Wanted: Male Allies for Women in Travel Leadership

Every industry emphasizes the importance of gender equality in the workplace. But no industry is quite like the travel industry with regards to the customer: women make close to 85 percent of all travel decisions.  However, when it comes to travel and tourism companies, for every five men at the table, there’s only one woman.…

Every industry emphasizes the importance of gender equality in the workplace. But no industry is quite like the travel industry with regards to the customer: women make close to 85 percent of all travel decisions

However, when it comes to travel and tourism companies, for every five men at the table, there’s only one woman. Additionally, Covid-19 has set back women in the workplace by decades, due to their need to balance work and family life. This can have an incredibly harmful ripple effect, seeing as women already have a tendency to be less confident and boastful of their skills. 

“A recent study by NAPCO found that almost 40% of women feel that their skills were insufficient,” shares Lori Timony, Vice President of Partnerships at Virgin Experience Gifts. “We need to be pulling each other up, and I feel like that’s going to drive the opportunity and ability for other women to recognize their worth.” 

Men are an essential part of the solution as well. “Men can be visible allies!” says Alessandra Alonso, founder of Women in Travel CIC. “Senior leaders are often men and they have the power to act as role models and affect change. But they feel disempowered by the lack of appropriate channels and the fear of making mistakes.”

How can we all — men and women alike — lift women up and ensure they get equal opportunity for managerial and decision-making roles in travel? Here are some things to think about. 

Why Women?

Succeeding in the business world of travel requires empathy. Decision makers must be able to put themselves in the shoes of the traveler and understand what’s going on in their life that’s pushing them to book. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for us to empathize with people who have a very different life than we do. 

This is where women have immense value. Not only do they understand what other women go through on a day-to-day basis and during travels, but studies have found that women are inherently more empathetic. Who better to design, market, and run these tours than women who can speak their language? 

And with more demand for women-centric tours and experiences, there is a great opportunity here to get more women involved at the top. Just last month, El Camino Travel raised $1.1M following a pivot to focus on women travelers. This trend is expected to continue as the number of solo female travelers continues to rise. 


23-25 NOVEMBER 2024

Insider Pro Access Members Save 20%

THE event of the year for solutions-focused In-Destination Experience
creators and sellers

Save up to £440 with the Super Early Bird ticket

Learn More

How Men Can Be Allies

There’s often a fear of ‘getting it wrong’ when it comes to diversity initiatives. But just like anything else, making an attempt is far better than staying silent and ignorant. If you’re a male and your company has no female leadership, what’s one thing you can do every week to advocate for more balance?

Intentionally educating yourself and taking action is the most important thing, but it’s easier said than done. The gender gap isn’t new, at this point, most people are aware that men tend to land leadership roles more often than women. But your organization will benefit from asking the right questions. 

For example, if you can identify a woman who has potential but is struggling with the overdemanding responsibilities at home, how can you reshape a leadership role for them? How can you create a safe space for women to voice their perspectives in meetings? Can you identify ways a woman on your team can add value without needing to commit more time? 

Joining the Male Allyship Network by Women In Travel CIC is another important step men in travel can take. “We engage men as allies and match them with women who can learn from them and in turn act as reverse mentors,” explains Alonso. “It is a powerful combination as learning takes place and self-awareness grows extensively on both sides.”

Women in Travel CIC Founder, Alessandra Alonso at Arival 360 | Berlin, March 2023

How Women Can Move Up the Ladder

You’ve probably heard all the advice before, like ‘ask for what you want’, and perhaps you’ve even taken bold action in the past. It can often feel like an uphill battle just to get the same opportunities as men, and that’s not your fault. But the truth of the matter is, women often have to work a little harder to be seen and heard. 

If moving up the ladder is what you desire, does your organization have some sort of diversity initiative? Do they say they value diversity, but they’re not showing it? If not, then consider leading the charge. If they do have an initiative but you see opportunities to improve upon it and make it more actionable, speak up. Working for a company that says one thing and does another will often build resentment across the entire team. 

With women being the principal bookers and buyers, your perspective is incredibly valuable. Use it to your advantage by questioning the old way of doing things. Consider pioneering your own initiative that aligns with your passions and gifts. 

Operator Takeaway

When you’re making decisions that impact your experience and the marketing/selling of your experience, a woman’s perspective matters immensely. Whether you’re a one-man show or part of the C-suite, take a moment to look at the balance of gender representation within your organization. “It all starts with awareness. Once you have the awareness, that leads to change,” shares Timony. 

