Black Travel Alliance honored with TPG award for efforts to diversify the industry

Nov 11, 2021

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On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was murdered in a neighborhood of Minneapolis by Derek Chauvin, a white police officer with the city’s police department, after the latter knelt on the former’s neck for more than nine minutes.

The murder, caught on video by a 17-year-old bystander, set off a chain reaction that reverberated around the world. There were protests in cities across the globe, and a long-overdue reckoning on the treatment of Black people began. While thousands of brands were posting black squares on their social media platforms in solidarity with protesters, a new organization — the Black Travel Alliance — was created almost a month after Floyd was killed by Chauvin.

The newly formed group of Black travel content creators called for destination management organizations and travel brands to take their support beyond social media — by working toward more meaningful representation of Black voices in the travel industry.

And today, TPG is thrilled to honor the organization with our Making a Difference Awards — part of Travel Week at the 2021 TPG Awards.

“According to a 2018 report from Mandala Research, Black Americans alone spend $63 billion on travel each year, yet there is little to no Black representation in the management and staff of larger travel companies,” said BTA in a press release. “Similarly, there is a major lack in Black representation on press trips and in marketing campaigns, even from cities and countries that attract or constitute a large number of Black people.”

BTA then launched the Black Travel Scorecard as part of its #PullUpForTravel campaign asking destinations management organizations and travel brands to publicly share Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) from 2019 on Black representation in their companies and activities in five major areas: employment, conferences & tradeshows, paid advertising/marketing campaigns, press, and philanthropy.

As part of its campaign, BTA publicly called out major travel brands including TripAdvisor, Kayak, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and JetBlue to submit their own scorecard. The Points Guy met with the BTA board and was one of the first travel brands to get aboard with BTA’s efforts. Others pledging to help included Caribbean & Co., Matador Network, Memphis Travel, Northstar Travel Group and Visit Jackson, Miss.

BTA identified 121 organizations as posting about #BlackLivesMatter or #BlackOutTuesday, and of these companies, 67 — or 55% — responded to the #PullUpForTravel campaign. Here are some additional highlights from the campaign results released in October 2020 (warning: PDF link):

  • Employment: Of the 67 campaign respondents, 29 companies gave a percentage range of 0% to 90%. However, most of the responses were for the category of POC employees and not specifically for Black employees.
  • Conferences & tradeshows: Of the 67 respondents, six companies provided figures showing that they ensured Black representation on speaker panels, workshops, and sessions at conferences and trade shows.
  • Paid advertising/marketing campaigns: Of the 67 respondents, 12 companies provided data figures demonstrating that they included Black representation in the areas of TV, radio, print, and digital channels (including social media) in 2019.
  • Press: Of the 67 respondents, six companies provided data indicating that they ensured Black representation on media or press trips in 2019.
  • Philanthropy: Of the 67 respondents, five companies provided figures for charitable contributions/support to black charities and community groups.

In short, there was a lot of room for improvement.

Related: The Points Guy releases diversity, equity and inclusion efforts

Four months later, BTA and MMGY Travel Intelligence released “The Black Traveler: Insights, Opportunities & Priorities” report. In it, they found Black U.S. leisure travelers spent $109.4 billion on travel in 2019 — the most recent year reflecting normal spending habits prior to COVID-19. This figure rose to $129 billion when international leisure travel was added.

Then, in January 2021, BTA and MMGY released part two of “The Black Traveler” report. It found that Black travelers — particularly those in the U.S., Canada, the U.K, and Ireland — are paying close attention to how destinations and travel service providers approach diversity, and they indicated that it has an influence on their travel decision-making.

And earlier this year, in July 2021, it partnered with Tourism RESET to unveil the History of Black Travel website. It was created to showcase the development of Black leisure travel and educate the public on how the African Diaspora traveled to every inch of the Earth, progressively making its mark within the travel industry, from the past into the present.

TPG honors the Black Travel Alliance with the Making a Difference Award in 2021 for using the tragedy of George Floyd’s murder for good by calling on the industry to show its diversity numbers and to work harder at bringing in more voices to travel.

Featured photo by FatCamera/Getty Images

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