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While a diverse travel industry is important to many advisors, there is still a long way to go to achieve this goal, according to recent research conducted by TravelAge West as part of its Need to Know series.
The survey of nearly 300 advisors indicated that 47% of respondents believe the travel industry should take action to increase diversity, compared to 25% who disagreed and 29% who said they don’t know.
“The idea that less than 50% of our industry thinks that we should be taking actions to increase diversity is problematic,” said Brianna Glenn, owner of Costa Mesa Calif.-based Milk & Honey Travels. “There is an obvious lack of diversity, and if you don’t see that, it is a problem. If you see it and don’t think anything needs to be done about it — that’s a bigger problem. Either way, there has been plenty of statistics and data recently to show how lacking it is on every level.”
Some advisors (45%) indicate that fewer than 10% of their clients are BIPOC (Black, indigenous and people of color). At the same time, 72% of respondents say most of their agency colleagues are white. In the wider travel industry in general, 34% of advisors said that fewer than half of the people they work with are BIPOC, and 30% say that number is less than 10%.
“Based on my personal experience, I believe the percentages of agencies not recruiting BIPOC advisors, or doing anything to bring in BIPOC customers, is a bit generous,” Glenn said. “These seem to be more in line with what people want the perception to be, versus the reality of what it is.”
Perhaps these responses are not surprising, considering that most agencies are not really focused on the issue of diversity. Nearly half (49%) of respondents said that their agency does not take any specific steps to recruit more BIPOC advisors, and 45% say their agency does not do anything to reach out to diverse customers.
“Diversity is important to our industry because it’s important in every industry — but specifically for travel, we should be on the forefront of this issue,” Glenn said. “We should think of ourselves as global citizens, and work to make our industry more inclusive at every level. Direct effort is necessary, because it is obviously something that has not happened naturally. This year has caused many people to take a real look around them and see things that perhaps before they never had to pay attention to. So now that we know better, we need to do better.”
On the positive side, a large majority of advisors feel that the industry is headed in the right direction. Over three-quarters (77%) feel that the industry is more diverse than it was 10 years ago, and 76% think it will be more diverse 10 years from now than it is today.
“Need to Know” is a new research series from TravelAge West that tracks the responses of advisors as they relate to various travel trends and topics. This survey recorded the responses of 292 advisors across the U.S. Click here to see more Need to Know stories.