We hosted our inaugural Bessie Awards on May 6th as the closing ceremony of its sixth-annual Women in Travel Summit (WITS). Taking place in Portland, Maine’s Holiday Inn-By the Bay, the Bessie Awards honor women of impact in the travel space. Named after Bessie Coleman, the first woman of African-American descent to hold a pilot’s license, the Bessies highlight the contributions of influencers, creative entrepreneurs, marketers, and industry members who have added a compelling voice to the travel industry.
The evening kicked off with a red carpet entrance while champagne was served to all guests to celebrate the successes of all women in the travel industry.
Honorees were awarded in the following categories: Creator of the Year, Collaboration of the Year, Ethical Travel Award, Most Impactful Piece of Writing, Outstanding Work of 2018, Inclusion Award, Influencer Campaign of the Year, Social Impact Award, Travel Startup of the Year, and the Wanderful Award.
This year’s winners include:
- Creator of the Year – Oneika Raymond of Oneika the Traveller
- Collaboration of the Year – Fat Camp
- Ethical Travel Award – Jessica Festa of Epicure and Culture
- Most Impactful Piece of Writing – The color of adventure: When will travel show more diversity? by Lola Akinmade Åkerström
- Outstanding Work of 2018 – Keeping It Local: Appreciating The Food Scene in Quebec by Empty Nesters Hit the Road
- Inclusion Award – Black History Month Rides with Lyft
- Influencer Campaign of the Year – Hostelling International’s Sleep for Peace
- Social Impact Award – Impact Travel Alliance
- Travel Startup of the Year – Wanderstay Houston
- Wanderful Award – The Globetrotter Lounge Podcast by Lisette Austin
It was an incredible evening showcasing women’s leadership, entrepreneurship, and game-changing moves in an ever-evolving industry.
“Women make 80% of travel purchasing decisions and two out of every three travelers are female. We have dominated the travel industry for years, but are often still considered a small sub-segment of the industry,” said Beth Santos, Founder and CEO of Wanderful. “We created the Bessies to honor the work of some of the strongest women’s voices in travel and are proud to have an absolutely astounding group of women being honored this year. It truly sets the bar for years to come!”
Read next: Learn more about the Bessie Awards