Travel marketing ‘must be more diverse and inclusive’

Travel marketing ‘must be more diverse and inclusive’

Marketing experts have called on the travel industry to make its advertising more diverse and inclusive – and employ a broader range of staff. 

Carol Hay, Founder of consultancy McKenzie Gayle, told an audience at WTM London: “We have to ensure everyone feels they can travel.”
She said many websites cannot be used by people with visual or hearing impairments, and asked: “Are we reaching out to people with limited abilities/”
Hay recalled the “horrific” memory of Commonwealth Day at school, with images of black people “in the dirt, with a bowl in front of us, and a fly”. 

“Don’t think of the stereotypical – look at the talent, culture and heritage; use that in marketing. 

“There are so many misconceptions and biases about gender and race. 

“Tourism brings dignity to everyone, regardless of how they may feel marginalised.” 

Tom McLoughlin, Founder of SEO Travel, added: “I try to approach [the issue] with curiosity – don’t shy away from it, ask questions. 

“To make it better, look at your team – build a more diverse team with better insight.” 

Amy Skelding, Senior Partner at Finn Partners, highlighted initiatives by Intrepid Travel which has an ethical marketing guide.  

This aims to help the adventure operator better represent people of colour, different ages, races and weight, she told the audience during a marketing panel debate. 

She also highlighted the “queenager” demographic of midlife women – identified by the Founder of Eleanor Mills – who make financial decisions at work and in their households. 

“They are a missed opportunity,” she added. 

Hay highlighted how travel and tourism companies can have five generations working for them – from the baby boomers who started out with manual typewriters to Gen A teenagers who have only ever known a world of technology. 

She urged employers to prepare their workforce for the “stress and anxiety” that tech can bring as it can mean people have to work faster – which can lead to burnout. 

Session moderator Marcus Murphy, Co-founder and CEO at The Five Percent, advised marketers to look at those aged 18 to 34 as they will be the future of travel. 

He said they are “one of the hardest groups to engage” but they “crave community” so he urged marketing professionals to look at working with influencers, who have already created communities that are trusted by this generation. 

Skelding also encouraged travel professionals to develop sustainability strategies, adding: “It makes a difference in how people book. It is coming faster than people realise. 

“People are listening to the drum-beat about sustainable travel.” 

Murphy and McLoughlin both tipped personalisation as a key strategy for marketing experts. 

“It is much more than just a monthly marketing email on MailChimp – the emails I open are the ones where I feel they’ve written to me,” said McLoughlin. 

Murphy warned that all types of engagement are at an all-time low, with consumers distracted by their phones and exhausted by hundreds of emails each day. 

“Consumers are demanding that brands truly know and understand them,” he said. 

“Personalisation will be the next big thing.” 

Commenting on the discussions about diversity and inclusion, he said: “This is why WTM is so important, as we discuss how we can approach that; WTM does a fantastic job.” 



Photography from WTM shows is available to download via the following link:

World Travel Market (WTM) Portfolio comprises leading travel events, online portals and virtual platforms across four continents. The events are:

WTM London, the leading global event for the travel industry, is the must-attend three-day exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry. The show facilitates business connections for the global (leisure) travel community. Senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international media visit ExCeL London every November, generating travel industry contracts.

Next live event: Monday 7 to 9 November 2022 at ExCel London and 6-8 November 2023 at ExCel London.

Arabian Travel Market (ATM), now on its 30th year, is the leading, international travel and tourism event in the Middle East for inbound and outbound tourism professionals. ATM 2022 attracted over 23,000 visitors and hosted over 30,000 participants including 1,500 exhibitors and attendees from 150 countries, across 10 halls at Dubai World Trade Centre. Arabian Travel Market is part of Arabian Travel Week. #ATMDubai

Next in-person event: Monday 1 to Thursday 4 May 2023, Dubai World Trade Centre, Dubai

Arabian Travel Week is a festival of events taking place within and alongside Arabian Travel Market 2023. Providing a renewed focus for the Middle East’s travel and tourism sector, it includes ILTM Arabia, ARIVAL Dubai, Influencers’ events and activations, ITIC, GBTA Business Travel Forums, as well as ATM Travel Tech. It also features the ATM Buyer Forums, ATM Speed Networking Events as well as a series of country forums.

WTM Latin America takes place annually in the city of São Paulo and attracts around 20,000 tourism professionals during the three-day event. The event offers qualified content together with networking and business opportunities. In this its ninth edition – there have been eight face-to-face events along with a 100% virtual one, which was held in 2021 – WTM Latin America continued to focus on effective business generation, and achieved the advance booking of six thousand meetings that were held between buyers, travel agents and exhibitors in 2022.

Next event: Monday April 3rd to Wednesday 5th April 2023 – Expo Center Norte, SP, Brazil

WTM Africa launched in 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa.  In 2022, WTM Africa facilitated more than 7 thousand unique pre-scheduled appointments, an increase of more than 7% compared to 2019 and welcomed more than 6 thousand visitors (unaudited), the same number as in 2019.

Next event: Monday 3 to Wednesday 5 April 2023 – Cape Town International Convention Centre, Cape Town

About ATW Connect:  Africa Travel Week’s digital arm, is a virtual hub packed to the seams with interesting content, industry news and insights, and the opportunity to hear from experts on a variety of topics in our new monthly webinar series. All with the aim to keep all of us in the travel and tourism industry connected. ATW Connect focuses on inbound and outbound markets for general leisure tourism, luxury travel, LGBTQ+ travel and the MICE/business travel sector as well as travel technology.

WTM Global Hub, is the new WTM Portfolio online portal created to connect and support travel industry professionals around the world. The resource hub offers the latest guidance and knowledge to help exhibitors, buyers and others in the travel industry face the challenges of the global coronavirus pandemic. WTM Portfolio is tapping into its global network of experts to create content for the hub.

About RX (Reed Exhibitions)

RX is in the business of building businesses for individuals, communities and organisations. We elevate the power of face to face events by combining data and digital products to help customers learn about markets, source products and complete transactions at over 400 events in 22 countries across 43 industry sectors. RX is passionate about making a positive impact on society and is fully committed to creating an inclusive work environment for all our people. RX is part of RELX, a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers.


RELX is a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers. The Group serves customers in more than 180 countries and has offices in about 40 countries. It employs over 33,000 people, of whom almost half are in North America. The shares of RELX PLC, the parent company, are traded on the London, Amsterdam and New York Stock Exchanges using the following ticker symbols: London: REL; Amsterdam: REN; New York: RELX. The market capitalisation is approximately £33bn, €39bn, $47bn.*

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World Travel Market brings the travel industry together through world-leading events, content and digital tools that make it easier for you to find personal and business opportunities and do more effective business.

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