Welcome to the premier travel industry awards for women! Nominations are now open for the 4th annual Bessie Awards, hosted by Wanderful and the WITS Travel Creator + Brand Summit. While anyone is welcome to submit a nomination, official votes for the finalists can only be cast by WITS attendees, past and present.
The Bessie Awards are presented at the annual WITS travel conference for brands and creators in North America. The 3rd Annual Bessie Awards were held on 23 April 2021 at WITS Online!
If you missed the ceremony, you can still find out who won a 2021 Bessie Award in each category below. Get all the details for the next WITS conference and grab your ticket to join the Bessie Awards ceremony.
What are the Bessie Awards?
The Bessie Awards honor women of impact in travel, particularly influencers, creative entrepreneurs, marketers, and industry members who have added a compelling voice to the industry.
The Bessies are named after Bessie Coleman, the first woman of African American and Native American descent to hold a pilot’s license.
Invoking the spirit of Ms. Coleman, these travel industry awards honor the truly creative work of some of the incredible thought leaders and innovators in travel.
Wanderful hopes that, by showcasing such work, we can inspire more builders in the travel space to contribute their voices.
We aim to make the travel industry ever more thoughtful, inclusive, and meaningful.
The Bessie Awards value the contributions of diverse women and nonbinary people of all ages and backgrounds who represent us as a community of travelers.
In celebration of the impact of the travel industry and the many women who are changing the industry for the better, these awards highlight the diverse changemakers.
Travel Industry Awards for Women
These travel industry awards celebrate women of impact. Women are not a niche in the travel industry, rather, they are the decision-makers and purchasers.
From our global Wanderful community, we launched WITS on two continents to further our mission of helping more women travel. Wanderful believes in the power of sisterhood, and the powerful women of WITS are a perfect demonstration of that effect.
The creators and brands who come together at WITS are challenging the status quo.
Despite the enormous influence women have as consumers in the travel industry, their influence on the business itself has still not found parity. Just take a look at these statistics:
- Women make 80% of travel decisions
- 2 out of 3 travelers are women
- The number of women-only travel companies has increased by 230% in the past 6 years
Meanwhile, the digital revolution continues to rise:
- Influencer marketing is 11x more powerful than traditional advertising.
- 84% of customers have made a purchase after reading about a product or service on a blog.
- In the 18-34 age range, blogs are the #1 decision-making factor influencing purchases.
Wanderful created the WITS travel conference to bring creators together with industry players and open up a conversation about making travel more meaningful and inclusive.
At WITS, attendees and sponsors collaborate to better use our platforms and expand some of these values, growing our businesses and supporting more women who are building their own businesses.
Now planning its 9th year, WITS North America hosts an annual event to honor and celebrate women who are truly making an impact.
The Bessie Awards for travel industry professionals, bloggers, influencers, and others in this space ensure that diversity is celebrated and further encouraged year after year.
Friends in the travel industry: Get free access to our industry resource library
Categories of Bessie Awards for Travel Professionals
Awards in travel can include a wide range of categories of work within the travel sector. The Bessie Awards are not just travel writing awards, nor are they focused solely on multi-national industry heavyweights and corporations.
Rather, these travel awards celebrate individuals and organizations that are changing the industry in a positive way. From writing to collaborations, from inventive creations to trailblazing ferocity, the Bessies reward those who dare to challenge and change the current system.
Here are the travel award categories for the Bessie Awards and the 2021 Bessie Awards winners. Nominations are now open for the 2022 Bessie Awards!
Collaboration of the Year
In support of working together, this award celebrates a successful collaboration by or between creators and brands to amplify traditionally marginalized voices and accomplish shared goals.
2021 Winner: #CityWillWait initiative started by Visit Gdansk
2020 Winner: Intrepid Travel #BeIntrepid
2019 Winner: Fat Camp (Annette Richmond)
Creator of the Year
Honoring a creator who has gone above and beyond in the past year to challenge the status quo as a thought leader in the industry.
2021 Winner: Glo Atanmo
2020 Winner: Evita Robinson
2019 Winner: Oneika Raymond (Oneika the Traveller)
For a brand that has shown outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion in the last year, whether in the form of a campaign, piece of content, partnership, or other initiative.
2021 Winner: Black Travel Alliance
2020 Winner: AUDACITY Fest (NOMADNESS Travel Tribe)
2019 Winner: Black History Month Rides with Lyft (Jessica Hansen)
Most Impactful Piece of Writing
This award showcases an inspiring, engaging, and community-oriented piece of writing that has encouraged dialogue and interaction in the last year.
Social Impact Award
For an activity, campaign, or other initiative by an individual or brand that has shown innovation in ways that have positively impacted the travel community, or has developed their marketing in a sustainable and impactful way.
2021 Winner: Local Purse
2019 Winner: Impact Travel Alliance (Kelley Louise)
Travel Startup of the Year
For an engaging, innovative and impactful startup that we as a community of influencers believe is changing the way we travel.
2021 Winner: AdventureTripr
2020 Winner: Tastemakers Africa (Cherae Robinson)
2019 Winner: Wanderstay Houston (Deidre Mathis)
Wanderful Award presented by Wanderful
For a brand that has gone above and beyond to support, empower, and represent women in the past year.
2021 Winner: Femmebnb
2020 Winner: The Riveter
2019 Winner: The Globetrotter Lounge Podcast (Lisette Austin)
For the go-getter who has thrived in the past year in building her own empire and carving out a path for future leaders in the travel space.
2021 Winner: Gabby Beckford
2020 Winner: Martinique Lewis
Journeywoman Award (formerly the Lifetime Achievement Award)
For a person who has demonstrated a long-term commitment to working in and making the travel industry better.
2021 Winner: Alessandra Alonso
2020 Winner: Betty Reid Soskin
Read our announcement about the new JourneyWoman Award
2019 Ethical Travel Award presented by Lokal: Jessica Festa (Epicure and Culture)
2019 Influencer Campaign of the Year Award: Hostelling International – Sleep for Peace
2019 Outstanding Work of 2018 presented by the Quebec Tourism Bureau: Keeping It Local – Appreciating The Food Scene in Quebec (Empty Nesters Hit the Road, Wendy Lee)
Submit your nominations for the 2022 Bessie Awards!
Learn More About Bessie Coleman
The Bessie Awards are named after the iconic Bessie Coleman. Bessie was denied entry into the American aviation schools because of both her race and gender. Despite this, in 1921, she became the first American to earn an international pilot’s license from the prestigious Federation Aeronautique International in France.
Bessie Coleman defied the odds, earning this license two years before her more famous contemporary, Amelia Earhart. Wanderful and the Women in Travel Summit honor her legacy and encourage all women to defy the odds.
Learn more about Bessie Coleman’s extraordinary life and professional achievements right here.
Learn More About WITS
The WITS Travel Creator + Brand Summit is the premier event for travel’s top marketing talent. Creative entrepreneurs, influencers, DMOs, and industry come together to discuss future innovations, build dynamic collaborations, and change travel worldwide, all while supporting and empowering a diverse community of women.
Read about the inaugural WITS Europe experience to learn more from an attendee’s perspective and check out what it’s like being surrounded by women who love travel:
Learn more about these specific travel marketing awards and plentiful professional growth opportunities at WITS.
Looking for travel inspiration? Wanderful is a global community for travel-loving women. Connect with us!