A Woman of Worth

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In the dynamic world of travel publishing, Laurel Herman stands as a beacon of innovation and perseverance. Fueled by her love of exploration and cultural exchange, Herman set out to embark on a transformative journey that would eventually lead her to the forefront of the travel publishing industry.

It all began in the early 1970s while in college when Herman traveled to London on a study abroad program. The months of backpacking through Europe and living in London ignited Herman’s love of travel, and it was during that special time in her life that she understood how important travel meant to her and her personal growth as a young woman.

“It was then that I knew how travel is the best form of education by learning about new cultures and meeting new people,” Herman says. “Later on, when I began to pursue my career in the travel publishing industry, I realized that I had the opportunity to accomplish some very specific goals in my life. I could continue my passion for travel and my thirst for knowledge while also sharing stories about different cultures and destinations—and using it all to share in the idea of world peace.”

After graduating from the University of Florida, Herman was accepted into Barry University’s Urban Planning master’s program. Yet realizing her true calling lay elsewhere, Herman, with courage and determination, approached her father, Hal Herman, for a job in the publishing world.

“My father was running the company, with Recommend at the forefront,” says Herman. “During that time, Recommend covered only Florida travel content. I asked him for a job but had to prove myself.”

After five years of honing her skills, Herman proved herself capable of working for the family business and returned to her father with a plan to expand Recommend from the Florida travel destinations to worldwide destinations.

“I learned from my father that to build a brand, there needed to be a need in the industry, and I knew it was possible with Recommend,” she says.

Armed with a prototype and unwavering resolve, Herman persuaded her father to venture into new territories; he gave her his blessing to move to New York City in the 1980s in order to expand the magazine’s travel coverage.

Laurel in Banff.

“It wasn’t easy,” recalls Herman. “I was 30 years old, female, and from Miami. Plenty of doors didn’t open for me, but the experience made me stronger, and I had the passion and the perseverance to keep going. I wasn’t going to be intimidated.”

The years in New York City illustrated Herman’s visionary leadership and relentless drive to propel Recommend to new heights. With a keen focus on producing quality content and meeting the evolving needs of their audience, she ensured the brand remained at the forefront of the travel publishing landscape. From 1983 to 1990, Herman grew the brand by opening an office in the city, hiring talented freelance writers and sales representatives, and slowly but surely fulfilling her dream of travel and writing.

For more than five decades, Worth International Media has been a stalwart in the travel and meeting incentive publishing arena, crafting captivating content for the global travel and tourism sector.

“Laurel is the embodiment of professionalism and a fervent champion for the travel industry,” praises Chris Austin, the Chief Sales Officer for Explora Journeys. “Across her illustrious career, she has consistently elevated the role of travel partners, placing them at the pinnacle of importance, tirelessly advocating for their indispensable value to consumers for both individual and group travel needs. Her passion for the industry is matched only by the industry’s admiration and affection for her.”

As a predominantly women-operated team with a female CEO in a predominantly male-dominated industry, Herman remains committed to fostering an environment of support and empowerment for her staff, and as a small business, Worth International has a unique opportunity to showcase the talented women who make up the Worth International family.

“The entire Worth International team is extremely talented and dedicated to their work and each other,” says Herman. “We want to give our people the space to be their most authentic selves. And as a woman who has always supported women, I truly want the women in my company to gain the respect they deserve and to be truly equal, in whatever paths they choose to take.”

Not only does Worth International believe in the transformative power of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace—the company has instituted its DEI policy in the company culture—but has recognized and harnessed the immense talent and perspective that women bring to the table.

“Worth International has always fostered an environment where women can succeed and feel comfortable, while embracing their individual identities—gender identity, sexual orientation, race, or creed—to highlight their talents and work ethic,” adds Herman. “I have always strived to encourage my team to be the best versions of themselves and encouraged them to express their ideas or concerns.”

Produced in both print and digital formats, Recommend, the company’s leisure travel brand, and Prevue, its meetings and incentives brand, are known for their distinctive designs and immersive editorial content, while maintaining a reputation as both notable and trustworthy publications. Recommend serves as a beacon for travel professionals seeking information on unforgettable experiences for their clients, and Prevue Meetings & Incentives, which Herman launched in 2009, serves meeting & incentive planners, providing experiential destination content and invaluable insights and resources. Both brands exemplify Worth International’s commitment to excellence in travel publishing.

“Laurel’s impact on the meetings and events industry is profound, reflecting a rare blend of visionary leadership and a deep understanding of this dynamic industry,” says Reina Herschdorfer, Director of Marketing, National Meetings & Events for Caesars Entertainment. “Her commitment to excellence has consistently elevated the Prevue brand. As we reflect on a decade of shared achievements, it is clear that her influence will continue to shape the future of meetings and events for years to come.”

Adds Vicki Freed, Senior Vice President, Sales and Trade Support & Service, Royal Caribbean International, “So many in our industry deserve the spotlight on International Women’s Day. Laurel Herman is a perfect example, who in her role gets to shine that spotlight on such important people and content in travel selling and the meeting & incentive business.”

Reflecting on Worth International’s vitality and resilience throughout the years, Herman is grateful that the company has navigated through turbulent times, including the aftermath of 9/11, economic downturns in the early 2000s, and the recent challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite facing adversity, Herman remained steadfast in her commitment to her team and the company’s mission.

Laurel in France.

Drawing inspiration from her parents’ guidance and her son Victor Diaz-Herman’s social initiatives, Herman remains dedicated to pushing boundaries and driving positive change within the industry. As she looks into the company’s future, she contemplates the role of artificial intelligence in shaping the world of travel publishing, emphasizing the importance of harnessing technology responsibly.

“Some things in the industry never change, such as making sure we produce quality content and engaging stories for our audiences,” says Herman. “Now we have AI and we want to make sure we properly harness it where it’s not harmful but helpful.”

Amidst her professional endeavors, Herman’s love for travel remains undiminished. From Italy and Spain to the picturesque landscapes of New Zealand, as well as U.S. destinations such as The Berkshires, Napa and Sonoma Valleys, and Florida, each destination holds a special place in her heart, reminding her of the transformative power of exploration and cultural exchange.

In Herman’s remarkable journey, there is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the transformative power of pursuing one’s passion. As she continues to break boundaries and inspire future generations, Herman stands as a shining example of what is possible when we dare to dream and persist against all odds.

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