The State of the Travel Industry Amid Volatility: Say Yes To Travel


We have seen Delta, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Royal Caribbean, Four Seasons, Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson, Hyatt, Hilton, Best Western, Salamander Hotels and others share messages during the latest nationwide protests.

However, few are speaking out publicly, as CEOs of other major brands have chosen to address their companies internally.

I’ve had a few people ask me, “Why isn’t the travel industry doing more?”

Let’s look at the travel industry. It’s an industry trying to keep from drowning.

The U.S. travel industry is bogged down in its own business survival at the moment. With thousands of restaurants and hotels shuttered and airlines grounded, many of which may never reopen or fly commercially again, these businesses are occupied with figuring out how to keep paying bills.

We certainly can’t ask for money. Many are on the verge of bankruptcy and need that money for employees. But we could ask for them to pledge to hire more people of color moving forward and to promote more people of color from within.

Do they feel like their hands are tied? With big government bailouts, are big gestures too polarizing for an industry that needs all the customers it can get? I am not saying this is right, but I am exploring the possibilities.

So maybe it is not what the travel industry can do for the movement (though it can and will do more), but how we can USE the travel industry for the movement?

I come back to the purpose of travel. Why do we travel, and what can we learn from it? Travel is a means of breaking down walls and barriers.

A Skift article recently addressed this, and it is worthy of sharing:

“After all, the travel industry — in theory —should be built on inclusivity, because the foundation of travel is discovery, meeting and doing business with people from different cultures, races, ethnic groups, genders, and viewpoints, and breaking down barriers. Whether it is travel agents, flight attendants or hoteliers, travel staff should be almost inherently progressive if they believe in their companies’ missions, right?”

This is not to say that the travel industry is perfect.

“Even among some of the prominent companies that ‘talk the talk’ about diversity and inclusion, board membership tends to be majority white men, and too often, the old boys’ network is still running the show behind the scenes.

Let’s face it, too: With leisure and hospitality unemployment officially running close to 40% in the U.S., COVID-19 has wiped out diversity as a priority almost across the board. It’s often the way things go in business — last hired, first fired. Women and minorities in the travel industry find themselves disproportionately represented on socially distant or virtual unemployment lines these days.”

Don’t be too quick to judge the travel industry. And don’t get me wrong, there are so many part of the industry that need to be fixed, and from the top down. The travel industry has been knocked to the ground with the whole pandemic—before we kick them while they are down, let us see how they rise and address the elephant in the room.

This is not to give an excuse, but to look at the bigger picture as a whole. I expect some big announcements to come.

The travel industry needs to step up to support and nurture the forces of change — and it would be much better off for doing so.

All I can say is let’s see what they do and say and let’s continue to travel ourselves to open our minds, not only for ourselves but to the people we encounter.

Continue to say YES to travel, because that is the best way to move forward.

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