lauraphotoLaura Mandala

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, 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 Obama Administration to serve on the U.S. Department of Commerce Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, Laura was responsible for providing input on the country’s National Travel and Tourism Strategy. Mandala has worked regularly 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.

Mandala’s firm has pioneered the “firsts” of many niche studies in the travel industry and offers extensive knowledge of several growing demographics and trends, including African American Travel, U.S. Hispanic travelers, the LGBTQ market, and inbound international travelers to the U.S. She was named one of the 14 Most Influential Women in Group Travel and was awarded in 2019 the prestigious APEX Award by Black Meetings and Tourism for the industry’s first study to assess the value of African American travelers.

Her career includes tenure at the U.S. Travel Association where as Vice President of Research she increased member engagement and expanded the diversity of research services. It was under her leadership that U.S. Travel Association became the first national association to document the value and importance of the LGBTQ market. As consultant with Marriott International over a decade, she worked across the company’s portfolio helping to develop a standardized global research program for evaluating each brand and its competitors in every market they operated. From room decor to brand loyalty, Mandala’s scope of work at Marriott included understanding every aspect of the guest experience.

Based in Alexandria, Va., Mandala speaks regularly at tourism industry conferences and is a trusted and popular resource for journalists. Her work has been cited by major news outlets such as The New York Times, Forbes, Wall Street Journal MarketWatch, CNN and many others. Mandala has also held a number of teaching appointments including an adjunct professorship in the McDonough School of Business MBA program and the George Washington School of Tourism and Hospitality Management, and as served as lecturer at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. She sits on the Board of Sustainable Travel International, serves on the Advocacy Committee of the Travel and Tourism Research Association, and is Vice President of Safer Country, a gun safety advocacy group. Laura is also founder of Women in Travel and Tourism International, an organization committed to increasing the number of women in the industry’s most senior leadership roles. She was appointed by both Governor’s Mark Warner and Tim Kaine to serve on the Virginia State Council on Women, an organization she worked to save fromcelimination by state budget reductions, and was chosen to serve on the Biden-Harris Advisory Committee on Women for the 2020 campaign. Laura served on the Alexandria Commission for Women for 13 years, two as it’s Chair. She is also a former candidate for State Delegate in Virginia where she has resided for 25 years. Mandala is completing her doctoral work at Northwestern University.

Email  Laura Mandala 


Jess_image_copyJessica (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.

Tara Nolan

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.




Our Clients

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 Living Social

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.