How networking with likeminded women can support female empowerment in travel

How networking with likeminded women can support female empowerment in travel

The Association of Women Travel Executives (AWTE) is delighted to be supporting the Women in Travel event at World Travel Market for the second year running. With a fantastic line of up of speakers, some of which we are delighted to say are our members, we’re looking forward to some great debates from some leading women in the travel industry.

It goes hand in hand with what we’re all about at the AWTE. We’re a member organisation that offers women the opportunity for some fantastic networking events, professional and personal development, business building and research into the status of women in business and on the board, looking for continuous improvement. We’re here to support, energise and empower the careers of women in travel. I’m delighted to say that we’re an association that is going from strength to strength, just last year celebrating a huge milestone, our sixtieth anniversary. A few years ago, we decided to introduce a new tier of membership, that opens membership to our male colleagues through company membership, which we are delighted to say has been a huge success.

Our popular ‘An Audience with…’ programmes run throughout the year, our most recent being with musician, author and broadcaster and mum Myleene Klass who had our audience enthralled with tales of how she juggles work and being a single parent, being a women in a male dominated environment as well as sharing the highlights and lowlights of her career. She spoken of many things we all experience, but often too afraid to openly discuss!

One of the greatest strengths of WTM is its power of networking. We all know how huge an event it is, and how far we can walk in one day for meetings and catching up with industry colleagues. I know I’ve learnt over the years that WTM is one of the few times flats win the day in the shoe stakes!! But you can’t underestimate the power of networking and this is where AWTE has helped me in my career without doubt! With regular networking events throughout the year, which we strongly believe should be free for our members and often held in the latest ‘must go to’ venues, it offers a brilliant chance to network over a glass of wine with other members from differing sectors of the industry, often with new faces that you don’t see at other events.

I am often asked why I believe in the empowerment of women in the workplace and why I became a board member of the Association. My view is that there’s a lot of discussion about the number of women on boards and what we can do to increase it; however I do think that at times the lack of female board members stems from women themselves. I’m convinced we have a built in inferiority complex, and I think we can create our own barriers ourselves. That’s where I believe AWTE comes in and also seminars such as the Women in Travel at WTM. We should applaud opportunities to encourage mentorship, collaboration and partnerships. As women we are brilliant at listening, sharing and supporting. We’re great at building relationships, keeping the peace and being aware of other peoples needs. So come along to these fantastic seminars at WTM, with some outstanding women who have achieved great success in their careers. I’m sure there will be stories that give us all something to take away and consider and possibly learn from in our own situations. Then, take it a step further; join the AWTE, a powerful force in travel dedicated to the empowerment of women in our industry. If you are already a member tell others about us, join us at our many events throughout the year, and get involved in supporting each other.

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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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