Boosting diversity and inclusion will ‘accelerate recovery’ in travel

Travel companies that improve diversity and inclusion will boost their bottom line and recover from the Covid-19 crisis more quickly.

A workshop at this year’s Travel Convention  heard that equality policies and ‘allyship’ can give firms a competitive edge and better reputation.

Jamie-Lee Abtar, executive director of BAME Women in Travel, said: “It gives a huge competitive advantage – you connect more closely with customers, attract more talent and boost the bottom line.

“It gives you different perspectives, increased creativity and profits, and a better company reputation.”

Alessandra Alonso, founder of Women in Travel, told delegates at the virtual seminar about the benefits of ‘allyship’ – the concept of supporting and championing under-represented groups.

“It will accelerate the recovery – it means we are not leaving anyone behind,” she said.

“You are tapping into a community who are not a minority when spending – they are incredibly affluent.”

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Jeanette Harper, director of travel and partnerships at Avis Budget Group, explained how she had worked over the past 10 years to make the global car rental company a more diverse employer.

She developed work placements for students to bring in a younger point of view as digital strategies became increasingly important, and launched a ‘power of difference’ brand.

This now emcompasses different initiatives, such as ‘power of women’, ‘power of veterans’ and ‘power of colour’.

Harper is also encouraging more men to be involved in events as part of the ‘he for she’ campaign.

“It does have to come from the top…you have to do a sales job internally to make it part of your DNA,” she commented.

“Do not just pay lip service to it.”

Uwern Jong, editor-in-chief of OutThere magazine, told the workshop how he had worked with allies to boost LGBTQ tourism in countries as varied as Thailand and Sweden. He also highlighted luxury hotel group Belmond which has an LGBT advisory board.

“This brings value to those brands, and bed nights and bookings,” he said.

“It’s what today’s traveller wants; a culture of inclusion is priceless.”

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