50 MOST IMPORTANT WOMEN IN TRAVEL 46-50
46 Neelam Khanna, Co-founder, Ananda in the Himalayas
A visit to Ananda in the Himalayas is the epitome of a dream getaway, and that is no small part thanks to co-founder, Neelam Khanna. Her 40 year career has spanned fields like art, design and wellness, so it’s no wonder India’s best spa combines organic cuisine with traditional Ayurveda, Yoga and Vedanta, all at a stunning 19th Century Maharaja’s palace, over the breadth of 100 acres.
“Wellness travel is becoming more purpose oriented,” says Khanna. “It’s focusing on improving health from within, using alternative healing therapies, focusing not just on the body, but in terms of the mind and emotions. This is something that we have been seeing in our guests too. They travel to us to do proper intense detoxes, manage pain issues, do panchakarma and more.”
Has the current American news cycle got you down? Don’t worry! Stress is prevalent all over the world. “I don’t think it’s country specific,” says Khanna. “Stressful conditions and poor lifestyle choices exist all over, and most people do not know how to handle work stress and stress from personal relationships. This is why it’s important to work with trained experts who can help you manage stress and balance your mind, body and spirit.”
When choosing a hotel for her own retreats, luxury and location are of utmost importance. Brittany, France is a favorite destination for Khanna, and if she could travel anywhere in the world, it would be to an island in the Caribbean. (And we’d go to Ananda…)
47 Alessandra Alonso, Founder, Women in Travel
UK-based Women in Travel is a mentoring, entrepreneur encouraging, general women empowering organization, started as a program by Alonso at a travel conference in London in 2014. It quickly took on it’s own life and has become a number of annual events, mostly held in England but also internationally, which have helped hundreds of women find nourishing careers in travel. It also spawned Women Returners Services, a program to help women who have had crises get into travel sector jobs.
“I am totally committed to ensuring that women remain at the heart of communities as I firmly believe this is the only way we will ever achieve a sustainable society,” she says. Too often in the relentless pursuit of business growth in travel we lose sight that life can’t just be about more revenues. This is a lady who is changing lives.
48 Caryn Seidman-Becker, CEO, Clear
The old cliche that it’s not the destination that matters, but the journey, doesn’t really sit well when you’re waiting in the airport security line for an hour, sweat drenching you and someone yelling to take your shoes off as the tannoy system announces your flight boarding. It’s exactly this kind of stress that the CEO of Clear, Caryn Seidman-Becker, is trying to eradicate. Clear is a personal identification company that was floundering in 2010 when Seidman-Becker, a hedge fund manager, bought it. Through strong leadership and great efforts to reinstate trust in the company, she dragged Clear from the brink of bankruptcy into the mainstream. Clear now boasts financial backing from Delta Airlines, integration in over 65 airports and stadiums, and millions of loyal members. The service allows you to pass through security checkpoints faster by using biometric fingerprint and retina scans (after initially passing a background check). Caryn says the technology allows you to take control of your travels to make the “curb-to-gate” experience in an airport more seamless. This is God’s work.
She is looking to expand Clear’s services internationally, and hoping to eventually apply the technology to everything from healthcare services to grocery store payments.
49 Rebecca Tobin, Managing Editor, Travel Weekly
Rebecca is vital to the smooth running and journalistic quality of the travel industry’s largest and most important trade publication. She also runs the magazine’s monthly Twitter #TWchats, which traffic in millions of impressions (and hundreds of millions for the annual Travel Editors Roundtable twitter version of a food fight). What do you see as the future of the travel business? What will be the next big trend? I think the coronavirus has thrown the travel industry for a loop right now, but I think that once people go to book new trips, or postponed or canceled ones, there’ll be a rise in multigenerational and meaningful travel with loved ones. The other big trend will be sustainability and eco friendly travel.
What is the most beautiful, special place you’ve ever gone to? I’d say Japan. That’s where my brother lives, and we traveled a bit and finished in Kyoto, which is truly a special city. We used a Japan specialist called Esprit Tours to organize the trip, and they booked us a guide in Kyoto who unlocked exclusive experiences and gave us recommendations for kaiseki dinner. Favorite Hotel? It almost always comes down to the ability of the staff to “read” their guests and respond appropriately. Also, the hotel doesn’t have to be a luxury brand to be memorable — we had fun at the Radisson Blu Mall of America in Minnesota; they had set up a little camping tent in our room for my daughter.
What do you look for in a vacation, and if you could go anywhere where would you go? If I could go anywhere, I might take my entire extended family back to Alaska and stay in the heart of Denali National Park, at a lodge called Camp Denali, where guests can stay in cabins with views of Mount Denali, do guided hikes and get delicious, hearty meals and great conversation with other guests. If winter, I think Hokkaido in Japan, skiing. Since you have such an inside look at all things travel, who is doing it right? I covered the cruise industry for several years, and I am always impressed with ship design and amenities. They’re taking a finite amount of space and creatively adding restaurants and bars, entertainment spaces, rope courses and fitness activities, and of course there’s those sea views. The lines have been investing heavily in their private islands, which are exclusive, beach-focused stops, primarily in the Bahamas, and the activities they’re putting in are really impressive.
50 Lauren Bates, Founder, Wild Terrains
When one day looking for women-only group travel, Lauren discovered that everything was clumped around either yoga, trekking and surfing, or wine and spas, and had her Eureka moment. She created Wild Terrains to offer wider-ranged interests trips and deeper dives into an area, and to support women-owned businesses. How does Wild Terrains meaningfully support women’s businesses locally? Every single aspect of our itinerary partners with women business owners, chefs, artists, designers, and architects. That means from the hotel you sleep in to the food you eat, you are supporting women-run businesses in our destinations. Are your travelers sometimes missing out by only patronizing women vendors on your trips? I understand why you ask that question, but I really don’t think so! Our itineraries are one-of-a-kind and the best way to see Mexico City and Portugal in a non-touristy way.”