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A New Women's Innovation Council Aims to Pioneer Change in Hospitality

Last month, the Global Revenue Forum drew 1,500 hoteliers from around the world to London (and online) for a conference themed "Roadmap to Resilience," covering topics from culture to technology, as viewed through a commercial lens. The session that interested us most? Learning about transformative ambitions of the Women's Innovation Council. Michael Frenkel, president of MFC PR, and Georgine Muntz, CEO of Visual Matrix, outlined the new council's mission and the broader implications for diversity and innovation in hospitality. Here are some of the highlights of their chat.


Michael Frenkel and Georgine Muntz at the Global Revenue Forum 2024
Michael Frenkel and Georgine Muntz at the Global Revenue Forum 2024

The Genesis of the Women's Innovation Council


Getting right into it, Georgine Muntz explained the origins and mission of the Women’s Innovation Council, describing it as "a group of leaders from North American hotel brands, technology companies, and associations... to enable women who are leaders in these spaces to discuss ways to promote progress for all stakeholders in the progress of innovation and technology with a special focus: COLLABORATION." Setting the stage for the council's dedication to fostering collaborative solutions that embrace diversity and inclusivity.


Built In Bias: The Challenges of AI and Diversity


The conversation took a thought-provoking turn when discussing artificial intelligence (AI) and its implications for women in hospitality. Georgine shared an enlightening perspective, "At our last meeting, one participant said that AI is both a friend and a foe. The underlying the data, all the data accumulated say over the past 250 years, there is an inherent bias against women. How we speak about them in the workplace, criteria we use for hiring and promotion, the way we frame our conversations and business practices. AI could work to reinforce old stereotypes and not promote progress at all, couldn’t it?" This eye-opening revelation highlights the critical need for looking at the data AI is drawing on as it shapes the future of our industry.


Lessons from Auto Finance: A Blueprint for Hospitality


Reflecting on her background, Georgine drew valuable lessons from her successful experiences working in the auto finance industry, emphasizing, "Truly, is about collaboration. I’ve worked with dozens of strong women leaders, in auto-finance and other industries, who always impressed me with the vision that collaboration is possible and productive, even among the most dug-in competitors. And that it works - and broadens the field of success for everyone!"

 

She sees this translating to the hotel industry in her work at Visual Matrix.  "We are primarily a property management service (PMS) provider, but also have a housekeeping app and other products. If we are competing with another tech provider for PMS, why would we not collaborate around housekeeping and in other areas? We do - with several competitors. And it’s to everyone’s benefit!"

She argued that the hotels benefit most when the best minds on innovation work together rather than sitting in silos, noting, "Silos are poison. Women bring a stronger predisposition toward collaboration than men do, and can lead this effort."

"Silos are poison. Women bring a stronger predisposition toward collaboration than men do, and can lead this effort." –– Georgine Muntz

Fostering Innovation Through Female Leadership


Georgine passionately discussed the council's role in promoting female leadership within technology and hospitality, stating, "Our group focuses specifically on innovation and the role of women in pushing it forward... Why aren’t there more female CEOs? What new perspectives could more women bring to the dialogue to bring tech providers and hotel professionals closer together?" Her questions challenge the industry to embrace diversity as a catalyst for innovation and growth.


Expanding Horizons: A Global Vision for Change


Looking to the future, the conversation underscored the council's ambition to extend its reach globally. "Absolutely. We are one industry with one set of concerns worldwide," Georgine affirmed, inviting global participation in advancing the council's mission. This vision for international collaboration reflects a commitment to fostering innovation and diversity across the global hospitality landscape.


The conversation concluded with a call to action, "You and I have worked together to build the Women’s Council in the U.S. We would love to speak with anyone who is interested in joining the group and perhaps extending its work in London - or Stockholm - or Milan or elsewhere around the world!"


By championing collaboration, diversity, and innovation, the Women's Innovation Council aims to redefine the sector, promising a more inclusive and dynamic future for women in hospitality technology and leadership. If you'd like to get involved, email Michael Frenkel at michael@mfcpr.com.



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