Inspirational. Authentic. Determined. These are Travel Women!

Inspirational. Authentic. Determined. These are Travel Women!

Wow. I am just back from moderating an amazing session on ‘Secrets of successful female tra-preneurs’ as part of the new Women in Travel Programme at WTM and I am still inspired and humbled by the warmth, passion and sheer determination of my four panel speakers, Jessica Bain (Latin Routes) Julia Feuell( Online Travel Training) Mandy Nickerson (Hexagon Travel) and Sarah Johnson (Lotus Communication). Not to mention the audience : a 100 or so mostly female entrepreneurs or aspiring business women from as far as Australia, South Africa and Butan.

Blog_Alessandra_14Nov_BodyTogether we discussed, shared tips, offered advice, asked for suggestions about what it takes to be a successful woman business owner in the travel and tourism industry. And you know what? Not a winge in sight about men, nor a mention of glass ceiling or cliffs…not because we are so naive to think that they do not exist but because everyone there wanted to focus on the the positive outcomes of entrepreneurship, wanted to celebrate success and tap into the exceptional resources available in the room….and how powerful that room was albeit for a short hour!

So what were the key tips shared by the four speakers over that time? Here is a selection:

– Be confident, believe in yourself!

– Find what you are really passionate about and do it!

– Surround your self with clever, smart people who can support you and advise you when the going gets tough. They do need to be expensive…friends, former colleagues and non executives all come relatively cheap but will be interested and take what you do at heart.

-Hire good people and keep on engaging your staff so they too want to succeed and achieve. Let them take part in your decision making process, contribute ideas, share suggestions even if ultimately you do not follow those.

-Learn to speak finance. You will at some point need to raise funds and so seek support and understand the basic principles to enable you to talk to possible investors, bank managers or even family and friends acting as ‘business angels’.

-consider innovative ways to raise finance such as crowd-funding.

-Network, network, network! You need it in order to find the investors above!

– Cash is king! Watch what you are spending and make sure you are being sensible.

-Do not forget the impact you have on the people around you. You may be eating, sleeping and breathing your business, but your partner, children and extended family need to understand what you are trying to achieve or they will not support you.

-Examine where you need help and find a mentor (or maybe two or three) to support you. Alumni networks, professional bodies and other business associations were all mentioned as possible ‘mentoring circles’.


A pretty full on list, if you ask me. But then again it takes extraordinary travel women to launch extraordinary travel businesses. Who is next?

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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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