Women in travel making an impact
To mark International Women’s Day, Pamela Whitby is speaking to inspiring women in travel throughout the month of March
Mita Carriman, the founder of solo travel platform Adventurely, fully grasps the importance of empowering women in travel. Not only has she designed her product, a platform for solo travellers to connect simply and safely, with women front of mind, she has also had a leg up from another pioneering woman - Arlan Hamilton, MD and founder of Backstage Capital.
Originally self-funded, Adventurely is one of the beneficiaries of a pre-seed investment from Backstage Accelerator, a programme that Hamilton launched while homeless. To date, the fund has raised $7-trillion which has been invested in under represented founders in 130 companies around the world. From 1,900 applications, Carriman’s solo travel platform (more on this later in the week) was one of 25 to join the programme’s first cohort.
“The Backstage team are phenomenally awesome, and it’s been a dream to have Arlan’s support,” says Carriman, who is speaking at the Travel Summit 2020 in San Diego (June 1-2).
Mita Carriman, Founder, Adventurely
Support from other women is something that Carriman values in a world where “gender bias is still a frequent experience for many female entrepreneurs”. She is a founding member of Dreamers & Doers, a network for women entrepreneurs that provides a safe and private space to get advice on issues relating to gender bias in the tech space, as well as general support for each other. “This has made a fundamentally positive difference in my experience,” she says, adding that there are numerous other support groups for women in tech that can be found on platforms like Meetup and Facebook.
In the UK, Alessandra Alonso, the founder of Women in Travel (CIC), has been blazing a grassroots trail for the past 20 years, and one of the issues she is passionate about is getting more women engaged in travel tech. “We have worked with the University of Surrey and our preliminary research shows that while women clearly love technology and understand its importance, they still lack confidence. We also know that the more technologically advanced a company is, the less likely you are to find women in senior positions,” says Alonso. This is, however, changing, and she believes that in the future women, who are often tuned into their community and engaged in networks, are well-placed to deliver on what is considered crucial for success in today’s travel industry – a high-tech but also high-touch approach.
The good news is that there are a growing number of formal initiatives today to support women in travel tech. Among those: Women in E-Travel; Women in Hospitality and Travel Tech; and Women in Travel Tech.
Women in Travel is also working with a range of charities, including Crisis UK, Refugee Council and Bread Winners on a Women Returners programme. The idea is to encourage travel and tourism companies to think more creatively and inclusively about recruitment. “There is a whole pool of talented women out there who have the diversity of thinking, the background and the opportunity to engage your colleagues, your customers and your staff,” says Alonso. At the same time, job hunters are increasingly looking for companies with a social conscience.
Tamar Schultz, Director of Product at ground transportation platform Gett, argues that women in travel today must aim for high impact projects that contribute to the company bottom line. “When managers ask someone to volunteer for ‘softer’ tasks, for example arranging an offsite meeting or working on an internal process, often women are the first to fill this gap,” she says. While there is nothing wrong with leading these types of projects, she stresses: “Women need to ensure that their work translates to the bottom line for the business because this is what people remember most!”
Women need to ensure that their work translates to the bottom line for the business because this is what people remember most
Historically, women have been raised to be passive, to wait to be asked as this was deemed more ‘ladylike’, says Schultz, who is speaking at the Travel Summit 2020, and believes it is time to take the lead more. “Don’t be embarrassed to ask for a raise, a promotion or to lead a coveted project. The worse thing that can happen they will say ‘no’,” she says.
Her final word of advice is to accept your mistakes and move on. “The most successful women I know are very understanding when their peers make mistakes, but they are very hard on themselves, to the point of it being undermining,” she says, adding: “When something goes wrong, try to imagine that it happened to a peer of yours, and ask how would you react?”
Tamar Schultz, Director of Product, Gett and Mita Carriman, Founder, Adventurely will be speaking at the upcoming Travel Summit 2020, San Diego, June 1-2