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Senior figures in the UK’s travel industry gathered today for the announcement of the winners of the inaugural everywoman in Travel Awards. The ceremony, which celebrated the enormous contribution that women make to the multi-billion-pound industry, took place at East Wintergarden, located between the iconic towers of Canary Wharf in London.
Beyond the category winners, the overall Woman of the Year Award - which recognises an extraordinary woman whose passion, success and accessibility makes her an exceptional role model and a great industry ambassador - 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 persevered in the face of adversity and 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. Outside her day job, she is a true advocate for encouraging female entrepreneurs to create and develop their own businesses through various mentorship programmes.
The 2017 everywoman in Travel Awards category winners are as follows:
One to Watch, sponsored by TripAdvisor, awarded to a young game-changer in education or an apprenticeship who demonstrates a passion for the travel industry:
WINNER: Ellie Barton, Apprentice, Hays Travel from Darlington; a valued role model to other young women working within her company. The glowing reviews she receives from returning customers is testament to her superb customer relations on social media, where she has created £8000 profit from Facebook alone, posting deals and responding to customer queries.
Tomorrow’s Leader, sponsored by TTG Media, awarded to a woman under 30 making a significant contribution to the sector:
WINNER: Rebecca Hipkin, Travel Support Team Leader, Intrepid Group from London, who increased the sales and support staff productivity by 35% after forming a completely new travel support team. She leads a team of five female travel support specialists, continuously encouraging them to reach their full potential through some of the simplest, yet most effective initiatives such as bespoke weekly training sessions.
Entrepreneur, sponsored by Silversea Cruises, awarded to an owner / operator of a travel business that has been operating for three years or more, whose vision will inspire other women to start their own enterprise:
WINNER: Abi Wright, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Spabreaks.com from Newbury, London. Abi is passionate about a “spa for all” policy and ensures that anyone with disabilities or who is recovering from cancer is never turned away from a well-deserved spa treatment. She strongly believes in nurturing female talent and, as a result, Abi's senior management team is made up of 98% women. Three mothers have gone on to start their own successful businesses after maternity leave, inspried by mentoring from Abi.
Above & Beyond, sponsored by The Travel Network Group, awarded to a woman at any stage of her career that has truly gone above and beyond her role to help drive the organisation's success:
WINNER: Karen Morris, Global Operations Director, Travel Counsellors from Manchester, who secured her first role in the travel industry at aged 16. She is now driving how the business supports health and wellbeing, reflecting her passion for supporting the people around her. She oversees 1,700 individual Travel Counsellors across seven countries and personally managed the fallout from the 2004 Tsunami and the Iceland ash cloud incident in 2010
Team Leader, sponsored by Avis Budget, awarded to a woman whose team leadership has greatly contributed to the organisation’s success:
WINNER: Angela Terry, Contact Centre Manager, TUI from Swansea, who convinced her team managers to overturn their decision to shut down the Swansea contact centre. Operations under Angela’s business plan and strategic care have since gone from strength to strength, including a reduced speed of answer rate from 299 to 23 seconds and a 14% increase in overall customer satisfaction. Female staff within the business testify to Angela’s impact on their career and believe they wouldn’t be where they are today without her support and mentorship.
Leader, sponsored by Kuoni, awarded to a woman making a significant contribution to the strategic direction of the business:
WINNER: Helen Caron, Distribution & Cruise Director, TUI from Luton. Being one of only two women on the TUI Board, Helen takes the time to coach and mentor other women, resulting in an impressive employee engagement score of 80%. She reformed TUI Ireland, which has now achieved significant financial improvement over the two years that Helen was leading the business, turning it into its current profitable position.
Karen Gill MBE, co-founder of everywoman, comments: “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.”
Published: Friday, November 17, 2017