We define ourselves as a team of innkeepers serving innkeepers. We encourage, motivate and inspire properties to be the best they can be all while staying true to our core mission, which is to seek out the very best properties in the world on behalf of today’s sophisticated luxury consumer.”
Inzerillo poses with the award-winning team from ARIA and ARIA Sky Suites.

Inzerillo poses with the award-winning team from ARIA and ARIA Sky Suites.

Miguel ForbesForbes Travel Guide was formerly Mobil Travel Guide can you explain the transition?

Jerry Inzerillo: “We began as Mobil Travel Guide back in 1958. Mobil created guidebooks and sold them at its gas stations to encourage people to take more road trips and thereby consume more gas. The guidebooks thrived and became the go-to resource for travelers in North America. When Mobil and Exxon merged in 1999, Exxon Mobil decided to focus on research and development. Our now-chairman, Jeff Arnold, acquired the rights to the guidebook and its Five-Star Rating system in 2005. Jeff is an internet visionary — he was behind, HowStuffWorks and WebMD — and aimed to bring travel online in a big way. He wanted to focus on the luxury segment, so we dropped the one- and two-star properties and made it our mission to seek out the best hotels, restaurants and spas in the world. With that plan in place, we then had to find a brand partner that was in line with our new mission. Forbes proved to be the perfect partner.”

Miguel Forbes: Forbes Travel Guide has experience tremendous growth since you took the helm please share the journey.

Inzerillo: “As the originators of the our journey started in 1958, though in 2015 we made a serious commitment to take the company global. Over a period of just three years, we accelerated our growth, organically increasing our coverage from five countries to 60, and within a few years we will be in hundreds of countries." That is an expansion rate of 1,100% in just three years. 

Miguel Forbes: You have plans for significant expansion what can you share on that?

Jerry Inzerillo: “We recently opened our newest office in Dubai to support our Rating inspections, which are underway in Marrakech, Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The addition of these destinations brings the Middle East and Africa on line for us, which is extremely exciting.

Forbes Travel Guide Expansion

Opened office in Dubai to support Rating inspections & Expansion 

The inaugural Star Ratings for those regions will debut in February 2018, along with more than a dozen more new cities in the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe and Asia. Jamaica, Panama City, Vienna, Amsterdam and Okinawa will be among the new destinations.
Our pace of growth is not slowing down, and we are already deeply vested in our five-year year growth plan, which includes hundreds more properties across India, Africa, South Africa and New Zealand, to name a few.”

Miguel Forbes: What would you tell our readers that want to benefit from the Forbes Travel Guide expertise?

Jerry Inzerillo: “The online travel landscape is filled with confusion and clutter. Forbes Travel Guide cuts through all of that to provide unbiased, verified and expert information to help you make informed decisions. We have a team of experienced inspectors who anonymously evaluate properties against up to 800 rigorous and objective standards, so you can trust any hotel that earns one of our ratings. We are honored that the press and our guests refer to us as the ‘Olympics of Luxury Hospitality’ because it takes such a great commitment to service and emotional longevity to gain a Forbes Travel Guide Star Rating.”
This expansion effort now means that Forbes Travel Guide has rated more than 1,400 Star-Rated properties around the world, further cementing our globalized and geographically sensitive requirements into the standard operating procedures of those hotels, restaurants and spas across hundreds of destinations in the Americas, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific.”

Miguel Forbes


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