Become an Insider Pro Access member today and get access to the full library of Arival research, plus many other benefits such as free consulting sessions, special discounts and 20% off in-person events, starting from $179 per year.


Sign up to receive insights tailored for the in-destination industry as well as updates on Arival.

Sign Up

Header photo: Kampus Production / Pexels



already a member?

Lost your password?


Become an Arival Insider

Included in Free Membership

Included in Arival Pro Membership

The Arival on-demand video library archive
Access to the entire library of over 150 video sessions and webinars

Short, digestible research & trends reports delivering insights into our industry, such as The Tour Operator Outlook for 2021.

Arival.travel articles
Topical articles about marketing, tech, operator business and operator stories in all areas of tours, activities & attractions & experiences

Job board access
Find a job from our regular listings, post a resume to the talent network and learn strategies from the job resources articles

New webinars
Helpful, instructional sessions covering subjects such as Mastering Facebook Ads, Grow Your Business and How To Work With OTAs — topics to help advance your business.

Discounts on all Arival in-person events
20% Discount on all Arival in-person events (save up to $300)* based on business type

Arival ProShield – Insurance program
Access to tailored insurance solutions by Granite Insurance is available exclusively for Arival Insider Pro Access Members. Insider Pro Access Members also have access to a suite of resources from Granite Insurance including templates, forms and other informative documents.

Insiders Pro Access member exclusive webinars
Paid membership-only webinars to deepen your understanding of important industry topics.

Job postings & talent directory
Post jobs & connect with candidates most applicable to your business.

Private roundtables to connect, learn and engage
Small, focused and intimate discussions exclusive to Arival Insider Pro Access members.

Full access to Arival’s library of in-depth reports
Up to date, deep analysis of tourism topics ranging from Self-guided Tours to Sales & Distribution Trends and Outlooks, based on the data that defines the industry.

The latest on-demand videos
Over 350+ on-demand videos featuring hot topics in tours, activities & attractions

Insider discounts in digital marketing, tech, e-learning, and more
Save money on additional tools, services and learnings you need to run your business. Exclusive to paid members.

Membership Overview

At Arival, we believe travel can make the world a better place. Our mission is to establish and inspire a diverse community of individuals and companies in the In-destination Industry by providing opportunities to gain insight, share knowledge and build connections. To make it possible for true collaboration, creativity, innovation, and idea exchange to thrive, we are committed to facilitating a welcoming and respectful community for all. This Conference Code of Conduct shares our community expectations and applies to all attendees, employees, exhibitors, speakers, sponsors, volunteers, and other participants at Arival- produced and sponsored events. We empower all participants in our community to actively engage in creating a friendly, inclusive and safe environment for all.

Arival’s core values include the following, and create an expectation for conduct at our events and in online community spaces:

We demonstrate a deep respect for human beings inside and outside our company and for the communities in which they live.
We value integrity and strive to consistently interact with others in ways that are authentic, ethical, and fair.
We are dedicated to transparency, committing to clear, open and honest communication.
We actively pursue and advocate for inclusion, diversity and representation of varying cultural backgrounds, perspectives and ideas

Arival welcomes people from all cultural backgrounds, and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, gender (including pregnancy, perceived pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or related medical conditions), gender identity, religion (including religious dress and grooming), marital status, domestic partner status, genetic information, age, national origin or ancestry, military or veteran status, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, or any other basis protected by federal, state, or local laws.

Accordingly, participants must refrain from displaying any demeaning, harassing, aggressive, or intimidating behavior or materials that would interfere with others’ experience and participation in our community.

If you witness or are subjected to inappropriate or disruptive behavior or have any other concerns, notify an Arival staff member as soon as possible.

Inappropriate or disruptive behavior will not be tolerated. Arival reserves the right to refuse entry to or remove any party from any event or community space at any time when participation or behavior create a disruption or hinder the event or enjoyment of the event by other participants. All determinations are at the sole discretion of Arival, and the decision of the Arival team will be final. Severe breaches of this Conference Code of Conduct may result in disqualification from participating in future events. Individuals expelled due to violating this Conference Code of Conduct will not be eligible for a refund or other consolation.

If you have questions regarding this Conference Code of Conduct or its implementation, please contact us at [email protected].