Boardrooms and C-suites are feminizing, but there’s more to be done
Los Angeles, California – The Travel Industry Executive Women’s Network (TIEWN), a global networking association with over 10,000 members, held their fifth annual educational and motivational conference at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills, California on March 8, 2018. Timed to International Women’s Day, the event celebrated female leaders across several industries, sharing successes and challenges to motivate and encourage progressive change within the hospitality and tourism sectors. Organized by TIEWN and BLLA Founder and CEO Frances Kiradjian, and her daughter, BLLA COO Ariela Kiradjian, the confab brought together an impressive roster of speakers who addressed almost 200 attendees from all segments of the travel and hospitality industries.
Leaders in the hotel & lodging sector, airlines, cruise lines, corporate and leisure travel management, technology and tour operation, covered a variety of topics that included collaboration as a successful management tool (a feminine strength) and turning complaints into positive action. Leadership effectiveness, they said, is often predicated on three actions: creating and embracing a vision for the future, building deep alignment around the vision, and enabling the right conditions for successful execution. Participants were encouraged to seek and provide mentorship to bring women executives as a class to a stronger position.
Attendees also commented on the event anonymously. “There were lots of forward-thinking ideas in the panel discussions, and I felt that I made meaningful connections with others in the industry. The shared experience of being both a leader and a woman made it easy to find common threads.”
In a world where only 18 nations have female heads of state, only 5% of travel and tourism companies have women at the CEO level; although women are making inroads. As many of the day’s speakers emphasized, the power of women, alongside a feminine perspective enhances leadership effectiveness and increases the bottom line. Companies with a high percentage of women in senior positions, outperform other companies. In the tourism realm, this makes perfect sense. It is estimated that 85% of all tourism purchases are made by women. Who better to understand the market than other women?
Women on Boards was one subject hailed by Frances Kiradjian during her opening speech which was focused on the themes of believing, together – we are unstoppable, female power is rising and empowerment. “I believe there could never be a better time for women to take action immediately to be considered by the world’s Boards, particularly those that are looking at the make-up of their Board members and rising up to meet the diversity issues by including more women who closely match their needs (as well as ensuring the Board reflects the company’s customer base). But it’s not going to just magically appear in your inbox; you need to reach out and showcase your capabilities and experience.” She also announced a collaboration with FIU (Florida International University) who has already produced a study entitled “Still Pounding on the Glass Ceiling – a study of female leaders in hospitality, travel and tourism management.”
The hospitality, travel and tourism industries benefit immensely from the efforts of women who contribute to the workforce through dedication, passion and hard work. In our decades of navigating these spheres, BLLA has found the efforts, changes, and accomplishments in our sector inspired by women, so often go overlooked. The association continues to push the conversation forward, and hone in on what these changes in climate and landscape mean for our industry.
BLLA’s Frances Kiradjian moderated the “Luxury Redefined” panel with leaders from Ponant Cruises, Rosewood Hotels and Preferred Hotel Group, that explored the definition of luxury from a female perspective as well as how we are nurturing the next generation of luxury travelers. The panel ended with Frances announcing the winner of the TIEWN group’s 1st Female Empowerment Award to Edie Rodriguez, America’s Brand Chairman & Corporate Special Advisor for Ponant Cruises.
Futurist Anne Boysen helped participants understand what the tourism market will look like beyond the Millennials. The airline panel, composed of Atmosphere Research, JetBlue Technology Ventures and Delta Airlines, reiterated that a diverse leadership chain that contains women is more effective and stronger by better representing the airlines’ diverse clientele. BLLA’s Ariela Kiradjian moderated the final panel, that highlighted companies with a social conscience, featuring Kind Traveler, Impact Travel Alliance and Wanderlust.
Headline sponsors of the event included Avendra, Elavon, Frontline PG, Gettys Group, Gillis Consulting & Training, Greenberg Traurig, iVvy, LG, Rainmaker, Red Lion Hotels, Sideways, Suitelife Insurance and Two Roads Hotels.