Travel Weekly Group editor-in-chief Lucy Huxley was presented with the Honorary Award for her "commitment and contribution to the travel industry" by the Association of Women Travel Executives last night.
Huxley was chosen from a strong shortlist which included Advantage Travel Centres managing director Julia Lo Bue-Said, Barbados Tourist Authority UK director Petra Roach, Elegant Hotels UK sales director Glynnis Jeffrey and Holiday Extras national partnerships manager Lindsay Garvey-Jones.
Huxley was also shortlisted for the Business Impact Award, which was won by Jane Stuart-Palikira from Ionian Weddings, and Travel Weekly was shortlisted for the Company Award, recognising those companies which support the development of women, which was won by Advantage Travel Centres.
The AWTE Chair's Awards were presented by AWTE chair Barbro McAusland and by guest speaker, Thomson Airways managing director Chris Browne.
McAusland said Huxley's career as a journalist, editor, conference moderator and event presenter, and the respect and high-profile she had earned across all sectors of the travel industry had made her the clear winner.
She said Huxley's success in her career while juggling the demands of a young family at the same time were an inspiration to other young women.
Huxley said: "I was shocked and extremely proud to receive the Honorary Award in recognition of my commitment to the travel industry. I have been reporting on this sector for the travel trade press for 16 years and am indeed passionate about it and the brilliant people who work in it.
“It is a true honour to accept this award and I would like to thank all those who nominated and voted for me, and all those people I have had the pleasure of working with - and interviewing - over the years."
In her after-dinner speech, Browne talked about the importance of working as a team and recruiting "leaders not just managers".
"I don't want any high maintenance people at all, just people who are comfortable and confident in their own skin."
She said in her business, "hierarchy is out and customer service must prevail. It's a huge people-focused business that just happens to be an airline."
She added: "There is no future in in-fighting. You have to invest a lot of time in becoming a team."
Browne said her decision to join First Choice and not Thomas Cook some years ago was her "first lesson in people versus brand".
"First Choice allowed people to be themselves and made having fun not just necessary but absolutely essential. And we always delivered the results."
She added: "Always do your homework before you move jobs and never let your heart rule your head."
Commenting on her own career and style, Browne admitted: "To say I challenge the status quo would be an understatement. I never went down without a fight if I believed something was right."
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