by Michael J. Shapiro | August 14, 2018
The Global Business Travel Association has acquired WINiT for Women, a career-development network that increases visibility, mobility and development for women in the travel, meetings, events and exhibition industries. The nonprofit group, launched in 2014, brings a network of more than 3,000 women and men to the GBTA fold. Members of each organization will now benefit from access to the groups' programs and services, as well as a combined network of about 12,000 industry professionals.
The acquisition was made public yesterday at the GBTA Convention, which kicked off in San Diego with nearly 7,000 attendees. "Bringing these two organizations together was a natural evolution, one that will deliver a variety of benefits to both GBTA and WINiT members," said Christle Johnson, vice president for travel and business services for Johnson Downie LLC, and president of the GBTA board. "As a longtime WINiT supporter, I believe in its mission and the need within the industry for programs and services that support women's career development and advancement."
 
The two organizations have long been affiliated. WINiT founder and president Michelle Lee held the organization's launch event in conjunction with GBTA Convention 2014, and attracted 450 attendees from both the buyer and supplier sides. WINiT's membership base now stretches across more than 40 countries.
 
Lee started WINiT in response to the lack of female representation at senior-executive levels and in speaking engagements throughout the travel and hospitality industries, despite the employee base being about 65 percent female. "I founded WINiT to drive long-term change for women across our industries," said Lee. "As WINiT entered its fifth year, it became clear that merging with GBTA would advance our mission. Their global footprint, industry reach and shared vision were obvious points of synergy -- ones we believe will facilitate the next stage of growth."
 
WINiT's programming under GBTA will continue to be driven by longtime team members Dawn Repoli, Laura Richie and Sue Wyslick. GBTA executives will share more details this fall about the future of WINiT and upcoming programming, as well as the development of a senior-level advisory board.