Diversity in Tourism: Takeaways from the Travel Unity Summit Southeast

By now, DEAI/DEI is a familiar topic and critical strategy component within professional settings. And while conversations surrounding diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion are becoming more commonplace, representation of the diversity that surrounds us has always been more than a trend.

Travel Unity is an organization that seeks to make the world of travel welcoming to people of all backgrounds and abilities. Each year, they hold a summit bringing travel industry professionals together to collaborate and have candid discussions about broadening DEI efforts.

I had the pleasure of attending my first Summit in my home state of Georgia this past March. The Summit was led by Travel Unity’s CEO, Roni Weiss, with several influential panelists, speakers and presenters. The conversations were honest and insightful. While I had a pretty good understanding of DEI prior to attending, my eyes were opened to wider perspectives.

Consider all the variants that make us diverse.

While you likely have a clear understanding of what “diversity” means in the grand scheme of DEI, remember that there are many individual characteristics that make us who we are. In fact, take a moment to do this exercise: Give yourself 30 seconds to write down as many categories of diversity as you can. We’ll give you two to start: race and gender. Then read to the end to see the rest of our list.

Maintain authenticity.

Whether you’re making changes to include diverse individuals in your advertising or build a more inclusive workforce, don’t be performative or make decisions just to be on trend. The inauthenticity will pour through, just as authenticity does. Why are these changes important to your brand? Do your other business practices align with these changes?

Read about the steps Break the Ice is taking toward DEI

Listen to Episode 260 to hear about BTI’s actions toward DEI from Nicole Mahoney

Beyond advertising and workforce development, diversity in tourism marketing is also a place where organizations are making changes. This could be with the influencers and media you work with, the audiences you are targeting and statements you make publicly such as on your website or social media. Authenticity is key here, too.

When it comes to building equity, consider barriers.

Just as everyone comes from different backgrounds with their own experiences, everyone has different means and access. Remember that everyone’s needs are different and not one-size-fits-all. Are you meeting individuals where they are? Consider the barriers that might impact their ability to show up the same way others with different levels of opportunities or resources might?

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: 4 Tourism Resources

Inclusion is twofold.

First, ensure there is diverse representation in your work. For example: Do the individuals in your marketing and advertising reflect various groups of people? Alternatively, ask yourself: Could anyone feel excluded? Taking time to authentically incorporate these fundamentals into your strategy allows your audience to see themselves and build trust, a rapport and an affinity toward your brand.

Listen to Episode 275 about the First Autism-Certified City in the US with Marc Garcia

Second, ensure everyone has a seat at the table. How diverse is your C-suite? Have you created a space where your team is comfortable contributing and vocalizing their opinions? This is particularly important when the subject matter discussed is uncomfortable or controversial. Having different perspectives helpsyou avoid unintentional mistakes that can cast a negative light on your brand or the message you’re trying to get across.

To hear takeaways from more Travel Unity Summit Southeast 2022 attendees and DEI champions, tune into our podcast series! And be sure to keep an eye on the Travel Unity website for details on the next Summit.

Types of Diversity

Check this list with the exercise you completed above. How many did you think of? How could each one play a part in how you approach diversity in the tourism industry? Let us know if you think of any that aren’t listed here.

  • Racial/ethnic background
  • Ability/disability, neurodiversity
  • Language
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Citizenship, land of origin
  • Faith, religious and/or spiritual affiliation
  • Gender identity, gender expression
  • Sexual orientation
  • Age
  • Marital status