What Women in Travel told us in 2017, and what to expect in 2018!

What Women in Travel told us in 2017, and what to expect in 2018!

So here we are, the end of 2017 is in sight and 2018 is upon us. It has been an important year for Women in Travel as the social enterprise approaches its first birthday and we reflect upon its progress and activities and draw some conclusions about gender and the status of women in the travel and tourism sector.

The Women in Travel Meetups, which took place during WTM London this past November and last April at ATM Dubai, reminded us of a number of important things:

The gig economy and the importance of entrepreneurship 

Many of us from all cultures and backgrounds would like to set up or indeed grow their business but don’t quite know how. Interestingly, this is not just true for women but also for men, as for the first time since starting the event in 2014 the room was probably split fifty-fifty between men and women. Accessing finance is often the greatest hurdle for women but – as one of our speakers and mentors reminded us – without self-confidence and self -belief we can hardly hope to be successful.

Another important point is that entrepreneurship knows no cultural barriers. Whereas women may sometimes be prevented by unwritten traditional rules from working in public places – particularly I am afraid when it comes to hospitality settings – everyone with a laptop and a WiFi connection can set up a business from their kitchen table! Sometimes these remain micro or small businesses – with many getting freelance work as writers, bloggers and influencers – but in other cases, they grow to considerable size and success such as the case of Diamondair international, Underthedoormat and House of Coco.

From Iran to Dubai, London to Capetown Women are embracing entrepreneurship in droves and they won’t be stopped. The question is rather for the industry, the political establishments and society: how can we ensure that their contribution does not go unnoticed? How can we support them and encourage them so that they feel empowered to act?

Activities such as those mentioned below in this blog go some way to provide this support but the needs are increasingly global. That is why Women in Travel was truly pleased to sign a memorandum of understanding with UN-led initiative SheTrades. Our common aim is to foster entrepreneurship and access to market for women entrepreneurs, especially from emerging economies. In 2018, we will be undertaking some collaboration to this extent, so watch this space!

The role of mentors and mentoring is not one to be underestimated

As tables filled to the brim with mentees, I continued to marvel at the extraordinary powerful tool that is mentoring.

Gaining access to an individual with established experience is certainly the fastest way to learn and perhaps, to avoid repeating mistakes already made by somebody else. Furthermore, that experience and knowledge is shared for free and with the genuine intention and desire to help. Repeatedly, female mentees tell us that mentoring sessions are an incredible source of learning and inspiration.

So why not do more? Well, we have listened and we are! Mentoring will now feature in both Dubai’s Arabian Travel Market and the newly launched Cape Town’s WTM Africa, both taking place in April 2018. So watch out for sign up opportunities early in the New Year.

We gain strength in number, connections and face-to-face meetings

We live in days of uncertainty and instability. As women, we fear for ourselves and our families, close and far. Political unrest, economic stagnation, social disparity are all existing concerns. Therefore, it gives us strength and courage to come together and share our experiences, opportunities and learning. In this context, we also find strength in our diversity and in knowing that women from all backgrounds, culture and races experience similar hopes and challenges.

Women are finding travel and tourism an exciting and opportunity-rich industry. In 2018, they are hoping to work and build their future in this sector, even more than in 2017.
Learning, sharing and giving to each other generously through mentoring and networking platforms, as well as having an industry that embraces this talented will ensure an even brighter and more sustainable future to the sector.

See you all in 2018!


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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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