In this series, we dive into the topic of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and hear the perspectives of leaders within the travel and tourism industry. My team has taken the show on the road without me for this episode, and I’m excited that they and you are benefitting from all the great information shared at The Travel Unity Summit. For this first episode in a special three-part series of Destination on the Left, Rhonda and Brittany visited the Travel Unity Summit to chat to attendees about their experiences working in the travel and tourism industry, and particularly their experience of DEI in their communities.
I’m excited to share all the discussions and experiences that came out of my team’s experience at the Travel Unity Roadshow in Brookhaven, Georgia, and the candid conversations they had with guests at the summit. In this first episode of a special three-part Destination On The Left series, you’ll hear from these five fantastic travel and tourism leaders:
- Amber Cameron, Operations Director for Travel Unity
- Aquan Robinson, Director of Destination Sales for Experience Montgomery
- Bethany Rogers, Executive Director, NewTown Loans
- Billy Kolber, CEO and Co-founder of Hospitable ME
- Danny Guerrero, Founder, The Culturist Group
Insights and Experiences from the Travel Unity Roadshow
The Travel Unity Summit is focused on allowing everyone in the travel and tourism industry to
come together to tackle how to move forward on the vital work of incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) into strategic planning and implementation. Destination marketers and
members of the travel industry share ideas on applying the principles of DEI to ensure that their communities are welcoming to people of all backgrounds and abilities.
Amber Cameron from Travel Unity
Amber shares how she was able to incorporate DEI into every process every step of the way because she created the HR department from scratch at Travel Unity. She describes how by using the DEI standards that Travel Unity had created using a committee of external participants from around the travel industry, they were able to follow a pre-drawn roadmap to successfully refine their policies. Amber also shares her insights into building a fully engaged team to support the organization and the wider community in their DEI endeavors.
Aquan Robinson from Experience Montgomery
The travel industry is often the first touchpoint you have in many spaces. And whatever the attractions or destinations in the local community, it is vital to make sure that everyone has a fair and equitable experience. Aquan describes why we can make a business case for diversity, equity, and inclusion and why it’s essential for cities like Montgomery to be at the forefront of these conversations. The travel industry is so crucial to every community so it must lead the way in doing the right thing with regard to DEI.
Bethany Rogers from NewTown Loans
Bethany describes how NewTown Loans have been instrumental in increasing storefront occupancy in Macon, Georgia, by giving people opportunities to purchase that bigger banks have denied them. She shares what the Travel Unity Summit means to her and why for her, knowing that the whole travel and tourism community is moving in the same direction with diversity, equity, and inclusion is inspirational.
Billy Kolber from Hospitable ME
Billy explains how Hospitable ME provides inclusive hospitality strategy and education for tourism, retail, and healthcare organizations with particular expertise in LGBTQ+. He highlights the three steps they’re taking to bring DEI to their customers, including helping them understand who LGBTQ people are and how the LGBTQ plus market is relevant to their destination or organization. Billy also shares how his organization helps destinations build an LGBTQ+ network to engage with the community and offer queer-specific content that integrates queer people and LGBTQ+ topics and venues into their overall marketing campaigns.
Danny Guerrero from The Culturist Group
DEI is fundamental for Danny Guerrero, and he shares why he considers multicultural marketing and marketing resources and platforms in the travel and tourism industry to be an absolute must. The research shows that so many people are not feeling seen or welcome or represented in destination marketing — and often marketers want to be inclusive, but they often don’t know how to. Danny emphasizes that t’s not about selecting or segregating; it’s about reinforcing your brand strategy and approach to better understand the values and motivators of marginalized groups.
I hope you enjoyed this first episode of our special three-part series from the Travel Unity Summitt. Rhonda and Brittany and the leaders they spoke to have shared so many valuable insights into how destinations can move forward to embrace the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Next week we’ll hear from more remarkable travel and tourism experts, so I hope you’ll join the conversation!
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