Bianca Porto Barga, Stefania Picheca, Andrea Aguilar and Tiffany Gupta are the new chapter leaders of RaizUp USA. Get to know her better in the following blog interview, learn more about the chapter plans and how to get involved with their work.
What was your first travel job and what did it teach you?
Bianca: I started in reservations at a boutique hotel in Rio. I had a really tough leader who taught me so much about accountability, attention to details and focus on results.
Andrea: I was a tour guide for study abroad students in Italy. What didn’t it teach me! My goodness, that job was 24/7. I think the biggest thing I learned was adaptability. You have to just rol with life and with the people you’re with. Nothing ever goes to plan.
Tiffany: I started working with Hyatt Hotels as an admin for the revenue management team. I had no experience in revenue management and honestly barely knew what it was, but I had some fearless boss babes showing me the ropes. They were incredibly kind, talented, patient, and most of all believed in me and allowed me to grow and flourish under their wings. I’m grateful for all that they taught me both personally and professionally. I try to teach young women and give them opportunities the same as they did for me.
Stefania: I joined the Best Western Reservations call centre in Milan. I responded to French speaking callers, mostly, and booked hotels all over the world. The funniest/challenging request I answered to was for a hotel in Venice with car parking. I learned that people in hospitality are so much fun! I was young, and the after-hours was the best part of the job!
Which company in hospitality / travel tech you admire and why?
Bianca: I love Aman hotels. I think they have incredible marketing strategy. They know how to attract the right public and are not mainstream. They are the ultimate luxury brand for me.
Andrea: The Greenhouse by Joost Bakker in Melbourne Australia. It’s technically more of a home but with a hospitality twist. And I’m totally inspired.
Stefania: Saira Hospitality is a great inspiration for me. Saira’s mission is to “partner with hotels to create bespoke education programs that provide local communities with the foundations for a career in hospitality.” It taught me to look at sustainability from many different perspectives, beyond the environment. It speaks of equity, in the way it creates opportunities for the best people for the job (the local community) who would often not have access to it.
What’s one book/movie every tourism professional should watch/read and why?
Bianca: Although there is no book that I know of yet, I recommend every hospitality professional to read on Ian Schrager’s life and work. He was the creator of the boutique hospitality and is still so relevant in the industry.
Andrea: “Kiss the ground! We need to regenerate!” – Not just our industry, but also our land and our people.
Tiffany: This is not specific to tourism, but a very impactful book early on for me was Conscious Capitalism by John Mackey and Rajenda Sisodia. It talks about creating purpose driven companies that value their stakeholders and being environmentally mindful with your business decisions. A purpose driven company is a personal value of mine. When we have so many choices in brands, chains, and companies I would rather do business with one that aligns with my personal values and can balance being a good impact on the world, humans, and the environment as well as profitable.
Stefania: Emotional Equation.
Why did you become a RaizUP USA chapter leader?
Bianca: I followed the webinars and feel compelled to spread the knowledge to my community.
Andrea: Because my personal WHY is to inpsire and empower others and this seemed like a great way to do that.
Tiffany: I have been following the work of WHTT for some time and have been eager to bring the new RaizUP to the USA to continue the efforts & bring the mission to life near me. It’s our job, as women leaders, to continue to bring other women and future generations one step closer to equality and equity in the workspace and this is one small step I can help in doing so.
Stefania: It’s the authenticity of the mission that invited me to follow RaizUP. It walks the talk. It is driven by the purpose to lift others up, which meets my own purpose.
What are the current hospitality and travel tech challenges? How do you plan to address them?
Bianca: I feel there is very little known about certain technologies and trainings are seek out by specific professionals. For example: why don’t we have e-commerce training for DORMS? Or Revenue training for DOSM? Why don’t we teach our industry about solutions that are available out there?
Andrea: Companies find training boring and not enough money goes into that department to be honest. This is something companies like Typsy are trying to address by making it easily accessible and measurable.
Tiffany: One of the biggest challenges I faced in transitioning from solely hospitality to travel tech industry is how archaic hospitality companies still tend to be. And cross functional training opportunities for both sides of the industry. Those in travel tech who have never been on the service side need to understand the day to day operations and empathy for those servicing guests. And similarly the hospitality industry needs to understand how to pivot, innovate and learn to use technology in a more effective way. I would love to see some mentor programs that teach project management skills from the tech side partnered with a hospitality company that can teach about empathy. Similarly, offering tech specific classes (ex: deeper excel skills, business analytics programs, etc) to hospitality teams.
Stefania: We might be the best people to perform a task, but when challenging guests or difficult conversations come our way, how can we lean into our emotional regulation more effectively? I believe we can prepare the new and existing generations by investing in their emotional well-being. That means equipping them with tools to face adversity and change, while protecting their mental and physical health. I want more people to join, enjoy, stay and advocate for our wonderful industry. The post-pandemic will hopefully be an opportunity to challenge the way “we always did it”, and think creatively about how we can promote People Sustainability.
What are your chapter plans for 2021?
Bianca: Gather more members to the platform, come up with relevant content that will help colleagues come back to the workplace or to be placed at a new role.
Andrea: To help others connect.
Tiffany: First, we need to build engagement and membership. Discovery the needs for this group that will lure participants. Offer a variety of participation opportunities. And help people reach their personal goals.
Stefania: To connect and learn from each other. To have real conversations about what is possible, what needs changing, and how to get there. Let’s start from bringing more people to the chapter!
How can members get involved with RaizUp USA?
Bianca: I believe relevant content through webinars, CH rooms, blog posts will incentivize people join.
Andrea: Through our events, we will have a host of different things available to help people get involved.
Tiffany: Participate. Engage. Share Feedback. Invite others. Don’t keep us a secret!
Stefania: By sharing what they would find relevant and useful in this platform. This way we can create and share content that reflect what is most needed.