CONFERENCE REPORT Round-up of debates, workshops and speakers. By Travel Weekly reporters

‘Diversity boosts your reputation and your profits’


ravel companies that improve diversity and inclusion will boost their bottom line and recover

from the Covid-19 crisis quicker, the Travel Convention heard. A workshop agreed that equality

policies and ‘allyship’ can give firms a competitive edge and better reputation. Jamie-Lee Abtar, executive

director of BAME Women in Travel, said: “It gives a huge competitive advantage – you connect more closely with customers, attract more talent and boost the bottom line. It gives you different perspectives, increased creativity and profits, and a better company reputation.” Alessandra Alonso, founder of

A culture of

inclusion is what today’s traveller wants. It brings value – and bookings – to a brand. It’s priceless

Women in Travel, told delegates that ‘allyship’ – the concept of supporting and championing under-represented groups – “will accelerate the recovery”. “It means we are not leaving

anyone behind,” she said. “You are tapping into a community who are not a minority when spending – they are incredibly affluent.” Jeanette Harper, director of

Abta’s Tourism for Good report sets out framework for travel’s future

Abta published a report outlining the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on global travel and the need to “rebuild a more responsible and resilient tourism industry”. The report, ‘Tourism for Good: A Roadmap for Rebuilding Travel

and Tourism’, features nine core principles that provide a framework “for collaborative action to build better places to live in and better places to visit”. It said there was clear consumer demand for the industry to embrace

sustainability, with 52% of 2,000 people polled saying travel should reopen in a greener way post-pandemic. Central to the report is the belief that tourism is a “powerful force for

good”, although it also acknowledges challenges, including the need to hasten decarbonisation and do more to ensure tourism benefits local communities. The report emphasises the contribution of UK outbound tourism, and calls

on the UK government to support the sector’s role in economic development and jobs, and to spur transport providers to switch to greener technologies. To track progress, Abta is encouraging members to use a sustainability

survey to assess current approaches and areas that require more focus. i View the report:

Jamie-Lee Abtar

travel and partnerships at Avis Budget Group, explained how she had developed work placements for students to bring in a younger point of view to the firm as digital strategies became increasingly important, and launched a ‘power of difference’ brand. This now encompasses different

initiatives, such as ‘power of women’, ‘power of veterans’ and ‘power of colour’, Harper explained, adding that Avis Budget is also encouraging more men to be involved in events as part of the ‘he for she’ campaign. “It

‘Workplaces will need to be more flexible’ The future workplace needs to be more flexible and based on mutual trust between bosses and employees, the partner of an HR consultancy said. Mercer’s David Wreford predicted an increase in the number of staff wanting to split their time working between home and the office.

‘Tap into consumers’ sustainability focus’ The co-founder of organic chocolate brand Green & Black’s urged the industry to capitalise on a change in consumers’ attitudes towards sustainability. Jo Fairley said Abta’s ‘Tourism for Good’ report was “music to my

Alessandra Alonso

does have to come from the top. You have to do a sales job internally to make it part of your DNA,” she said. Uwern Jong, editor-in-chief

of OutThere magazine, told the workshop how he had worked with allies to boost LGBTQ+ tourism in countries from Thailand to Sweden and highlighted luxury hotel group Belmond’s LGBT advisory board. “This brings value to those brands,

and bednights and bookings,” he said. “It’s what today’s traveller wants; a culture of inclusion is priceless.”

ears” and that now is “the time for the travel industry to capitalise on a major shift in mindset”. She added: “People are looking for products, organisations and brands that show they care.”

‘Firms must act like start-ups to survive’

All travel firms must act like start-ups to survive in the post- Covid trading environment, according to University of Liverpool director Dr Paul Redmond, who said the pandemic had “accelerated” evolution of the workplace. He urged firms to network, build

contacts and listen to customers. i Read full coverage of the sessions at


22 OCTOBER 2020


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