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How the Female Hospitality Network is connecting women in the sector and inspiring them to dream big – featuring Abbie Hart

The Female Hospitality Network (FHN) is a growing international online personal and professional development membership network.

A platform for women working in hospitality, travel, events and tourism

Abbie Hart is the founder of the Female Hospitality Network and joined the hospitality industry in her teens as a pot washer and worked her way through university in bars and restaurants. After graduating, a chance phone call led to Abbie becoming a hospitality recruiter, eventually setting up her own agency.

In 2018, Abbie founded the Female Hospitality Network, a development platform for women working in hospitality, travel, events and tourism.

Connecting and inspiring women in hospitality

The Female Hospitality Network is about empowering passionate thinkers and innovators, connecting females across the sectors and creating an inclusive culture.

Members can develop the skills necessary for them to achieve more in their personal and professional lives.  Membership is about being inspired and then sharing that inspiration with future generations of hospitality women.

Personal and professional development

We started by asking Abbie what prompted her to create the Female Hospitality Network.

FHN is a place for career professionals, hospitality & event entrepreneurs, agencies and freelancers, hospitality and event graduates, or veterans within the industries. Our vision is career fulfilment for all women in the sector.

FNH’s main objectives are to offer a platform for personal and professional development. By being around like-minded professionals, our members gain experiences and knowledge that benefit them both personally, and professionally within their organisations.

From Manchester to New York

Whilst FHN initially launched in Manchester, there was substantial interest across the UK. Women in hospitality wanted to be part of something that allowed them to share experiences and attend events that addressed topics of interest to them.

This led to interest from as far and wide as the USA.  Abbie continued,

I have business connections in New York, and I thought, ‘why not put something out there about FHN and see if we can start a group’?  We set up the chapter in New York and, despite COVID-19, have been able to host online events that let us offer support to members anywhere in the world.

Everybody has something within their jobs or personal life that they want to work on and being able to access advice and expertise is a crucial part of membership, helping our members and Ambassadors feel part of the wider women in hospitality global community.

An investment in self that employers can support

Being a member of the FNH is an investment in personal growth and employers are recognising the benefits to their people. By covering the cost of an individual’s membership, employers are gaining access to a network of highly skilled hospitality professionals and the expertise they bring to the sector.

Providing mentorship across all levels within hospitality

One of the key benefits to members of the FHN is mentorship and wellbeing.  Abbie explained,

I think mentorship is essential for women to help them develop within hospitality. Mentorship is about having people around you, whether it is that one person or a group of women, that have either experiencing situations that you’re going through or might be at a similar stage in their careers and want to share their learning.

One of the great things about the life coaching that we do is that there are solutions out there to be able to help women in the industry. People often make continuous comparisons of themselves to others which can have a real negative impact on wellbeing and through the Network we want to reinforce that it’s ok to want to work on yourself and your own wellbeing and mental health.

Pivoting to support members during COVID-19

COVID-19 has impacted FHN.  Our model has changed quite substantially because we were delivering live events throughout the network and every single one has stopped. This forced us to think about what else could we do to continue to provide support and networking opportunities.

Live interaction is fundamental to the Female Hospitality Network and until we can host our events again the Network is constantly developing, offering free sessions online and doing everything we can to listen and respond to what members feel they need at a very unsettling time.

Don’t be afraid of Imposter Syndrome – you are good enough

Finally, we asked Abbie what her advice for women in hospitality would be.

We’re living with the threat of redundancies and a very uncertain future, so we’re providing advice and guidance online for women who are looking for another job. We want them to have access to members who can help them in their job search, with developing new skills and just being there for support. It may take longer to find a new role because of the pandemic and the Female Hospitality Network is here for women whilst we go through Covid-19 together.

​I’d like to finish by saying ‘you are good enough’.  Have confidence in yourself and your skills. Yes, there will always be someone who can do things better, but our members are here with the support, knowledge and mentorship that they want to share with other women working in hospitality.

Watch our interview with Abbie Hart