Elizabeth Lugo Monjarras is Directora Ejecutiva de Operaciones for Grupo Experiencias Xcaret in Quintana Roo, Mexico.


Thoughts on Women in the Industry

What is the most pressing issue facing women in the workplace today, and how can the attractions industry influence positive change?

The world has changed enormously in the last decade, allowing women to take important roles in the industry. Nevertheless, women are still playing many roles at the same time: good mothers, housekeepers, great wives, and professionals with careers in progress. All of that makes an impact in pressure, but the industry is opening spaces to communicate and develop different strategies to work ourselves around and keep everything moving at the right pace.

Having a strategic mind and focusing on results is a never-ending challenge for women in this industry. But at the same time, that is what keeps us moving, rolling and looking for more opportunities to show our value to the industry, to develop new careers, and to keep contributing to making a sustainable world.
How have you seen the industry evolve in regard to gender roles?

The iconic figures of only men working in the industry is far behind. Everyone has understood the meaning behind the SWOT work that women have brought to any discussion, providing different perspectives and enriching/strengthening the discussion on different topics, evolving to a new conception of the industry, being empathic with the objectives that women pursue on a different perspective, seeking to participate more and more with different challenges.

How have you built your network of women in the industry?

I have been very fortunate to collaborate more than 20 years in a  company that truly believes in women and provides opportunities to prepared, willing, and creative people in the industry. The executive team in Experiencias Xcaret is 70 percent women working together in innovation and ideas to develop unique moments for visitors. We have also bonded with key women making changes in the worldwide industry to learn from their successes and failures in order to achieve better knowledge of the industry and its ongoing requirements.  

What is one piece of advice you’d like to convey to women starting their attractions careers?

Keep yourself open to people. Listen to every piece of advice. Prepare: read, listen, learn.

Creating Careers of Distinction

How do you invest in yourself as a leader?

I read a lot about new technology, new administration techniques, and business models. But overall, I listen to what people have to say. The people who surround us usually come up with the best ideas and proposals, that can transform into strategic steps to provide new visions and goals.
What is your most cherished work principle?
People and quality. You can build the most wonderful place, but it takes people to make it come true. People deliver service, warmth, and wellness to visitors. It is only through our coworkers that we can reach our goals of entertainment and leisure, getting families together in a safe and fun environment. Building a collaborative system will lead us to the best results.
What do you consider your most significant career accomplishment?
Overcoming a major organizational restructuring in operations. It implied the fusion of very different cultures and teams working together in matrix organization. The results have been much more positive than our original estimation, but it took hard work, patience, dialogue, open minds and identifying the common objectives that led us to overcome any obstacle.

What has had the greatest impact on your career?
Facing rough times: Category 5 hurricanes, sanitary contingency (AH1N1), etc. All of them made us aware of the need to be prepared, to work on our protocols of emergency, to build better and stronger buildings, to train our people to face emergencies and to invest on equipment and preparation. The impact we had in Hurricane Wilma was rough in the destination (Cancun), nevertheless it made us stronger and we are now much more ready to face this kind of incidents.
What has been the greatest challenge of your career?
The present time. I am responsible for leading a team of almost 3,000 people working together on service, innovation and sustainability, while delivering economic results, and opening new parks. It is challenging and gratifying, but at the same time it drives me to keep on preparing myself and teach the new generations what the industry needs.
What was the greatest piece of career advice you ever received?
There is never a second change to make a great first impression. We need to work hard everyday in order to make sure, each time, every person, whether it is a visitor, a co-worker, a supplier, a person from the community or anyone else, we need to make sure we make a first great impression on him/her, and then, make sure we carry it on.

The Future of the Industry

Why did you join and choose to stay in the attractions business?

It almost started as an accident, when the CEO of the company asked me to do a retail model for one of the parks (Xel-Há). I had never worked for the industry before, but I was able to see and feel all of the smiles and the guests’ happiness and satisfaction that we were able to create, that it made me fall in love with the industry. It has been more than 20 years now, and every day I am still lucky enough to produce more and more smiles and happiness. That, for sure, makes me feel complete and happy; it makes me feel that we are contributing in making a difference in this world.  

What makes you most passionate about the industry?
Innovation! It is everywhere—whether it is technology, marketing, operations, human resources, entertainment, sustainability, and so on. This industry is delivering innovating ideas every day, and it makes me curious and enthusiastic to look for innovative ideas to move us forward.

What is your vision for the industry in the next 20 years?
Technology, innovation, sustainability, and collaboration are four words we must keep in mind for a changing vision in the industry. New generations will be searching for different ways to approach people and deliver service.

​​Know a professional we should talk to? E-mail Prasana William, IAAPA manager, digital content and strategy.



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