In a showcase of female power in the travel industry, a group of influential female leaders in the industry have come together to talk about the barriers in the industry that they had to overcome in order to successfully make it to the top.
In the past few years, a growing number of female leaders in the travel industry have come together to create a network to support their efforts to pioneer a better future for sustainable travel and sustainable tourism.
There has been some debate in recent years about the role of women in the travel industry. Some say it has been dominated by men, while others say this is not the case. Whatever the case may be, women have definitely made a mark in the industry. Last week, the Crystal Cruises Ladies Club gathered for a special event at the Radisson Blu Hotel in London on Thursday. The ladies club is a group of female leaders in the travel industry that meet regularly and discuss travel trends and ideas.
The Female Leaders in Travel Conclave strives to encourage women in the travel industry to achieve new heights, and this year’s conference took on a new significance for the participants.
Jennifer Doncsecz, President of VIP Vacations and Chair of the Travel A.L.L.I.E.S. Society, arranged a gathering at Secrets The Vine in Cancun in June that drew 58 women.
The Female Professionals in Travel Conclave was attended by industry leaders such as Paula Hayes, Vice President of Sales for the Globus Family of Brands, who received this year’s Luminary Award, and Annette Comer, author of Rescue Me, who gave the keynote address.
“The Female Leaders in Travel Conclave was conducted for the third year in a row. The goal of this event is for women to get together and feel supported, respected, and encouraged so that they may advance in their careers,” Doncsecz said. “At the core of the event is improving leadership abilities; nevertheless, the true takeaway is that these women develop deep connections with one another, forming a unique tribe. During the preceding 18 months, the women who attended prior conclaves assisted one another in coping with the impact COVID-19 had on the tourism sector. We discussed plans, tactics, and gave each other advise… The theme of last year’s conclave was coping with disturbance and being helpful. This year, it was all about learning from COVID-19’s teachings so that we could become stronger!”
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The Conclave of Female Leaders in Travel is not your typical networking event. Instead of the usual ice-breakers, it starts with vulnerability, asking, “What pain or suffering did you learn from this past year?” True friends are formed through sharing personal tales of adversity.
Lori Speers, owner of Levarté Travel, says she discovered her “tribe” during this year’s event: “I took the difficult choice to start my own company. I quit a well-paid job as the director of a host agency and turned down a lucrative opportunity to head another company’s host agency in order to start my own. I’m 58 years old and used to work for a fantastic company. But now I had to be a business owner and a better leader, and I had to face my anxieties every day! Attending the Female Leaders in Travel Conclave has helped me grow as a person and a leader. I’ve polished my abilities and learned new ones. Not only that, but I also have a strong sense of belonging to a group of women that I know I can rely on in any situation. I’m part of a group!”
Women have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic; according to Facebook’s Global State of Small Business Report, published in April 2023, 27 percent of women-owned small businesses around the world have closed as a result of the pandemic, compared to 21 percent of men-owned small businesses.
Furthermore, according to the latest data from the World Travel and Tourism Council, women make up 54 percent of the global travel and tourism sector, yet just a fraction of that amount holds important leadership roles.
Vanessa McGovern is the Co-Founder & Chief Sales Officer of the Gifted Travel Network. She’s attended the Female Leaders in Travel Conclave twice. “We need more unification in our industry from all segments so we can elevate the status of our profession to consumers, media and lawmakers. Coming together to learn from one another so we can uplift and grow is how we can continue to move forward in a meaningful way. There is so much to learn between agency leaders and partners. This event broke down walls with partners and created the space for us to truly learn from several powerhouse women in global sales roles on how they lead.”
The Travel A.L.L.I.E.S. Society, which assists travel agency leaders in their leadership positions, hosts the Female Leaders in Travel Conclave. Members of the society will be invited to all of the society’s activities before the general public is informed. The Young Leaders in Travel Council will meet from September 16 to 19 at the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall in Jamaica, while the ELEVATE Leaders in Travel Symposium will take place from October 9 to 12 at Secrets Riviera Maya.
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