Laura Mandala has been helping the tourism industry unlock, decode and harness the power of travel data and trends for nearly two decades. As the head of Mandala Research, one of the leading travel and tourism research firms in the world, she spends considerable time evaluating important emerging developments and that help destinations and travel companies make the right decisions to attract the right travelers.
Appointed by the U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary to serve on the Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, Laura was responsible for providing input on the country’s National Travel and Tourism Strategy. Mandala has worked extensively with the U.S. Department of Commerce, and has conducted national studies for resorts, hotels, shopping malls, and destinations, as well as multi-country brand equity and consumer tracking studies in over 25 international markets.
Her career includes tenure at the U.S. Travel Association where she served as Vice President of Research. Mandala also worked over a span of 15 years as a consultant with Marriott International, where she gained extensive expertise in brand tracking, brand equity, and brand identity research, as well as global product and service preferences, portfolio analysis, loyalty program membership, suite design and decor, and website usability.
Mandala’s firm has pioneered the “firsts” of many niche studies in the industry and offers extensive knowledge of several growing demographics and trends, including U.S. Hispanic travelers, wine and culinary tourism, Gay and Lesbian travelers, The International Shopping Traveler, Travelers from Growth and Emerging Markets, and the African American Traveler. In 2014 she was named one of the 14 Most Influential Women in Group Travel.
Based in Alexandria, Va., Mandala speaks regularly at tourism industry conferences, including the UNWTO World Forum on Food Tourism, and is a trusted and popular resource for journalists. Her work has been cited in The New York Times, Forbes, Wall Street Journal MarketWatch, USA Today, and others. Mandala has also held a number of teaching appointments including an adjunct professorship at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University, the George Washington School of Tourism and Hospitality Management, as well as a stint at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration.
She is founder of Women in Travel and Tourism International, an organization committed to the promotion, support, and advocacy for women’s leadership in the travel industry. Laura is a former candidate for State Delegate in Virginia’s 45th District and has served two Virginia Governor’s on the State Council on Women.
Mandala received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in sociology from DePaul University and is receiving her PhD from Northwestern University.