Q&A: Sarah Clayton-Turner, Chair, AWTE

Have you settled into your new role as Chair at AWTE; what does it involve? 

I’ve been in the new role at AWTE for three months, so I think it’s fair to say I’m feeling more settled in now. Being Chair is a very active and hands-on role and generally overseas progress of the association.

It covers all facets of the board including looking at new partnerships, running with the association’s strategy, website and comms, finances, and of course membership.  The board meets on a monthly basis, and ensures that the association continues to go from strength to strength.


What is your background in travel and how did you join AWTE?

I have worked in travel for 20 years now (gosh that makes me feel old) and started off for a brilliant company called Unijet, originally in the product department and then moved into marketing. From there, I joined Libra Holidays as marketing manager, and I’ve also worked at Octopus Travel and C&M Travel Recruitment in my time.

In 2010, I set up Travel Trade Marketing, taking the plunge to work for myself and I can honestly say I’ve never looked back.  Whilst at Unijet, one of my old colleagues (who remains a good friend of mine) first took me to an AWTE Christmas lunch when it was held at the Grosvenor House hotel.  That whetted my appetite for the association and I have been a member on and off since then. Over four years ago, I decided to become a more active member and joined the board, serving under both Barbro McAusland and Debbee Dale.


What are your plans for the association?

Women’s issues are generating more and more interest, and not just in the travel sector.  We’re extremely lucky to have over 60 years of history, but it’s vital that we stay current and relevant. The association has changed into a much more dynamic force over the years and I’m keen to take it even further as a voice for women’s issues in the travel industry with the common goal to advance the careers of women, by offering  advice and support to empower women to progress in our brilliant industry.

We support the government initiative publishing league tables of companies where there is a gender pay gap and we are working with the industry to make them aware and to prepare for the new law, which will be introduced in April 2018.

I’m keen to increase the number of younger members, and am currently liaising with a number of organisations to attract and retain these members to ultimately ensure the future of the association.

We’ve just recently launched an association in Ireland, which has surpassed all of our membership targets and they have had some brilliant events for members already.

We are also launching a chapter in Dubai in the next few months and looking at the possibility of Asia – it seems the demand for a global association is strong.

We will be publishing our annual Women Empowerment Index in association with UEL, analysing women and their business role in the travel industry. It covers all sectors of the industry, the gender pay gap, recruitment trends and women led businesses.

We’ve recently just surveyed our membership, to ask them what they want from their membership so we will be acting on that accordingly. In terms of our events, I am planning to make AWTE less London-centric and open up events in the North and Scotland.

We’ve just launched a new website, which is more member focused, and mobile optimised.  So we’ve got a busy year planned!


What’s in store for AWTE for the rest of this year?

AWTE believes in the power of networks. We organise regular events to allow new and prospective members to have face-to-face conversations to share insight, ideas and contacts.

We’ve got some great events lined up for this year –  our usual Summer Networking taking place on 7 August and our Chairs Awards are on the 12 September, where we celebrate the achievements of some brilliant women in travel with our three awards; honorary award, business impact award and company award. We’ve had some brilliant nominations in already, choosing winners is going to be a very hard task!

We will also be inducting another five inspirational ladies on our honorary list (which originally started on our 60th anniversary). We are still taking nominations for all of the awards so please email [email protected]

On the back of our members lounge success at WTM last year, we have decided to take a lounge for two days of the show this year. Members from around the world are welcome to come and use our lounge for meetings, or time out from the show on Monday 6 and Tuesday 7 November.  More details will be available nearer the time on room location.

And then of course; our legendary Christmas lunch taking place on the 4 December.  We’ve moved to a new venue (for us) this year, the De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms in Covent Garden. There will be a charity auction and booking is open on the website now.

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