Commentary

#PressForProgress In Travel Marketing

The #PressForProgress campaign is inevitably affecting the marketing of travel, an industry where women have long been the decision makers, whether as consumers or travel professionals. A recent example was the hiring of Wendy White as vice president of marketing for Egencia, the corporate travel arm of Expedia.

This followed the appointment of three other women to the Egencia Global Leadership Team, including Mieke de Schepper, chief commercial officer; Verena Funke, interim managing director, APAC, and Teresa Matheson, managing director, Australia. The company said it is aligning with Expedia’s commitment to gender, as well as other diversity representation at all levels. 

Said White, “Within the global marketing organization alone, the diversity across gender and cultural background places us in the best position to address complex problems, improve decision-making, drive forward innovation and ultimately set us up for success.” 

Expedia claims to have achieved 100% gender pay parity across men and women in equivalent roles, with 35% of leadership positions now held by women. The Egencia announcement also noted that, according to the Global Business Travel Association, 47% of women who travel are on the road for business. 

Rob Greyber, president of Egencia, said that for Egencia to reach its aggressive growth goals, the company needs a world-class marketing organization willing to make bold moves. He said White’s “passion and drive extend beyond her role, and we look forward to seeing her accelerate the path for the next generation of women entrepreneurs and business leaders within Egencia.”

White said in an email interview that Egencia values workplace diversity, gender balance, pay equity and inclusion “to help us achieve greater business results for our employees, our customers and the company as a whole.” In addition to the global marketing focus, she said, her new role provides an opportunity for her to apply her expertise to various areas of the organization, including business development, sales and lead generation, while also working closely with other members of the global leadership team.

As one of the largest global travel management companies, said White, Egencia achieving gender equality in the workforce is especially important and helps provide a 360-degree view of the marketplace. Not only does it diversify thinking at the management level, which has a trickle-down effect within all other areas of the organization, but it can also add to company strategy in thinking about expanding to different business verticals, helping achieve growth goals and empowering employees to press for progress.

Of course, this movement has far broader implications than one travel company. In a recent article called “Promoting Gender Equality in Hospitality,” for Hotel Executive, an online publication, Lisa Cain, assistant professor in the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at Florida International University, noted that a recent article in Esquire pointed to the inequalities for women in hospitality. The article, according to Cain, said those inequalities were based on the perception that women “are less profitable to invest in, have smaller profiles than males, receive fewer accolades and rewards than their male counterparts and are reviewed less often and less favorably than men in media outlets.”

To counteract those perceptions, Cain said there are active programs throughout the industry that may help ensure that women are promoted in an equitable manner, based on qualifications. She also had these recommendations for companies:

  • Initiate conversations about promotions so that women and men both actively seek more important roles.
  • Engage in participative leadership so that all employees get involved in workplace decision making. 
  • Don’t just support and mentor — sponsor. That means not just telling mentees what to do to succeed, but “put your neck out there for them and recommend them for advancement, actively engage in networking with them to help open doors and go to bat for them when you have the ear of decision makers.”
  • Promote work-life balance, which often benefits female employees.

If a company like Egencia, which involves a large company marketing to other large companies can attune its marketing to this movement, travel marketers targeting consumers should take heed. It may be a cliché but it’s true: it’s not just the right thing to do but it’s good business as well.

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