Tui Group senior mobile commercial manager Maria Bobrowska has been named Innovator of the Year at an awards ceremony designed to celebrate the achievements of women in the tourism, travel, hospitality and leisure sectors.

Bobrowska was honoured at the 2016 Shine Awards for creating and delivering a wearable wristband to streamline customers’ hotel experience.

Other winners included Rocco Forte Hotels’ Irene Forte, who created a careers and development app for hospitality employees and took home the Rising Star honour.

The Ambassador of the Year award went to Zuleika Fennell of Corbin & King who ran a survey and conference to understand the barriers to progression for her female colleagues after becoming disillusioned by the fluctuating levels of women in her organisation.

Presented by workforce development organisation People 1st in partnership with Travel Weekly‘s sister title, The Caterer, the Shine Awards are a central platform of People 1st’s Women 1st activity, which aims to help increase the number of women working in senior leadership roles across the visitor economy.

The awards ceremony, which took place in London on Monday, was attended by more than 200 industry leaders and hosted by TV and radio presenter Katie Derham.

C&M Travel Recruitment and were both shortlisted for the Best Place for Women to Work award on the evening, but the award went to Unilever Food Solutions.

Simon Tarr, chief executive of People 1st, said: “The Shine Awards is always an incredibly inspiring evening, and this one was no different. Congratulations to all of the winners – their hard work and dedication is making a huge impact across our industries; from creating aspirational role models to helping create more balanced and productive teams.

“The importance of this work cannot be underestimated – the number of women in managerial positions across tourism businesses has fallen by 24,000 in the past five years. Retaining and developing women is critical to making sure our industries continue to grow and thrive, so thank you to everyone who attended tonight for helping support this cause.”

Mark Lewis, publisher of The Caterer, added: “Tonight’s award winners demonstrate the amazing heights that women can achieve in our industries. It’s so important for us to come together as an industry and celebrate best practice – I hope attendees will have gone away with some new ideas about how they can support women in their business.

The 2016 Shine Awards was sponsored by Fraser Giles Partnership, Unilever Food Solutions, Gail Kenny Executive Recruitment, Troika Recruitment and Brakes.

The full list of winners is as follows:

  • Rising Star (sponsored by Fraser Giles Partnership) – Irene Forte, Rocco Forte Hotels
  • Innovator of the Year (sponsored by Brakes) – Maria Bobrowska, TUI Group
  • Ambassador of the Year (sponsored by The Caterer) – Zuleika Fennell, Corbin & King 
  • Best Initiative to Retain and Develop Women (sponsored by Unilever Food Solutions) – Project Amazon, Premier Inn (New Openings)
  • Mentor of the Year (sponsored by People 1st) – Gareth Billington – Everton Football Club, Sodexo
  • Best Place for Women to Work (sponsored by Gail Kenny Executive Recruitment) – Unilever Food Solutions
  • Woman of the Year (sponsored by Gail Kenny Executive Recruitment) – Chantelle Nicholson, Marcus Wareing Restaurants
  • The Robyn Jones Lifetime Achievement Award (sponsored by Troika Recruitment) – Prue Leith