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  • Writer's pictureDavid Atkin

'Add value, bring joy'

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the International Women in Travel & Tourism Awards and Forum, organised by Women in Travel and hosted at Expedia and Google's office in London. It was an inspiring and thought-provoking two days, kicking off with a live networking session of the Male Allyship Network (MAN) group and the inaugural awards ceremony, followed by a full-day forum focussing on topics such as the climate crisis, DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion), entrepreneurship, neurodiversity and allyship.

It was lovely to see established travel industry contacts and clients of both Sanderson Phillips and tranquilico in attendance and I felt privileged to have the opportunity to meet and engage with some truly amazing people.

I wanted to capture the essence and my observations of the IWTT Forum in a bite-size format, which will hopefully provide some value to you, the reader... that's one half of the main takeaway. How I can bring joy (the other half) will be a little harder to achieve, but I feel empowered to take more action, increase awareness and drive change within my sphere of influence.

Key takeaways:

  • Add value, bring joy

  • What can we do on purpose, outside of our comfort zones - be '10% braver'. It's hard, but if we think about it, we've all done it at some point

  • We are the custodians of knowledge. This is a massive advantage when faced with a crisis (like the climate emergency)

  • Use technology so you can stay in your zone of genius. I think this can apply mainly to entrepreneurs and micro-businesses, but also to anyone. It's also important that we use technology and not let technology use us

  • Doing everything in the same way breeds complacency. Diversity breeds innovation

  • Placing diversity, equity and inclusion on the same level as profitability requires commitment. Leaders must be the voice and change unconscious bias

  • Supporting neurodiversity in the workplace is so important and businesses should understand what reasonable adjustments need to be made for each individual

Alongside these notes were many other 'NB's' for me to take back to our day to day operations and processes. The IWTT Forum was the kind of day where your mind races and is full of inspiration, ideas and opportunities. Turning these into meaningful action will be challenging, but such is the enthusiasm of those leading the way, like Women in Travel's founder Alessandra Alonso, it feels as if support will be forthcoming for anyone wanting to make positive changes.

Since becoming a mentor on the Male Allyship Network, I have come to understand that allyship is a key component of adding value. Rather than 'rescuing' people and telling them what to do, we should find out how we can stand alongside those who may need support. I was honoured to be shortlisted for the Individual Male Ally of the year award, which was deservedly won by Stuart Greif from Forbes Travel Guide for the great work he is doing. This process has taught me so much and I would encourage all male leaders to sign up here.

I'm already looking forward to IWTTF 2024, to exploring what is possible for our businesses to achieve in the next 12 months and to learning more along the way.

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