Meet Carolyn Pearson- the founder of Maiden-Voyage!

Carolyn Pearson is the founder of the social network for female business travellers.  Women can connect up with like-minded women when travelling as an alternative to dining-solo.  The site also recommends female-friendly hotels and travel safety advice.  Register for free at like them on facebook, follow them on twitter or join the linkedin group.

When not working on Carolyn is also a freelance travel writer for Global Living Magazine and spends her spare time hiking, sailing, horse riding and learning French and German.

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My Interview with Carolyn Pearson:

What gave you the idea to start a social network for women business travelers? Could you briefly describe your job and what you did before?

I was in LA on a business by myself and tagged on a weekend to go out and explore a little, see the sights and pick up a few items for my wardrobe.  In reality however, being in such a vibrant city alone means that you miss out on so many experiences such as dining out and checking out the nightlife.  I decided there and then that I would create a global network for female business travellers so that we don’t have to dine alone in a restaurant or miss out on the fun by staying in and eating room service.  I called it because I wanted to depict something that meant “women and travel”

Before going full-time on I’d enjoyed a fabulous career as an IT leader for well-known brands such as ITV, BBC, KLM, Sony Music and easyJet.  The great thing about IT is that every company needs it so it affords you great opportunities.  I was lucky to get to live, work and travel internationally, travel is one of my greatest passions.  I specialised in the travel and media sectors both culturally similar, fun, vibrant environments with sparky people who tend not to take themselves too seriously.

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When business women are traveling what are they looking for in a good hotel? What are their preferences as well their dislikes?

Three things, – safety,  comfort and cleanliness.   A good location is essential, not only in a well-lit, safe area but one that is easily accessible,  centrally located and ideally close to shops, restaurants and public transport.  Double-locking doors are a must, peace of mind and a good night’s sleep is essential for us to perform at our best the next day.  We use our senses much more than men do and a poorly cleaned room, bad lighting, stale smells and charging for wifi won’t wash.  Thinking about the best of our female friendly hotels, it’s a combination of good quality linen, fluffy towels, good quality toiletries, inventive and light dining options, a spa where you can get a manicure later in the evening or early morning, removable coat hangers, salon quality hairdryers and handy sockets next to mirrors  that make us feel at home.  Service goes a long way too, we don’t want our room numbers announcing to the other guests and a quick, friendly attentive service in the restaurant will put us at ease when we are dining alone.  Here’s our pick of the best in female friendly hotels:

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What challenges have you faced in business and how did you overcome them? What would be your advice to pass on to other female entrepreneurs?

Learning to sell was the biggest obstacle I had to overcome.  I would do anything rather than pick up the telephone, even a pile of ironing.  I had so many avoidance tactics  and I was always looking for somebody to offload this to.  Without sales you don’t have a business.  The difficulty can arise when you have created something from scratch, it is an extension of you so it can be difficult to see why anybody else would value it.  When somebody rejects your product or service it feels like they are rejecting you personally.

There was a ‘perfect storm’ when I left corporate life, I had to sell to sustain the business, I read Lara Morgan’s book “More Balls than Most” and semi-stalked her to become my mentor. I’ve since done lots of training courses, read more books and watched and learned from other brilliant and natural sales people including Lara. My whole attitude to sales has now changed, I’m a little bit addicted and I’m now in the right  mental place to bring on extra sales people.  You can’t expect or teach people to sell your product or service if you haven’t learned how to do it yourself.

Could you describe your most memorable moment in business?

Being invited onto CNN to talk about maiden-voyage was awesome, the next day we had ladies signing up from all around the world.

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What future projects do you have in the pipeline you can share?

World domination!  We are starting to grow a team of international ambassadors, travel savvy women who write city guides for our members, by women for women.  They recommend their little black books of favourite restaurants, bars, clubs, spa’s and hairdressers and are also on hand to answer specific questions about culture, customs, safety and getting around.   We hope to have 100 ambassadors by the end of the year.

We are expanding our recommended female friendly hotels, particularly across the USA and Asia and women can help us to do that by inspecting their hotels for us when they travel.  Members of are invited to be ‘undercover inspectors’.

We are also rolling out to large multi-national corporates. There are so many women from large organisations travelling around that would benefit from inter and intra company and industry connecting with like-minded women.  It’s a small step a company can take to share the site with their women travellers, besides the certified hotels, networking and team of ambassadors we also provide travel safety tips and share relevant travel news via twitter.

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What is your power dressing What are your favourite colours to wear in a dress and why?

I have a petite but curvy frame so single coloured fitted dresses with a lower neckline suit me the best. Red  is a firm favourite followed by black and deep blues all of which suit my complexion.  I don’t like fussy jewellery so just a nice watch and simple earrings and heels leave me to do the talking.

Tell us something what people don’t know about you?

I once did stand-up comedy and wasn’t scared! I did a weekend comedy course in London and then we had to perform live in a comedy club the next day.  It was a real high, we had to learn the technique, write the material and deliver it all within 3 days.  I’d love the opportunity to do more.

Thank you Carolyn for your time!

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