Picture Perfect! Women Take Center Stage as Conferences and Events Return

Looking at the myriad of photos sent to us from an impressive number of women-centric lodging events this fall, COVID seems like a distant memory! Conferences are BACK and we are 100 percent here for it! What's even better is that women are gaining so much from gathering together. Scroll through this post to get a feel for some of the annual lodging events for women you’ll want to put on your calendar for next year!


My Place Hotels of America in Palm Beach–September

My Place Hotels of America gathered its owners, general managers, and corporate team for their annual brand conference in September, where the most talked about session was the "Women in Hospitality Panel" featuring Rachel Humphrey, Peggy Berg, Michelle Mahoney, Sarah Dinger, Katie Moore, and Jagruti Panwala, who represented five unique sectors of the hospitality industry, including real estate, ownership, brands, associations, and suppliers.

L to R: Rachel Humphrey, Peggy Berg, Sarah Dinger, Jagruti Panwala, Michelle Mahoney, and Katie Moore
L to R: Rachel Humphrey, Peggy Berg, Sarah Dinger, Jagruti Panwala, Michelle Mahoney, and Katie Moore

Each panelist shared their personal story, showcasing the breadth and variety of paths to leadership. They also discussed what obstacles are in the way for women and how we can overcome them, the importance of building relationships, networking, mentorship, champions, and allyship in elevating our careers. They also shared their strategies for personal empowerment, what resources are available, how we can contribute to our own growth, and how we can best advocate for ourselves.


Some standout quotes:


“Sometimes when we’re so busy that we don’t get to our most valued priority it’s because of a glitch in our brain that says we “don’t deserve it.” Root that out. Truly, you do deserve it.” Peggy Berg, Founder, Castell, an AHLA Foundation Project

Rachel Humphrey
Rachel Humphrey addressed the My Place crowd.

“If we want women to think differently about hospitality as a career, we must demonstrate that the industry thinks differently about us. We are already seeing some progress and events such as this help us strengthen our industry and continue moving forward together.” Jagruti Panwala, President & CEO, Wealth Protection Strategies; 2019-2020 AAHOA Chairwoman.


The Lodging Conference in Phoenix–September


Tennis legend Venus Williams spoke at The Lodging Conference about her hospitality design company V Starr
Tennis legend Venus Williams spoke at The Lodging Conference about her hospitality company V Starr

The Lodging Conference had a few DEI panels, honored Leslie Hale with a Castell Award, and offered a chance for the Women in Hospitality Leadership Alliance to meet up, read our full post on this event here.


Women in Tourism & Hospitality "Global Hybrid Summit" Blueprint for Change in Toronto–September

Canadian Women in Tourism Summit
A look at the room which had over 180 attendees!

At the sixth-annual Canadian Women in Tourism & Hospitality Summit 180 individuals gathered in person to strategize how to advance diversity and inclusion in our industry, measure success, increase ownership, and celebrate excellence and best practices. Keynote speakers included STR's president, Amanda Hite, Maryann Turcke, board member at RBC and Senior Advisor at the National Football League and Katie Taylor, honorary chair of WITHOrg.

Canadian Women in Tourism Summit
Canadian Women in Tourism Summit fireside chat

Women Leading Travel & Hospitality Roundtable in New York City-October

L to R: Helen Horsham-Bertels, Anu Saxena, Maryssa Miller, Lucy Bueti, and Kristen Reynolds
L to R: Helen Horsham-Bertels, Anu Saxena, Maryssa Miller, Lucy Bueti, and Kristen Reynolds

Women Leading Travel & Hospitality had a roundtable in New York City with women from Hilton, Mint House, Priceline, and Discover Long Island featuring conversation focused on executive professional development and business and industry strategy. The roundtable began with a networking hour, followed by a keynote presentation and panel discussion ending with additional networking. The next event is in San Fransico in December.


Latino Hotel Association Annual Conference in Dallas–October

Breakout session at the Latino Hotel Association conference in  Dallas
Breakout session at the Latino Hotel Association conference in Dallas

With a focus on hotel ownership, lending, and negotiation, the Latino Hotel Association event in Dallas mixed practical learning and networking. Many women spoke on panels and led breakout discussions.

Latino Hotel Association conference
Panel discussion on purchasing a hotel at the Latino Hotel Association conference

BLLA Hotel Owners Conference & Awards in LA–October

Boutique Hotel Owners Conference
Cocktail BLLA event, which had lots of women attending!

Boutique hotel owners gathered for the BLLA event in Los Angeles at the end of October to discuss trends, share news, and network all things boutique and beyond.

Caryl Helsel with Ariela Kiradjian, who presented the Inaugural TIEWN Fearless Women Award 2022 BLLA
Caryl Helsel (left) with Ariela Kiradjian, who presented her the Inaugural TIEWN Fearless Women Award 2022

AAHOA Inaguaral HerOwnership Conference–October in Cincinnati

AAHOA HerOwnership
AAHOA HerOwnership crowd

AAHOA, the nation’s largest hotel owners association, held its inaugural HerOwnership Conference & Retreat at the Radisson Hotel Cincinnati Riverfront in late October. The event focused on women who are interested in owning their first hotel or learning about owning hotels in general. Designed to educate women about how to own property and promote women who are interested in exploring hotel ownership, the conference/retreat was fab for learning, networking, and some fun!

AAHOA HerOwnership
The AAHOA group of ladies that gathered.

"Seeing all of these dynamic women in all areas of hospitality come together for a few days of education and relaxation was extremely powerful,” Lina Patel, AAHOA's female director, eastern division, said in a statement. “I’m proud to have worked alongside the entire AAHOA team in launching the HerOwnership program. This conference and retreat gave women hoteliers an opportunity of a lifetime.”

