Erika Bucsi, Glenda Mills-Webb and Zeynep Taskin lead the RaizUp community in UK & Ireland and back up our mission to advocate for a more diverse culture in hospitality and travel-tech organizations.
Get to know our chapter leaders better in the following blog interview and learn more about RaizUp UK & Ireland chapter plans.
Meet the chapter leaders
- Erika Bucsi is Enterprise Director of Sales, EMEA & APAC at Knowland.
- Glenda Mills-Webb is specialising in Business Travel, Global Sales and Account Management.
- Zeynep Taskin is Growth Consultant at Favstay.
What was your first travel job and what did it teach you?
Erika: My first role was a management internship in the US which allowed me to experience different departments in a hotel and eventually made me decide on what exactly I wanted to do long term in the industry. I chose events and spent majority of my career in hotels, events operations, sales and revenue. Even now in hospitality technology, I represent a solution specialising on meetings and events analytics.
Glenda: After studying, my first travel position was as a Hotel Management Trainee. This involved working in every department alongside HOD’s to gain a full understanding. At the end, I decided to specialise in sales. Doing this gave me an insight into how all departments & teams need to work together for smooth delivery and success.
Zeynep: My first travel job was working as an Activation Manager at OYO UK. I was responsible for the onboarding of a wide portfolio of hotels and making sure that all requirements for going live were met in a timely manner, working with Central Supply. It taught me how to multitask on a daily basis and also manage varying expectations of different stakeholders that I dealt with internally and externally.
Which company in hospitality / travel tech you admire and why?
Erika: I find various different companies admirable in hospitality and travel, hard to choose a single one. To me companies that constantly innovate, even if it is risky and put the customer in the focus of their innovation are the best. One key objective all these companies have in common is customer retention. I think that is the key to their success.
Glenda: Over the years I have watched and admired a lot of companies across many sectors and been able to work for a few. I am excited to see who adapts and evolves
following the challenges of 2020 with a worldwide pandemic, a shift in the need for modern technology, mass customer and consumer communication along with employee wellbeing.
Zeynep: During the peak of the pandemic, we have seen companies face extremely tough decisions and some have not been the most thoughtful while engaging with their employees. The one that I admired the most was Airbnb, I found that the letter issued to their employees to be made redundant was very personal, heartfelt and reflected true leaderships despite the circumstances.
What one book or movie you recommend to other tourism professionals?
Erika: There are many great books and movies and I believe there is no “one size fits all”. However I like to read or watch anything that offers a different perspective, even if I do not fully identify myself with the approach or the message. One of those is the book: The Challenger Sale, which is a must-read item of many global hotel chain sales teams as well as major tech companies. The book argues that relationship-building is no longer the best sales method, which I do not fully agree with, but I find the idea “challenging” and so very educational.
Glenda: So many but the one that sticks with me the most, can be picked up for clarity or when a fresh perspective is required: Who moved my cheese. We all follow a maze with work, projects, life but sometimes that maze shifts. This results in the need to change things up, adapt and more importantly anticipate and enjoy the changes. The message is so simple but highly effective.
Zeynep: This will probably sound very different and quirky, but I recently re-watched The Devil Wears Prada with my boyfriend and it has managed to take me back to my early days at OYO. Seeing the character development in the movie, I think for young women and professionals in any given industry, it is important to remember that if you really unlock that passion within, you end up completing tasks that once seemed impossible and learn how to overcome your fear or reservations of dealing with anyone in the room (luckily I did not have it as bad as Miranda Priestly!).
Why did you become a RaizUp chapter leader?
Erika: I am passionate about hospitality, coaching and mentorship. Hope I can support many people with my experience and by organising activities and collating helpful content together with the other RaizUp UK&I chapter leaders.
Glenda: After participating in GBTA for 3 years outside my day job, returning from maternity leave (mid pandemic) along with the BLM message and equality being front stage. It felt right for me to give back somewhere, somehow. RaizUp working with the other UK & I Chapter Leaders felt right.
Zeynep: Since my school years, I loved connecting with others around various causes and connect to an agenda much more meaningful than our day jobs alone. I do not want to define myself with or seek fulfilment via my career only as I think it is not only slippery (seeing that jobs and careers may change) but also, quite limiting as communities across the globe are entwined and connected more than ever via social platforms and technology to be bound by our 9-6 connections only. Seeing the vibrancy of the RaizUp community, I simply could not help but want to be a part of this synergy.
What are the current hospitality and travel tech challenges in UK & Ireland? How do you plan to address them?
Currently, it is really difficult to think of anything else other than COVID-19. The previous issues we have faced do seem rather marginal. In fact, traveling domestically will gain more demand as it has begun already in many countries. Small accommodations or hotels/ restaurants that had less online visibility and presence will now look to expand such capabilities.
Moreover, Brexit will pose several issues in regards to talent in the industry. With EU nationals now needing to get visas to work in the UK, many will feel discouraged or potentially will not qualify for some visa routes due to their positions. This will put further pressure on sourcing talent but hopefully will re-shift focus to training, development and other programmes for our industry.
It will be interesting to see how the UK will adapt to this smaller talent pool in the upcoming months and years following once travel resumes. For our members, we hope that our training sessions and future events will help to increase their industry knowledge, professional skills and also offer a solid professional network as well as encourage diversity in our industry.
What are your chapter plans for 2021?
With the RaizUp member survey released in December 2020 (still time to complete), we want to continue to gain feedback on what members would like to see delivered, we want them to engage and feel heard.
We will share industry insight, support with soft and hard skills, engage with postgraduates coming into the industry, shed light on Mental Health and Wellbeing along with Personal Development, Diversity and Inclusion. We are looking forward to a broad set of topics in the coming months.
How can members get involved with RaizUp UK & Ireland?
Members can give input on specific content or topics and shape the chapter’s focus for 2021 through the recent member survey.
Also, we are happy to welcome any thoughts and outreaches via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition, we are looking for organisations, who wish to partner with us to join our webinars as speakers, share market trends and industry insights, support our community overall, drive diversity and inclusion in their companies, and advertise vacancies or find talent through our platform.
📝 Help RaizUp UK & Ireland with your feedback – take this short member survey.
👉 If you want to open a new chapter for RaizUp in your city, please fill out this questionnaire.