What can you expect from the Women in Travel meetup at WTM London 2016?

What can you expect from the Women in Travel meetup at WTM London 2016?

5 months to go and counting! As I look at the calendar I am thrilled about this third, forthcoming Women in Travel meetup 2016 but also know there is a lot to do and the time will fly!

I am excited because the programme on offer this year is shaping up well and we have some excellent topics and speakers. So what exactly can you expect from the event? Read on!

Women in Travel meetup Programme – 8 November 2016 – 1330 to 1800 pm

Panel Debate 1 – A brave new world of leadership: female and in her fifties?

In 2015 PwC – the ‘Big4’ advisory firm – published a research about leadership, more specifically about the chronic shortage of ‘strategist leadership’ talent readily available to organisations.

Less than 10% of leaders today have the right skills to lead successful transformational change, according to the report. The report goes on to define a ‘strategist leader’ as someone who is likely to have wider experience of settings, people, and also of failure, which engenders humility of perspective and resilience, so that they know what to do when things don’t work. 

6000 European professionals were surveyed for this research and the largest proportions of strategist leaders were found to be female and over the age of 55, an area of talent often “overlooked,” according to the firm (more like ‘ignored’, if you ask me). The research proves that these females are more likely to be able to see situations from multiple perspectives, use a positive language and exercise power in a courageous yet authentic way.

Is this also the situation in travel and tourism? Do women in travel feel that age can become a barrier to advancement, progress and further opportunities? What can younger women expect as they develop their career in travel? Or is the sector immune from such biases? What can be done to ensure that the talent and knowledge built over many years stays with the organisation and is properly used?

These and other questions will be explored by a panel of female and male travel professionals from the industry, soon to be revealed!

Panel Debate 2 – Start Up Stars – How to lunch your start up business and find success

The female start-up world is on fire!

According to recent statistics, more than 126 million women entrepreneurs were starting or running new businesses in 67 economies in 2012. Around 30% of all US businesses are majority female owned and female owned businesses are growing twice as fast as all other businesses.  In the UK around 17% of all businesses are owned by females.

Female entrepreneurship is also high on most governments’ agenda and in the UK specifically, the business case is obvious: Bank giant RBS estimated that female entrepreneurship could boost the economy by an extra £60bn!

Yet, research from the London Business School also shows that female entrepreneurs continue to fear failure and that is why a third of global female population refrain from doing so! Finance and capital are a big factor in all of this, with women starting businesses that are under-capitalised and around 1/3 of the level of capital enjoyed by their male equivalent.

So what can we do about, particularly in travel and tourism? Is the sector any different around the world? What are the success stories? And what does it take to launch a business?

If you are interested in entrepreneurship, thinking about launching a business or have a business already but want to understand how to go about financing, join us and our stellar panel of female start up panelists from the UK and abroad as well as finance experts to provide you with inspiration, tips and practical answers to your entrepreneurship questions.

NEW for 2016! Group Mentoring Sessions

This year we have gathered some amazing women and men industry professionals to act as your mentors!

We are offering two sets of 30 minutes group mentoring sessions on pre-agreed topics of relevance to today’s women in travel that you will be able to book in advance to access 2 to 3 mentors per table as well as fellow mentees.

Topics will include:

  • Entrepreneurship
  • Female leadership
  • Work and Career
  • Personal and Professional Development

Watch this space and make sure you do not miss the opportunity to talk to some amazing professionals from all backgrounds who will make available their expertise and experience to give you a deeper insight into your topic(s) of choice!


As always, the event will conclude with some great networking. Refreshments will be available and we will continue developing the conversations, finding the inspiration and building this amazing international community of women over a drink.

I look forward to seeing many of you on the day and do feel free to pass on the information and the invitation to attend to the women you know!

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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.


  1. Avatar Tawanna B. Smith says:

    I’m looking forward to the conversations around women entrepreneurs in the travel industry. I believe the best way for us to succeed is through collaboration and support of our fellow female entrepreneurs. We have wonderful organizations here in the United States but I have yet to see an International one that has a system in place for collaboration across national lines.

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