Inclusion and Diversity in Travel

Melissa Maher, Chief Inclusion Officer, SVP of Marketing & Industry Engagement
February 19, 2020
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Here at Expedia Group, we celebrate and champion inclusion and diversity. One of our key priorities is creating a sense of belonging for our employees, customers, partners, and communities.

To foster this core value for employees, we are committed to continuing to create an inclusive environment that celebrates a blend of backgrounds, perspectives, and life experiences. Not only does this prioritize our values, it also attracts employees who share those same values: 47 percent of Millennials, 33 percent of Gen Xers, and 37 percent of Boomers are actively looking for diversity and inclusion when sizing up potential employers.

At Expedia Group, our mission is to bring the world within reach. Being in the travel industry, we are in the unique position of being able to inspire people across the world to experience and connect with new cultures, ideas, landscapes, and people. We believe that travel inherently expands people’s worldviews and we know that this is both a privilege and an opportunity.

When it comes to travel partners, we’ve embarked on a shared inclusion journey that connects them to diverse, global customers who share their values. Travel partners run the gamut from tour providers to global hotel chains, from cruise, car, and air to destination marketing organizations. We help travel partners expand how they are able to reach diverse travelers and who they are able to reach through our own global presence within diverse communities.

CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion

As part of our continued efforts to foster inclusion and diversity, Expedia Group has joined hundreds of other companies in signing the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion Pledge. A unique collaborative of over 800 CEOs, CEOAction.com states the pledge is “the largest CEO-driven business commitment to advance diversity and inclusion within the workplace,” and that the commitment is “driven by a realization that addressing diversity and inclusion is not a competitive issue, but a societal issue.”

Alongside 800+ companies, we pledge to: 

  • Continue to make our workplaces trusting places to have complex, and sometimes difficult, conversations about diversity and inclusion
  • Implement and expand unconscious bias education
  • Share best—and unsuccessful—practices
  • Create and share strategic inclusion and diversity plans with our board of directors

Travel Subgroup

We also created a Travel subgroup under CEO Action. Along with other members we:

  • Collaboratively share inclusion & diversity best practices and key learnings
  • Publish research with data and case studies on I&D in Travel
  • Host roundtables, calls and shared inclusion trainings. 

Currently the subgroup has 20 members, including Delta Airlines, The Hertz Corporation, Hyatt Hotel Corporation, Royal Caribbean International, and Wynn Resorts. 

If your organization is interested in joining, we invite you to contact us at EGInclusion@ExpediaGroup.com, or take this survey.

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Allyship at Expedia Group

The definition of an ally as we use it at Expedia Group is an individual that enjoys some privilege and is using that awareness to end oppression, create inclusion, and understand their own privilege.

Allyship isn’t an identity, but an action. By being an ally, and specifically by understanding your own privilege and actively taking action to support others, you can create more inclusive workspaces and communities.

We believe allyship is a catalyst for change, whether it is engaging in the conversation, changing your own mindset or the mindset of others and ultimately being part of a culture where everyone is welcome and feels they can succeed.

We scaled our Ally skills training globally, reaching over 1600 employees, by leveraging a Train the Trainer approach to involve employees as instructors. Each training is based on scenarios from local regions and include instances of how to be an ally based on stereotypical remarks or biases.

The three month results from the workshop were transformative: 96 percent of participants interacted socially with people outside their "normal" groups, 89 percent educated themselves on identities different from their own, 89 percent acted as an ally, and 96 percent invited different perspectives into conversation. We are also offering the training to employees of our travel partner group companies.

Connecting with Audiences Through Inclusion & Diversity

Travel marketers have an opportunity to be inclusive within the walls of their companies, but they also have a significant opportunity to extend their values of inclusivity and diversity when it comes to the works that extend beyond their company and into the world. Like other marketers, travel marketers are being challenged to produce inclusive marketing – and not just because inclusive and diverse marketing is the right thing to do. It’s also the commercial thing to do: For example, controlling $28 trillion in consumer spending, women represent a market bigger than China and India’s combined GDP. Women also influence 85 percent of all purchasing decisions, and account for 58 percent of online sales. Forty seven percent of women who travel, travel for business. For more insights, see the report that we worked with PhocusWire to produce, which features interviews with numerous brands around the industry.

Marketers have the power to shape how we think about and experience our world. This concept is no different for travel marketers. They have an opportunity to advertise their destination, property, etc. to all audiences in an inclusive way. Inclusive marketing partners naturally with inclusive services. Welcoming and serving a diverse set of travelers in an inclusive manner is the most authentic and powerful demonstration of shared values.

As the connection point between a brand and travel shoppers, who better than travel marketers to engage diverse audiences in an inclusive way?

Expedia Group's inclusive approach to bringing the world within reach is to connect travel shoppers with a world of options for their next adventure. Consumers are savvy to marketing; they can sense authenticity (or lack thereof) a mile away. Likewise, they respond positively to marketing that includes them. Understandably, people want to see themselves reflected in the advertising they consume.

For marketers looking to connect with audiences in an inclusive way, our partners turn to my colleagues at Expedia Group Media Solutions. They are trusted advisors who are equipped with the right data and insights to ensure marketers have a strategy that is attuned to a variety of audiences. This includes the right creative, messaging, and targeting to connect with and inspire diverse customers and demonstrate inclusivity. One example of inclusivity in action is the Day of the Dead group campaign, which raises awareness of the breadth of activities and experiences awaiting travelers in Mexico during Día de los Muertos.

Learn more about Expedia Group's inclusive mission to bring the world within reach while reflecting the diverse backgrounds and experiences of our employees, customers, partners, and communities.


Picture of Melissa Maher, Chief Inclusion Officer, SVP of Marketing & Industry Engagement
Melissa Maher
Chief Inclusion Officer, SVP of Marketing & Industry Engagement
With more than 20 years of leadership experience in travel, Melissa Maher spearheads three of Expedia Group’s highly promising areas of growth including Inclusion & Diversity, Marketing and Industry Engagement. As Expedia Group’s first Chief Inclusion Officer, Melissa leads the team responsible for celebrating and championing diversity and creating a sense of belonging for Expedia Group’s employees, customers, partners, and communities. As Expedia Group’s senior vice president of Marketing and Industry Engagement, Melissa leads the teams responsible for Expedia Group’s business-to-business Partner Marketing, Industry and Owners Relations, and Industry Engagement including Partner Loyalty (VIP Access) and Strategic Events.
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