Women are taking a growing role at the key leadership within business and the Travel, Meetings and Event Business is no different. During IMEX 2016, MICExchange interviewed WINiT (WomenInTravel.org) member Kaaren Hamilton following her speaking engagement that discussed “Team and organizational sustainability and how people approach challenges and opportunities.” Hamilton discussed how WINit supports women in the travel industry and her own aspirations and career development.
Kaaren Hamilton (Vice president, Global Group Sales, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group) and WINit member, spoke about how her career had evolved and how the Hotels industry has reacted to changing market conditions and to the place women play in the corporate landscape. She is a WINit member and speaks at key events as an extension of her commitment to professional education and support of Women in Travel.
The WINiT Credo states, “WINiT is a network of women and men serving as a catalyst to drive change, provide support and educate the public about the benefits of career development, visibility & mobility of women in the travel, meeting, event and exhibition industries.”
MICExchange asked Kaaren Hamilton what she sees as an attractor for professionals looking to enhance their career. “WINiT has a Young Leaders initiative that is very satisfying to be involved in. It has been a joy for me to share my experience back to the community.”
When asked why women professionals were considering membership, “People are looking at WINIT because they are looking for personal, professional career progression, it’s not so much about going to an event hoping to come home with business.”
“I think there is a lot of business conducted at WINIT events but – it is probably a by product of why people are there.”
WINit Supporting Career Development
When asked what WINIT does for its members she responded, “WINit is a charitable, educational foundation and has a global reach. It is providing an education to women to understand the many paths that can be pursued in the travel industry and in meetings and events. Some of the initiatives are mentoring programs, educational events and the annual educational event – it’s a mix of people from the travel industry – men and women.”
“For someone like myself in the industry, I have been engaged in other associations over the years such as MPI and PCMA, but WINiT is different. There is no membership cost, so I think you bring something different to it – there are many ways to engage such as speaking sessions that build lasting relationships.”
Business Events and Hotels
When Kaaren was asked how she has witnessed the changes in the hotel industry, she notes “The way the hotel business is changing can be seen in the way it does business – it has moved to a more procurement process and this can make it difficult to develop the engagement with customers that is so often needed.”
“From my own business perspective, where my specialty is in the Meetings and Events business sector where I oversee the MICE business for Carlson Rezidor a large global hotel group – that business moves on its relationships and face to face interactions. In my role is to be able to develop that side of interaction and a side benefit of WINIT has been a great way to meet with different people.”
“WINIT events have rich networking built into the event that is open to both men and women.”
Women in Hotel Industry Career Progress
MICExchange asked, how the roles of women had changed in the Travel and Hotel industry, and how her career has developed, Kaaren respond, “Carlson Rezidor has been very pro-woman, and has always had a very large number of women in senior leadership ..So I can’t say that from a day-to-day experience I have experienced anything different.”
Kaaren noted, “ From the hotel business things have certainly changed a lot in the 25 years when I first entered the business. The senior management and leadership roles were heavily dominated by men – today we see many female General Managers, in leadership positions at the corporate level across the hotel brands. There are a lot more interesting opportunities these days.”
When asked about what demonstrates change in the hotel industry she was quick to respond,
Kaaren was quick to point out that one other key indicator of how the hotel industry was responding to the marketplace, “ It is no longer acceptable, if you are attending a meeting or an event, to fly into a city, go to a generic hotel, never see the city then leave not remembering what the hotel even looked like. Especially as we talk about the millennials and how they travel – they want experience and that is definitely influencing where business is placed.
More about WINit
WINiT was approved as a nonprofit corporation 501(c)(3) organization with the United States Internal Revenue Service, recognized as a charitable and education organization. Donors (corporate and individuals) may make tax-deductible contributions (for United States based businesses) to fund WINiT’s charitable and educational efforts by contributing to the WINiT-WomenInTravel, Inc.
In recognition of its role in the promotion and support of women, WINiT’s Founder, Michelle (Mick) Lee was invited to attend the prestigious and influential event of the 59th session of the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women where such prominent attendees include Secretary Hillary Clinton, who launched the No Ceilings Full Participation Report. The report by the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in collaboration with The Economist Intelligence Unit, UCLA WORLD identifies the significant gains women and girls have made.