ICYMI (but you really shouldn’t have), we’ve been speaking to all sorts of inspiring Women in Travel lately.
Why you ask? Because our inaugural Women in Travel Awards are set to be held next Monday night (!!) – so in the spirit of recognising the amazing women in this industry, we thought we would seek the best of the best out.
These have included some of the leading ladies from companies like Flight Centre, Contiki, Helloworld and many more – and now its time for Tourism Fiji’s PR Manager, Sarah-Louise Robinson, to spill the tea on all things travel.
How did you get started in the travel industry?
I actually started temping in the UK for an over 50s holiday provider called Saga Holidays, then after a year I did a complete 180 and headed into Nuclear Power as Assistant PRO.
I had many years in waste management, local government, and energy PR with a lot of crisis comms, but always yearned to be back working on consumer PR, so I started working in aviation (globally coordinating Etihad PR, and launching the A380 with SQ) as the transition back to tourism.
Can you describe your experience working your way up in the travel industry?
It hasn’t come without challenges; some roles haven’t suited my passions and skill set, but every challenge we encounter in life shapes us.
They are all experiences to learn from, to bring to the next role. I started in-house after I left university, made the move to agency-side for the most part of my career, but realised that in-house is what I prefer as I like the idea of dedicating my whole working week to one destination, I live and breathe the brand.
Travel is what I live for, so I genuinely love what I do.
What’s been the most satisfying thing about your career so far?
It is always nice to be recognised for achievements, and back when I was working in London I managed the PR for a short campaign for Paris Ile-de-France which won the IPRA global award for tourism PR that year, but awards aside, the most satisfying part of my job is the relationships formed.
Whether that is with media, partners or my team. Good relationships are key in PR.
What have been some of the challenges you’ve encountered?
There are always challenges in any role, but the biggest challenges for me are when you are not allowed to flourish in your career, whether as a result of micro-management or lack of flexibility within organisations.
If you have a happy team with high morale, you will see productivity increase.
Fiji, as a destination, is all about happiness and that shines through within the whole organisation. My love of PR and a happy working environment is what makes me feel excited to wake up for work every day.
Women earn 24 per cent across the travel industry, research shows. What is your view on the gender pay gap?
I believe if women and men have the same skills and experience and can produce the same results, then the pay should be equal.
There is now more transparency in some industries around pay, so I would hope this small movement in the right direction will help the shift towards a smaller pay gap.
Do you think females are underrepresented at executive level and what can we do about the issue?
Definitely. The tourism industry has a lot of females working within it, but very few at executive level and often I think this is down to confidence.
Men will apply for a job if they have 60 per cent of the skills, and learn on the job. Women tend not to apply unless they have about 90 per cent of the skills. As females, we need to support each other and build each other up, to have the confidence to move up the ladder.
How do you support young female talent in your organisation?
I am currently the only female in the office, but when I’ve had female executives before, I’ve always tried to be as supportive as possible and trusting them to execute the work without micro-managing, allowing them to make mistakes along the way: It is the only way we learn.
Who do you look up to in the travel industry? Have you had any mentors along the way?
Sarah Anderson, MD at GTI Tourism was a great mentor to me along the way and she has a great team that produces brilliant results, largely thanks to the supportive culture she creates for the working environment.
She also sponsored me with my first job in Australia, so I wouldn’t be living here and an Australian Citizen if it wasn’t for her! I also think the co-founder of Lastminute.com, Martha Lane-Fox, is someone who I have admired in the past. She launched at the start of the dotcom boom, just as I was starting out in my career, and revolutionised the way we think about travel and booking travel.
Travel Weekly is proud to present the Women in Travel Awards held on 27 November at Doltone House Darling Island.
The gorgeous cocktail party will unveil the best of the female talent in travel, as well as our divine Power List, recognising the 30 most influential women in the Australia travels cape. Pretty good Monday night if you ask us.
Oh, and by the way, Naomi Simson – renowned Shark Tank star and businesswoman powerhouse, is our keynote speaker!! Yeah, it’s a pretty big deal.
Plus a massive thanks to all our sponsors: