Travel is transformative — and so, too, is working within the travel and hospitality sector. Just ask an executive in the industry, like Nicole Tilzer, director of global brand marketing at Hilton: “The more you get to know other cultures, the more you get to have adventures and explore the world, the more you see that there’s so much that brings us together and that’s similar about us vs. how much is different,” Tilzer says. “I love getting to bring that to life for people.”
Women Leading Travel & Hospitality video-chatted with leaders across the industry — from aviation to hotels to online booking — and asked them what they love most about their line of work. Here’s what they said:
What excites you most about travel and hospitality?
“Definitely the humanitarian side of it. I love when people of different backgrounds and different cultures get together and learn from each other. I love the humanity that’s forged through travel.” — Kimberly Perkins, founder and president, Aviation for Humanity
“Travel and hospitality have always excited me because of the potential that they bring in a couple of areas. One is personal growth and discovery. It’s really true what our founder, Conrad Hilton, said: spreading the light and warmth of hospitality does open up new avenues for people to understand the world, understand each other and break down cultural barriers.
“And then the impact it has on communities. Everywhere we have a hotel … we’re a part of the community, we employ people within that community, and we’re obviously bringing in goods and services from that community. It’s pretty amazing that travel as an industry can have that impact.” — Amy Martin Ziegenfuss, vice president of global brand marketing, media, insights and performance, Hilton
“From my perspective it’s the people. Especially in aviation, you’re going to meet some of the most dedicated and passionate people you could possibly imagine. So many people, especially in the pilot function, have dreamt of flight since their earliest years. They were out at airports watching planes take off and signing up to take their discovery flights as soon as they were legally allowed to do so. And other professionals in every other role within the aviation industry really tend to be drawn to the idea of exploration and adventure, so conversations always have that excitable tone and are all built on this foundation or this idea that anything is possible.” — Jordan Maddex-Kopp, vice president of marketing and strategic partnerships, Jet Linx
“It’s the type of opportunities that we’re able to provide not just to the traveler, but to our teams in so many different markets. And the way that we’re able to bring cultures together, bring experiences forward, and have the right places to give you those memories that you’re going to carry on forever.” — Diana Plazas, chief sales and marketing officer, Marriott International
“I believe that being part of the sector helps me help others grow and find belonging through travel like I have. Every time I’ve traveled, I’ve felt like that new place has become a part of me somehow. It has changed me at a very fundamental level. And when I share this experience with others, I’ve seen that this is what travel does to people. It makes you more broad-minded; it helps you build connections. … I love my line of work, which helps me shape policies, contribute to new products and ideas, which makes travel more accessible, more inclusive and, frankly, more enjoyable for a lot more people.” — Nayana RenuKumar, head of public policy, Airbnb
“Getting to meet new people around the world and getting to explore all different countries and cultures. That’s been the most exciting part of my role as well. I feel like I have such a built-in friend network because we have such a global footprint.” — Cara Gresser, manager of global brand content, Four Seasons
“I think that it’s fascinating to watch how business is done and how things come together in the travel and hospitality industry. You know, Southwest Airlines’ purpose is to connect people to what’s important in their lives. When you think about the travel and hospitality industry, at its core, whether you’re an amusement park or an airline or a hotel, that connection that we’re making possible for people is really what it’s all about.” — Linda Rutherford, senior vice president and chief communications officer, Southwest Airlines
“This overall industry just really brings people closer together. There’s not a lot of experiences out in the world that really drive people to have connection and experience culture, and that’s something that I love about travel and hospitality because it really gives you that opportunity.” — Melissa Postier, director of brand, PR and social, Hotwire