Creating Conscious Inclusion in Destination Marketing

As part of our collective journey toward post-pandemic recovery, organizations across the global tourism and hospitality industry are looking at opportunities to make meaningful changes and come back better. One such opportunity is to take steps to be more inclusive. Earlier this week, I spoke at Destinations International 2021 Annual Convention on the importance of inclusivity in destination marketing for both the recovery and the future of travel. Travel brands, such as Expedia Group, and destinations are uniquely positioned to open the world to more people—including travelers of different gender identities, ages, abilities, ethnicities, religions, and sexual orientations—to experience and connect with new cultures, ideas and landscapes.

As consumers increasingly value inclusion and the industry continues to serve a more diverse customer base, inclusion is critical for destination marketers, and representation in advertising matters.​ A recent Expedia Group study found that two in every three Americans are looking for their travel provider and the destination they are visiting to value diversity and inclusion, and this number is even higher for Gen Z and Millennial Americans. What’s more, a study from MMGY Global showed that 54% of Black travelers in the U.S. are more likely to visit a destination if they see Black representation in travel advertising.

As part of a global company with diverse brands, employees, customers and partners—including destinations around the world—we see first-hand the importance of inclusion.​ Expedia Group has made a conscious effort to bring inclusion and diversity to the forefront of our company mission, purpose and values. Many of the Expedia Group brands are exploring inclusive marketing tools, campaigns and strategies based on expertise from our dedicated Inclusivity & Diversity team and eight Inclusion Business Groups.

We have learned from our brands and our Inclusion & Diversity team that there are many ways to approach inclusivity in travel advertising.​ Let’s take a look at a few examples and best practices from across Expedia Group and the global travel industry.

Representation in advertising matters

Orbitz, which has been supporting the LGBTQIA+ community for over 20 years, has done amazing work around inclusive travel. Earlier this year, Orbitz launched its “Travel As You Are” campaign, which encourages LGBTQIA+ consumers to travel on their own terms. The brand also provides information and resources for travelers, such as a travel hub with listings for more than 35,000 hotels that have signed the company’s pledge of inclusion, and actively supports charities and causes that advance equality for the LGBTQIA+ community.

A recent TV ad for Orbitz, from its “Travel As You Are” campaign.

Vrbo, the go-to option for vacation rentals, is consciously including more Black, indigenous, and other people of color in its representation of family travelers.​ Following on from its December 2020 campaign voiced by John Legend, Vrbo recently unveiled its biggest campaign to-date, with a new ad again featuring Legend alongside a variety of real-life families experiencing surprise reunions with loved ones while the cameras rolled. Given the importance of continuous representation, this is just one aspect of Vrbo’s broader, holistic approach to ensure representation is a priority across the brand’s various touchpoints.  

Vrbo’s extended ad, featuring John Legend and some emotional family reunions.

Travelers are looking for brands who represent them – and their values

Diversity can mean many things—races, genders, ages, families, couples, abilities, activities and more​—and should be a key consideration in developing inclusive marketing content. Many destinations and travel brands are leaning into this with dedicated campaigns and programs. “All Inclusive Boston”, a recent campaign from The Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau, showcases the city as a destination with a new generation of diverse entrepreneurs, innovators, and artists – a city that is welcoming to everyone.​

Another good example is Visit Lauderdale, Greater Fort Lauderdale’s new destination brand, which recently launched with a new logo and tagline, “Everyone Under the Sun”. Fort Lauderdale is Florida’s LGBT+ capital, and the new brand encompasses the destination’s diverse community of residents and visitors, as well as the destination’s picturesque weather.

Meanwhile, New Zealand-based Makingtrax are proving themselves to be pioneers and experts in inclusive tourism, providing and supporting adaptive adventure opportunities for travelers with disabilities. These range from rafting to paragliding, and everything in between. ​To promote and champion the development of inclusive adventure opportunities, Makingtrax developed the ‘Trax Seal’: a visual benchmark that indicates a company’s support of adaptive adventure travel and inclusive tourism. ​

To learn more about approaching inclusivity in a brand-authentic way, and creating campaigns that ensure all travelers feel represented and welcome, check out our guide on Inclusion & Diversity in Travel Advertising.

You can also find out more about how Expedia Group brands and others are building inclusivity into their marketing strategies by watching this recent webinar on the topic.

WEBINAR Creating Conscious Inclusion in Travel Marketing

Derek Price

Director, Business Development, Expedia Group Media Solutions

As a director of business development for North America at Expedia Group Media Solutions, Derek Price drives business development with his team, and delivers creative and innovative digital media campaigns for partners on the network of leading travel brands across Expedia Group. Derek and his team work closely with travel and non-travel U.S. marketers as well as international destinations with U.S. representation. With more than 20 years in the travel industry, Derek has previously held roles from market management to media sales at online travel agencies (OTAs) and travel marketing companies, including Travelocity, Orbitz and Sojern. When not traveling with his team to meet with partners, Derek splits his time between New York City and Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

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