Laura Mandala, CEO
Laura Mandala has been helping the tourism industry unlock, decode and harness the power of travel data and trends for nearly two decades.
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. Named one of the 14 Most Influential Women in Group Travel,
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.
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Davonne Reaves, Director of Sales & Marketing for Mandala Research has over ten years of experience in the travel and tourism industry. She specializes in travel market research, hotel asset management, and operational management, and brand development for boutique hotels. Ms. Reaves specialty is creating proven strategies to assist hotel owners in making sound financial and innovative decisions that match their goals and identify creative approaches to develop unique concepts. Prior to creating The Vonne Group, a boutique hotel consulting firm in 2017 and Mandala Research, Reaves worked with Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Blair Management Consultants, Horwath HTL and CHMWarnick where she managed portfolios totaling over $1B in assets.
Davonne is a graduate of Georgia State University.
Her professional accolades include: AH&LA Under 30 Gateway Council, Chair Emeritus; National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers (NABHOOD), Chair Women in NABHOOD; Hospitality Industry Professionals (HIP-Atlanta). President; Association of Young Real Estate Professionals, Member; National Society of Minorities in Hospitality Georgia State Chapter, Industry Advisor; Industry Board Member Cecil B. Day School of Hospitality at Georgia State University and a 2016 Hotel Management Magazine’s Top Hospitality Young Professional.
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Jessica (Jess) McLaughlin
Jessica (Jess) McLaughlin has more than 15 years of consulting experience of consulting experience in strategic planning, communications and advertising, and marketing research. Jess has broad experience in both qualitative and quantitative research. Since 2000, Jess assisted with in person interviews, data analysis and report writing for a variety of Mandala Research research studies. She particularly enjoys conducting interviews with travelers and creating presentation visuals to illustrate research findings.
She has expertise in qualitative methodologies that uncover the underlying emotional drivers behind consumer and business decision making, and is a Cambridge-trained focus group moderator. Her background includes several years at major Los Angeles advertising agencies Grey Advertising and Dailey & Associates, where she helped to refine the role of the Account Planner as the “voice of the consumer” within the agency. She also trained with the author of “Marketing to the Mind” and “Motigraphics” to learn how the hierarchy of motives applies to consumer behavior.
Ms. McLaughlin graduated with a degree in Advertising from the School of Communications at the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a four-year starter on the women’s soccer team.
As Director of Creative Communications Tara ensures our data is viewed through a lens beyond the statistics, in order to provide both a media and creative context to effectively connect with consumers. A savvy and unconventional specialist, Tara can help shape your communication strategy based on the bespoke data driven insights Mandala provides.
Tara Nolan is a New York City based business development executive and creative communications professional. With over 10 years in media and advertising, she is the former Director of Global Brand and Business Development for global creative network MullenLowe Group, and previous Director of Marketing & Communications for PHD Media Worldwide.
During her time at MullenLowe Group (2015—2017) she was responsible for global marketing, communications and business development. In 2016 her team led the global rebranding of the MullenLowe Group network following the merger of Mullen with Lowe and Partners; the merger rebranding was awarded a Cannes Lion in 2016 and led to the network being named to the AdAge 2017 Agency Standout Awards List. In her time at PHD Media Worldwide (2012—2015), she he was responsible for brand reputation management in support of U.S. business development, and the agency was named Global Media Agency of the Year 2013 by Adweek.
Tara began her career in media at WPP’s Group M and has worked across a range of categories and blue chip clients including Xerox, Richemont, Pfizer, Giorgio Armani, Swiss Re, Sagatiba liquor, and Cessna aviation. She graduated from Fairfield University with a degree in Marketing and Music, and she also holds an MBA in International Business from St. John’s University Rome where she lived for several years, learning how to cook, sail, and drink wine. Tara is the founder of The Conscious Connoisseur, a blog which aims to elevate the conversation around sustainable travel and champion the journey towards a sustainably positive present and future. Tara is a member of the Impact Travel Alliance, has been featured in mainstream publications such as mindbodygreen, and is currently writing a white paper with the Global Tourism Sustainability Council in support of the United Nations sustainable development goals.
We have worked with (among many others) the following companies and organizations:
Mandala Research recognized the need to understand the 85% of tourists who drive to their destinations. This drive market has been underserved and taken for granted for decades creating missed opportunities for myriad travel businesses and destinations. AARP was a lead sponsor of the study and based on the results was able to target specific psycho-graphic groups with discounts, promotion and marketing for their drive holidays.
The state of Oregon tourism agency partnered with the state arts council and the state historic preservation department to underwrite an extensive research study on culture and heritage in the State. Recognizing that the vast majority of visitors to Oregon were unaware of the State’s wealth of cultural assets, The research focused not only on key feeder markets outside the state, it delved deeply into perceptions of those within the state and segmented the market based on driver of destination choice. The research was used extensively in their marketing and advertising campaigns and helped Oregon to shift perception of the State.
Living Social hired Mandala Research as their primary provider of data on the 20 largest metropolitan areas in the country. A new topic was chosen monthly and a survey was sent through our panel. The knowledge gained by these surveys allowed us to rank the various markets with heat maps and key findings. Living Social was able to send out monthly press releases giving them a stellar public relations tool for both end-users and providers.