To mark International Women’s Day 2019, Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold have released a new infographic showcasing the State of Women in Travel.
The graphic shows that 57% of travellers with the companies are women, and they are at the core of everything the company does. Aiming to break tradition and pave the way for female empowerment, 70% of Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold’s overall workforce are female, and nearly two-thirds hold leadership positions.
“Our global executive team consists of outstanding professionals, more than half of which are women. We will always hire for talent and the right cultural fit to ensure we have the best possible team and I love seeing how over the last few years, more women are putting themselves forward for senior leadership positions and excelling in their roles,” says Insight Vacations/Luxury Gold CEO Ulla Hefel Bohler.
Women in leadership positions have jumped from 17% only five years ago to now account for 64%, an increase of nearly 75%.
Insight Vacations’ Travel Director for Spain and Portugal, Sara Tuppen Veloso explains how she ended up in her position today.
If you were to speak with other Travel Directors, it would quickly become obvious that there is no direct path to this career. I grew up enchanted by their travel stories. In my teens, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Germany. Upon completion of my university degree, I attempted to follow a ‘normal’ path by securing a job translating and editing for a large international accounting firm. Within one year there, however, it became apparent that working in an office was not for me. During the job search that followed this revelation, a European coach holiday company, Contiki Holidays, was brought to my attention. I secured a job with Contiki Europe, which I thought would be a short stint to fill the gap between so-called serious career decisions but, nearly ten years later, I am still in this industry (working for Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold now). That spontaneous step into a new career in a new country is one of the best choices I have made. I love the work that I do.
In brief, describe a day in your life on the job.
Usually, from 7am to 9pm every day, my day is packed with activity, communication, preparation and paperwork. I meet the group at breakfast and am available to our guests all day, whether it is to answer questions, provide commentary on history or culture, offer assistance or simply chat. At the same time, I am continually busy with the organisational side of the trip, communicating with hotels, restaurants, drivers and local experts, preparing information for guests and managing the trip accounts.
How do think Insight Vacations (IV) and Luxury Gold (LG) support women and their growth in the company?
Being a Travel Director necessitates extended periods away from home, and IV & LG work with their Travel Directors to ensure a work-life balance. When my daughter was still very young, the company recognised my need to have a certain number of days at home between trips to care for my family, which meant that I could maintain my career and ensure the health and security of my home life. Ulla is an exceptional example for us, too: a woman with a family and successful career who is clearly attuned to the needs of her team.
What makes working for IV or LG special to you?
The heart of everything I do is providing the best service to our guests, and I know that IV and LG share this mindset. I love a challenge and hold myself to a very high standard. Working for IV and LG means that I am continually pushed to perform at an elevated level of excellence. I wouldn’t want to work for any lower expectations.
How do you feel you directly contribute to travellers’ lives and experiences while travelling?
Our guests are always the number-one priority. From grand gestures of providing the group with a local flourish to the smaller details of remembering everyone’s name, everything I do is with the guest in mind. Travel is an experience with life-changing potential, the effects of which carry on long after a trip has ended. Travelling isn’t easy, which is why I place importance on my organisation to reassure guests that they are cared for, and on my cheer; a smile or a chuckle can be the difference between a good and a great day, and my interactions are aimed at producing exactly that.
Can you describe a defining moment in your career with IV and LG?
I had a couple travelling with their daughter and grandson on a Country Roads of Portugal trip in 2016. The gentleman was a first-generation American of a Portuguese family and, after being diagnosed with cancer, he and his family decided to visit Portugal for the first time; this was to be a special trip for all. They expressed interest in travelling to their ancestors’ hometown, which did not feature on the official trip itinerary. Calling local contacts, I was able to help them hire a private guide who would drive them to the town and guide them through. Privately, I contacted the Archives Office of the town and enquired after the family line. As all the family had emigrated from Portugal, no living members were present in the town, so I asked about the family plot in the town’s cemetery. I was able to give to the family the exact location of all their ancestors from this town in the municipal cemetery. During their visit, the local guide brought them there. The family was able to stand among their ancestors and learn about hundreds of years of family history through this. The gratitude that they expressed remains with me, years after.
What has been your favourite day on the job or your most memorable moment?
My favourite experiences with guests are the Celebration Dinners that occur on the last night of the trip. No matter where we are, having this opportunity to celebrate our new friends and experiences is, for me, always a highlight. We reflect on the great times we have shared over the preceding days, speeches and toasts are made, and the restaurants Insight Vacations chooses for these meals often represent the culinary climax of the trip. As a Travel Director (TD), the Celebration Dinner is an evening when I can look around at a room full of smiling, satisfied faces, and feel truly fulfilled in my work.
Why do you think more solo female travellers are choosing IV and LG journeys and what advice would you give female travellers when they’re travelling on their own?
The level of comfort and ease with which they can travel when booking with IV and LG plays a significant role in their choice. In my experience, solo travellers tend to be interested in the social aspect of group travel. Smaller groups mean guests have a better opportunity to connect with their fellow travellers, and the Travel Director has more time to provide personalised service. With a good balance of included events and time at leisure, solo female travellers can get to know a city through the local experts and included activities before further exploring on their own or with new friends. With all the services IV & LG provide, our guests can have a worry-free, dynamic and fun travel experience, whether travelling solo or otherwise.
My advice to solo female travellers engaging in group travel is to not hold back in interacting with fellow travellers and the travel director.