AAHOA HerOwnership conference
You can't spell hero without HER!

Castell@College

The Castell Project holds "Castell@College" events at college campuses throughout the year to inspire women in hospitality programs with "real talk" on what it takes to succeed in work and life. Sessions below from events held at Kennesaw State University, FIU, and Scripps College.

castell at college
No childcare? No problem. Chantal Ge Wu's daughter joins the panel with Esther Yi, Laura West Presnol, Davonne Reaves and CJ Carr.

Professor Esther Yi at Kennesaw State University’s hospitality program hosted a panel of four women for Castell@College. The morning of the event, moderator Chantal Ge Wu’s daughter needed to join mom, and Chantal reached out to see if Esther and the other panelists would be comfortable with her bringing her daughter. The quick & universal response was a resounding & supportive Yes! Castell@College’s mission is to inspire the next generation of diverse hospitality leaders, and the panelists couldn't think of a better place to start than for this lovely young girl to watch her mom moderating a panel of women executives!

L to R: Karen Ramon, Sohpia Pittaluga, Lani Kane Hanan, and Leslie Weil.
L to R: Karen Ramon, Sohpia Pittaluga, Lani Kane Hanan, and Leslie Weil at FIU

Castell@College
Tracy Prigmore addressed the crowd along with Terri Haack, JJ White, and Clara Carter.

The Independent Hotel Show in London–October

Thousands of independent hoteliers and suppliers from across the UK gathered in London for a range of educational seminars, awards, and networking. A panel on "Allyship & Hospitality Go Hand in Hand" was moderated by hertelier's Emily Goldfischer and included a conversation on gender inclusion. Hertelier contributor Christalena Vraila, co-founder and director of award-winning digital agency Mr. Highline spoke about TikTok vs Instagram for hotels.

Emily Goldfischer with Alessandra Alonso, Gavin Cooper, and Chris King
Emily Goldfischer with Alessandra Alonso, Gavin Cooper, and Chris King

WORTH Association "Empower Her Tour" in Victoria BC–October & November

WORTH Association started their Empower Her tour in Kelowna BC on October 18th, followed by an event in Victoria BC on November 2nd. WORTH Association hosts panel discussions across Western Canada to educate, elevate and empower women of recreation, tourism, and hospitality. Each Empower Her event features a diverse panel of perspectives, featuring self-identifying women who have been trailblazers in the industry. At the evening reception, over 125 women (and men!) across sectors network over food and wine. The EmpowerHer tour will continue with events in Vancouver and Whistler, BC this Spring.

ELLEN WALKER-MATTHEWS CEO, Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) SANDY LEIER Winemaker, Laughing Stock Vineyards  SIOBHAN DETKAVICH Chef / Television Personality, Top Chef Canada and Dine Your Sign  LISANNE BALLANTYNE CEO, Tourism Kelowna CHRISTINA FERREIRA Owner, Impact Events  SHELLEY ROBINSON Chef / Business Owner, Golden Lucky Peach Enterprises
L to R: Ellen Walker-Matthews, Sandy Leier, Siobhan Detkavitch, Lisanne Ballantyne, Christina Ferreira, Shelley Robinson at the Kelowna event.

Robin Whyte - Creator & Director, Girl About Town: Accessible Victoria Assetou Coulibaly- Project Manager, Accent Inns Madone Pelan- GM of Oak Bay Beach Hotel Alexandra Wilson- Wine Club Manager, Blue Grouse Estate Winery Anita Voorsulys- Senior Program Advisor, BC Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport Diedre Campbell- President, tartanbonde Communications
L to R: Robin Whyte, Assetou Coulibaly, Madone Pelan, Alexandra Wilson, Anita Voorsulys, Diedre Campbell at the Victoria event.

Women in Travel Thrive lunch in DC–October

Washington DC was the setting for the first in-person VIP Executive Luncheon for members of Women in Travel Thrive in Washington DC organized by Mercedes Blanco and Lynn Zwibak, held in October & sponsored by The Hotels Network.

Good times at the first Women in Travel Thrive meet up in DC.
Good times at the first Women in Travel Thrive meet up in DC.

New England Inns and Resorts Association (NEIRA) Conference in New Hampshire–November

NEIRA's Annual Conference offers the Association's membership a chance to learn about emerging trends from industry experts, and an opportunity to network and share best practices with hospitality colleagues and over 50 hospitality suppliers showcasing their products and services. Every year one of the evenings is dedicated to a theme and this year it was Bridgerton! Hertelier contributor Rachel Vandenberg gathered this group of mostly Accelerate Women Leaders in Travel alumni for a champagne toast before the dinner. Congratulations to Rachel who was given the NEIRA Innovator Award! LOVE the Bridgerton theme fancy dress!


Left to Rights: Sarah Mariano, Olivia Terrazzano, Gabrielle Mogil, Patrice Cleaves, Carleen Lalor, Denise Dietlein, Rachel Vandenberg, Sarah Howe, Paige Radney, Heather Allen, Bonnie Brill, Sarah Morris - Photo credit: Elizabeth Campbell Photography
L to R: Sarah Mariano, Olivia Terrazzano, Gabrielle Mogil, Patrice Cleaves, Carleen Lalor, Denise Dietlein, Rachel Vandenberg, Sarah Howe, Paige Radney, Heather Allen, Bonnie Brill, Sarah Morris - Photo credit: Elizabeth Campbell Photography

World Travel Market in London–November

Finally, WTM is in London this week bringing together more than 2,000 destinations and travel companies. Women have been center stage on many panels including an aviation panel made up entirely of women with a male moderator. On the final day of the conference Women in Travel CIC hosts a networking event for women.

Julia Simpson, President and CEO of WTTC, at WTM London
Julia Simpson, President, and CEO of WTTC, speaks in the opening session of WTM London.