After several years as an
executive with Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Nina Kleaveland ventured out on
her own in 2020 to launch Lanyard, a platform to help employers find and manage
workforce housing. But in the process of building her startup, Kleaveland found
something was missing.
“I wanted a community – and I
wanted resources and contacts and recommendations to make this journey just a
little bit easier,” she said.
“I went out to my network
looking for that and when I didn’t find it I thought, I’ll just start it myself,
because if I have that need, others do too.”
That idea became Female Founders
in Hospitality, an organization that brings together women building companies
in the travel and hospitality industry to learn from one another and accelerate
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Since its launch in the summer
of 2022, more than 100 women have now joined the community.
In November at The Phocuswright Conference,
Female Founders in Hospitality hosted its first in-person events – a roundtable
discussion and a luncheon – to bring together female founders attending the
conference and to raise awareness of the organization.
Later Kleaveland and Melissa
Maher, a former executive at Expedia Group who now runs her own consulting
service and is a member of Female Founders in Hospitality, talked about the
purpose and structure of the group in the PhocusWire studio.
“Everything is founder led,”
Kleaveland said. “They are talking about things
directly relevant to them and often directly relevant to other members of the
And they explained how women who are interested in joining the group can apply to become a member.
Watch the full discussion below.
The Phocuswright Conference 2023 Executive Interview: Female Founders in Hospitality