Black Travel Professionals Push for Representation
Black travellers and industry professionals are demanding tourism companies reassess their marketing and management procedures to equitably include Black perspectives on travel. Launched in March, US organisation Black Travel Alliance (BTA) is holding the industry accountable to supporting the concerns of Black travellers, who drive $63bn of travel spend in the US alone (Mandala, 2018).
In mid-June, BTA launched #PullUpForTravel, echoing the recent campaign #PullUpOrShutUp demanding that beauty brands standing up for Black Lives Matter reveal how many Black employees each organisation includes (see more on The Brief). BTA drew up a five-point survey that asks travel companies and destination marketing boards to disclose the number of Black employees they have, the extent to which Black professionals are represented at events, the diversity of models in advertising campaigns, Black representation on press trips, and amount of charitable contributions.
“We already know nine times out of 10 that their numbers are probably not where they need to be,” Martina Jones, travel blogger and BTA board member, told CN Traveler. “We want to see where they’re at in terms of representation on their teams. From there, we can work on improving it down the line.”
Notable respondents from the US include hotel group Marriott’s Bonvoy rewards programme, luggage brand Eagle Creek, the tourism board for Jackson, Mississippi and travel rewards website The Points Guy, the latter of which announced donations to multiple social justice groups for Black writers, youth and social justice organisations.
Start-up companies also responded, including Canada-based destination photography service Flytographer, UK hospitality marketing company Stay the Night and US travel media company Tripsavvy, who has pledged to devote at least 25% of Instagram stories to feature Black-owned businesses, as well as recruiting more BIPOC in-destination writers.
As we explain in The Black Travel Movement, the brands who embrace Black travellers and work with Black industry professionals will find opportunity in meeting demand for tours, advice and experiences that take into consideration the discrimination that Black tourists may face on the road. While Black-focused tour groups like US-based Nomadness Travel have had tremendous success, the rest of the industry needs to adapt products, services and marketing to reflect the diversity of people who travel.