Celebrating International Women’s Day 2016: What Lessons for the Travel and Tourism Industry?

Celebrating International Women’s Day 2016: What Lessons for the Travel and Tourism Industry?

As I prepare to launch the first ever Women in Travel meetup at the forthcoming Arabian Travel Market in just over a month, I reflect on the fact that only last week we celebrated International Women’s Day (IWD) here in London and worldwide and I attended a number of interesting events throughout the week.

With my passion for supporting women realise their potential utterly intact after twelve years of work in this area, what have I actually learnt? What can be helpful to women in travel?

So here are a few relevant points to consider:

#1 – It is important to have women focussed events, as focal point and an anchor.

Which is why I believe that IWD still has a reason to exist and why Women in Travel has also been well received by women in the international industry.

The fact is, everything that matters need to have a focal point, a greater momentum and an anchor. That is what IWD is for millions of women worldwide who want to see change, equality of opportunities, recognition. As women in the travel industry we also want to achieve those outcomes and discuss important matters using platform that provide the widest audience.

#2 – Women issues are mankind issues

As women make up half of the planet, we cannot treat women issues as minority issues!

This stands in the travel and tourism industry where women make up between 50% and 70% of the working population in most countries. So, if we improve the working opportunity of women we actually make life better for all employees, create a more sustainable industry and ultimately everyone gains.

#3 – Men are welcome

As in other sectors of the economies, top spots in travel are still predominantly in the hands of men. So we need men to come on board, join the conversation, appreciate the importance of acting of role models for the sake of their daughters, sisters and so on.

Women in Travel meetup events are open to all!

#4 – Can’t Wait – Must Act

As I heard many times this past week, we cannot wait for things to happen to us, we must take action! Grassroots movements are critically important to create and continue momentum, which is exactly what I set out to do with Women in Travel meetup. An ocean of little waves creates the perfect storm!

#5 – Bring all of yourself to work

This was another recurrent theme in the week, one to which I totally subscribe. There is no point in being somebody else’s bad copy, much better to be a first rate self!

This is true for men and women everywhere – there is no leadership without authenticity. So rather than adopting a behaviour just because we think this is the accepted status quo, let’s remain true to ourselves and our beliefs. As women we are inherently collaborative and inclusive in style, so let’s ensure we maintain these qualities when we get to the highest positions – If we do not people will see through us and our brand will inevitably suffer!

I look forward to seeing many of you at the Arabian Travel Market Women in Travel meetup, on 25 April 2016. For more information contact me or check the ATM website.

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Alessandra is founder of social enterprise Women in Travel CIC which she launched in January 2017 to provide communities in key regions (for example UK, Middle East, Africa and Latin America) with a sustainable livelihood by enabling women to become economically independent through entrepreneurship and a thriving career in the travel and tourism industry. Alessandra is also Chief Mentor & Consultant at Everyday Mentor, where she provides mentoring, coaching and consulting services to a range of clients in the commercial and public sector. Alessandra also collaborates with a number of Universities, including Hertfordshire, Normandy and Surrey. Alessandra is passionate about gender in tourism and has written and spoken extensively on the subject over the last 12 years, including at the United Nations World Tourism Day. She is well known as co-founder of Shine People and Places – a boutique outfit dedicate to supporting women in the workplace - and The Shine Awards for Women Achievements in Travel Tourism Hospitality and Events, which she ran between 2004 and 2010 before Sector Skills Council People 1st took them over. Prior to Shine Alessandra worked at KPMG, where she built the Travel & Tourism division, and the World Travel and Tourism Council. Alessandra has an executive MBA from the University of Ediburgh/Grande Ecole Pons combined; she is a qualified coach/mentor for performance in the workplace and she is a member of several industry bodies including AWTE and the UK Tourism Society.

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