An essential maxim we’ve all learned since grade school is to “show, don’t tell.” And although it’s mainly been used to teach the art of writing, such sage advice can also apply to scenarios where actions should triumph wordplay.
This advice applies especially to the travel industry in the age of George Floyd, where companies have expressed solidarity with the Black plight and even shared plans to uplift Black travel voices and talent moving forward.
I speak for many travel professionals with this sentiment: “You’ve told us that ‘Black Lives Matter’ — but do we really matter to you and the industry at large? Show us.”
You’ve told us that 'Black Lives Matter' — but do we really matter to you and the industry at large? Show us.
I am one of the proud founding members of the Black Travel Alliance, a new collective of media professionals dedicated to seeing this “show me” aspect of the industry come into fruition.
When I previously called for an industry-wide response to racism and diversity, I explained that awareness is the first step to addressing our industry’s blind spots. Once awareness is established, accountability must follow. The latter is the bedrock of the alliance’s role: to communicate and ensure implementation of said plans by destination management organizations (DMOs) and other tourism organizations for a more inclusive industry.
The latter is the bedrock of the alliance’s role: to communicate and ensure implementation of said plans by destination management organizations and other tourism organizations for a more inclusive industry.
Minority-based organizations such as the Black Travel Alliance are so crucial to our world in travel, because all too often, single marginalized voices have been drowned out by the systemic powers that be. Many have heard the isolated stories of Black travel influencers being remunerated less than their white counterparts for the same work: Has the industry ever addressed this racial pay gap? Former Black editorial employees from a few travel media outlets have professed to encountering microaggressions with senior staffers: Has travel media ever done the work to enforce an inclusionary corporate culture?
RELATED: Northstar Travel Group Issues Statement on Racism and Diversity
While tourism has lagged for decades in diversity, it only seems this year a “great awakening” has occurred. Thus, having a strong, collective voice that seeks to collaborate with and educate — not just simply call out — the industry as an accountability partner for systemic change can yield powerful, tangible results.
As of now, there is simply too scant a number of Black executive decision-makers in any given travel boardroom — how can you start making effective diversity and inclusion changes without input from the very people these changes affect? This is why an alliance of this nature is necessary. Think of it as part of the industry ecosystem and a wealthy source of counsel and accountability for inclusion initiatives.
This is why an alliance of this nature is necessary. Think of it as part of the industry ecosystem and a wealthy source of counsel and accountability for inclusion initiatives.
I, for one, am heartened and encouraged by the amount of responses received by tourism boards and companies for the alliance’s 72-hour #PullUpForTravel challenge, which asked travel brands and DMOs to share reports on Black representation in staffing, influencer outreach, media presence and other metrics. I believe that when companies participated in this challenge and reflected on their data of Black representation (or lack thereof), it helped them identify their corporate weak spots and think deeper on how they can shape their companies’ futures.
The #PullUpForTravel Challenge
The #PullUpForTravel challenge asked travel companies to provide the following:
- Employment — Current number and percentage of Black people in management and on staff
- Conferences and Tradeshows — Black representation (number and percentage) on speaker panels, workshops, sessions, etc. in 2019
- Paid Advertising/Marketing Campaigns — Black representation (number and percentage) in TV, radio, print and digital channels including social media in 2019
- Press — Black representation (number and percentage) on media/press trips in 2019
- Philanthropy — Charitable contributions and support (i.e. mentorship and intern programs, etc.) to Black charities and community groups
And, to be clear, the alliance’s work extends well beyond the #PullUpForTravel challenge. We’re aware that suggesting and implementing solutions is a marathon-length race. We’re in it for the long haul, and we hope the travel companies that have stated this desire for systemic change will be dedicated enough to see this change through as well.
I hope you’ll join us.
Black Travel Alliance