Women in travel: Who’s making a difference?

Guest Contributor

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Senior figures in the UK’s travel industry recently gathered for the announcement of the winners of the inaugural everywoman in Travel Awards. 

The ceremony, which celebrated the contribution that women make to the multi-billion-pound industry, took place at East Wintergarden, Canary Wharf in London.

The winners were women excelling at all stages of their career journeys. They were selected by a judging panel including travel industry senior figures including Rachel O’Reilly, head of communications, Kuoni and Jo Rzymowska, vice president & managing director, UK and Ireland & Asia at Celebrity Cruises.

Over the past 18 years, everywoman has celebrated the achievements of women working in technology, retail, entrepreneurship and transport & logistics.

This year, it launched the everywoman in Travel Awards to recognise female talent in the industry, highlight the growing need for more women in senior positions, particularly as the sector faces challenges in light of Brexit, and encourage more women into the industry to ensure a strong pipeline of future talent.

According to research released by C&M Travel Recruitment this year, women working within the travel industry are still earning less than their male counterparts, despite there being more women working in the sector, and they represent just 15.8% of all board members.

Beyond the category winners, the overall Woman of the Year Award – was awarded to Mary McKenna, managing director at Tour America, from Dublin.

She was singled out by the judges for her outstanding business acumen and dedication to inspiring other female entrepreneurs.

After starting the business in 1995 in her sitting room, Mary built Tour America in to what is now recognised as one of the best-run companies in Ireland with a turnover of over 20million Euros.

As the only female entrepreneur in Ireland to run a tour operator, she has successfully grown her business over the last 22 years, employing 50 people, delivering 58% repeat business and opening offices in Dublin and Cork.

The 2017 everywoman in Travel Awards category winners are as follows:

One to Watch – Ellie Barton, Apprentice,  Hays Travel from Darlington.

Tomorrow’s Leader – Rebecca Hipkin, Travel Support Team Leader, Intrepid Group, London.

Entrepreneur – Abi Wright, co-founder and managing director, Spabreaks.com from Newbury, London.

Above & Beyond -Karen Morris, global operations director, Travel Counsellors from Manchester.

Team Leader – Angela Terry, contact centre manager, TUI from Swansea.

Leader – Helen Caron, distribution & cruise director, TUI from Luton.

Karen Gill MBE, co-founder of everywoman, said: “As we celebrate our 18-year anniversary, everywoman is immensely proud to have launched the inaugural everywoman in Travel Awards. We have been overwhelmed by the strength of the entries we received and congratulate the very deserving winners. We believe that these women represent a true reflection of the breadth of female talent across the travel industry and at all stages of the career journey. The applications we received for the programme’s first year have already proven the dedication and tenacity that women in this industry possess. We look forward to unveiling more success stories in the years to come.”

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