Startup Stories: Women Leading Travel & Hospitality
New associations launch to fill a void in their sector. Here, Women Leading Travel & Hospitality tells us what got them started, how they’re succeeding, and what they plan to do next.
Starting point. Women Leading Travel & Hospitality (WLTH) is a sister organization to Women in Retail Leadership Circle. WIRLC, which recognized that executive women in fields besides retail also needed support, found that there were no hospitality and travel groups geared specifically toward female leaders. “From hotel groups to airline groups to cruise line groups, there was nothing for everyone together,” said Hannah DeMaio, who works with both organizations. “And everyone was having the same problems and woes, so we wanted to bring this group and unify them and have them all help each other.”
Early work. Since launching, WLTH has focused on providing support for common issues members are having. “Obviously, airlines versus the shared economies of the Lyfts of the world are not having the same issues from an industry strategy standpoint,” DeMaio said. “But when we are talking about women in leadership, the issues are shared—specifically for executive women in leadership. We [at WLTH] talk about how to go from VP to EVP, about how to be the only woman in the room, how to network, how to lead through crisis and with COVID now.” WLTH has also set up a job board for those who were furloughed and created member communities where people can network and discuss issues.
Next steps. Over the next year, WLTH’s primary focuses are growth and continued member assistance. “Our priorities are going to be to grow the community so there are more people for these executive women to learn and grow from,” DeMaio said. “Our other priority is to continue to help. This industry is starting to see everything tick back up, but it’s going at a slow pace, and everyone is still recovering. We still want to be this helpful hand in every way we can.”
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