Globetrender speaks with Emily Goldfischer, founder and editor-in-chief of online media platform Hertelier, about female leadership, gender equity, trans inclusivity and support for working mothers.

What is Hertelier?

Hertelier is an online media platform that enlightens and inspires women in hospitality to pursue, navigate, and nurture their careers at every stage, through sharing information and sparking conversation.

“Our content is curated through the lens of supporting women in their hotel industry careers-sharing valuable lessons from accomplished pros and rising stars, covering business skills, work-life balance, industry news, and networking opportunities-presented in a fresh voice, with bold graphics and social media integration.”Hertelier

How is it innovative?

“Hertelier is innovative as we are laser-focused on the issues, topics, and stories that are most important and interesting to women. It also turns out that those stories are also interesting to men.”

What is your background and why did you set it up?

“After working in hotels and studying hotel management at Cornell University, I fell into the marketing end of the business. I started right after university working for a public relations agency that specialized in hotels, resorts, destinations, and cruise lines.

“I took a break to go back to school, actually coming here to study at the London School of Economics, getting my masters in Social Psychology, and learning more about the underpinnings of how people act and why they make decisions.

“Despite hoping to stay in London, I was unable to secure a work permit as an American and went back to New York City, returning to the same PR agency which was very busy. I began working on the Hyatt Resorts account, among others, helping them launch programs for families, golfers, and wellness.

“From there I went in-house to run the communications and public relations for Loews Hotels, which I did for ten years, an amazing experience as we launched several exciting branded programmes and opened about ten new hotels, three onsite at Universal Orlando.

“In 2010, my husband was offered the chance to move to London for his career, and we thought it was a great opportunity for our family. Relocating with two small children, I flipped to journalism and became the London correspondent for Luxury Travel Advisor, which I still do.

“It is no secret that the hotel industry has historically been very male-dominated, and it still is, with about one woman for every ten executives in the C-suite. About five years ago I noticed a shift – that women were moving into bigger roles within the hotel industry-leading brands or getting marquee general manager jobs at iconic city hotels and mega-resorts.

“I felt there was an audience that wanted to hear more about these women, and that the industry needed a space where future generations of women could be inspired. During the pandemic, in March of 2021, I decided to create Hertelier to fill that void.”

Can you describe your business model?

“After building an engaged audience over the last two years, we have just launched our partnership programme this month. I’m pleased to report that eight companies have already signed on – Hyatt, IHG, Loews Hotels, Red Roof, Extended Stay America, a start-up hotel brand called Roomza, a tech platform, Thynk, JLL Hotels, the real estate advisor, and the forward-thinking design firm, David Collins Studio. We have a few more partnerships in the works that I cannot announce yet, but definitely pleased to see companies looking to promote and support women in leadership.”

What are your plans for growth?

“Building more partnerships for sponsored content, doing events, and down the line research, and possibly education. In the short term, we are working on developing a few breakfast events in London and New York for later this year.”

What trends do you predict for the role of women in the travel industry?

“Great question, I actually made seven predictions for this year, which you can read on Hertelier and they include: seeing more women take on leadership roles; more inclusivity in the industry with more female leaders, more innovation by women in everything from branding to sustainability to technology. We are also seeing more women entrepreneurs, women going into hotel ownership, and more women helping each other to succeed through networking and creating associations to support women navigating their careers.”

What does gender equity in the travel industry look like?

“Depending on which research you use, the travel workforce is anywhere from 50-70 per cent female across all levels but shrinks to about 10 per cent in leadership. Equality will see a 50-50 split at the top and gender equity will see the industry look for ways to give women, and minorities, the opportunity and support to reach for those higher rungs of the corporate ladder.

“Systemic change needs to happen to create this support, from the government helping with childcare as we just saw announced in the UK, to more flexible scheduling, to companies creating programmes like RISE at IHG for female GMs and the Women@Hyatt program at Hyatt to give women the opportunities to build their management skills and move up.”

How do you serve the trans community – do you represent trans women?

“We definitely are interested to support and create awareness around the issues that are important to trans women. We recently ran a story about how gendered language can impact both hotel workers and guests that are non-binary or trans, focused on the Pan Pacific London which recently ran a training programme on the topic.”

Which travel and hospitality are leading the way when it comes to supporting female and nonbinary LGBTQ+ staff?

“Across the board, you are seeing developmental programs for women at all the big hotel companies, IHG with their Journey to Tomorrow and their RISE program for female GMs, Hyatt with the Women@Hyatt, and Marriott has their Women Ambassador Network to name a few.

“In terms of LGBTQ+ staff, we are seeing the beginnings of programmes to support these groups, and while these things need time to take hold, progress is happening. Interestingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, smaller companies are able to make change happen faster.

“Canadian brand Accent Inns has a very inclusive environment that has won the company numerous awards for being ‘a best employer in Canada’. In the LGBTQ+ space certainly, Pan Pacific London, mentioned before, has taken a leadership role. At the end of the day, numerous studies have shown that the more diverse teams companies have, the more profitable they are, so hopefully, change is inevitable.”

Which travel and hospitality are leading the way when it comes to women in C-suite positions?

“Looking at hotel industry executive moves, there is much to celebrate in recent appointments: Amber Asher, CEO of Standard International; Katerina Giannouka, Jumeirah CEO; Maud Bailly, CEO at Accor of MGallery, Sofitel, and Emblems; Jillian Katcher, President, Twin Bridges Hospitality; Danielle Schneider, CEO, Pathfinder Hospitality, and Julie Arrowsmith, was named interim CEO for G6 Hospitality.

“Tina Edmundson was just promoted to President, luxury, at Marriott International, which also has a long-time female CFO who now leads development, Leeny Oberg. Here in the UK, IHG has four women in a total of ten C-suite roles. These women leaders are not just inspiring others, but they are also promoting more women on their teams. Women seem to feel a responsibility to ‘lift as they climb’.”

Which travel and hospitality are leading the way when it comes to supporting working mothers?

“Childbearing, while a blessing, still remains a challenge and set-back for working women across all sectors and industries, as women are seen as the default carers throughout our lives, with expectations and responsibilities men still do not share equally, generally speaking. This is why we are also seeing unprecedented levels of burnout among women. Government-led systemic change is needed and companies should be lobbying for this.

“The pandemic has spurred on some change, on the one hand, many women dropped out of the workforce, though many have returned as more roles have become remote and flexible which does allow women the opportunity for progression.

“In terms of specific programs, Hilton recently announced and upgraded their benefits, with a ‘Care For All’ platform designed to help employees through all stages of life with resources for: Eldercare, Childcare, Pet Care and Self Care. US Team Members also receive unlimited access to a Care Concierge.”