Travel firms urged to promote inclusivity at Advantage conference

Travel firms have been urged to get better at personalising their services and products to become more inclusive businesses.

Speaking at the Advantage Travel Partnership’s 2022 conference in Madeira, OutThere magazine editor-in-chief Uwern Jong said the industry was “more in tune” with diversity and inclusion than ever before, but conceded: “We sadly work in an industry where there is still outright discrimination.”

Jong, who described himself as an ‘openly gay Asian man’, highlighted travel industry advertising campaigns that use traditional stereotypes of heterosexual couples on a beach or conventional families of four to market honeymoons or hotel stays rather than more inclusive imagery.

“Honeymooners can be the same gender or a honeymoon could be a city break, or honeymooners could take their kids but the vision generally defaults [to the stereotype],” he said.

With LGBTQ accounting for around 13% of total travel spend, according to Jong, being inclusive is “good for business”.

He encouraged travel firms to improve the way they market travel experiences to customers with a more bespoke, personal approach, to give themselves a competitive advantage.

He said: “We all need to get far better at personalisation; this means making every effort to extract the right information for our customers.

“We are selling good times and dreams so surely being inclusive and personalising the experience is crucial so our customers feel they truly belong. Travellers are looking for greater level of personalisation from their agents.”

He said agents did not need to change the entire way they run their business, but instead make personalisation “a part of your every day” and inclusion a “core part of what you do.”

Once agents do this it is important they tell clients, he added. “If you are going to do it, shout about it. Think about your policy: I rarely see travel providers highlight their diversity programme. They can really help you get to market.”

Jong also urged agents to eliminate unconscious bias from their organisations, adding: “You may not be aware of it [unconscious bias]. If you don’t have a diverse audience it’s because you are not an inclusive brand.”

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