SUMMIT REPORT Future of Travel Week: Experts discuss diversity and consumer demand. Lee Hayhurst reports

‘Staff diversity can play a key role in business recovery’


ravel companies that fail to keep diversity high on their agenda during the Covid-19 crisis are risking

their chances of successfully emerging from the pandemic. Speakers in a Future of Travel

Week panel on diversity in the workplace said firms that put aiming for greater diversity on the back burner would lose out commercially, particularly among a younger generation acutely aware of the issues. Jamie-Lee Abtar, executive

director of BAME Women In Travel, said the growing demographic of millennial and Gen Z consumers expect the companies they spend their money with and work for to be socially responsible. “As we reimagine and rebuild the


September 14-18, 2020


travel and tourism industry, diversity and inclusion needs to be at the top of the agenda,” Abtar said. “You are not only missing out

from a social perspective, but the business side is massive. That younger generation wants to see that you are being socially responsible.”

Travel remains consumers’ top leisure

Jamie-Lee Abtar

In partnership with Abtar said firms will also benefit

from diversity in terms of recruitment because the younger generation of employees will see that as a factor when deciding who they want to work for. Claire Osborne, chair of the

Association of Women Travel Executives and head of local product at Travelport, said diverse companies were winners commercially. “It’s proven that diverse

companies are generally more successful because they appeal to a wider base of people. The more diverse your workforce is, the more

ideas you have, the more creativity you have, and the better positioned you are to come out of Covid in a stronger position.” John Tanzella, president and chief

executive of the global LGBTQ+ organisation IGLTA, said: “Large corporations have let a lot of employees go, but we will do our bit to make sure diversity is factored in to the first round of bringing back employees. “It is really important for

corporations to keep diversity and inclusion at the forefront.”

priority, says publishing giant Hearst UK Pent-up demand to resume travelling remains strong for 2021, according to research carried out by consumer publishing giant Hearst UK. The company regularly surveys a panel of 65,000 readers, in addition

to carrying out online polls through its brands including Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping and Esquire. Gaby Huddart, group editorial director of Hearst’s Lifestyle

& Homes division, said: “The appetite has not gone away at all. Reader research shows travel is still the highest priority when it comes to disposable income.” Jacqueline Euwe, Hearst UK’s chief luxury officer,

predicted an upturn in demand for luxury travel, with clients “probably willing to pay more for trips that offer greater protection and greater privacy.” Amy Grier, executive editor of Cosmopolitan, said younger readers were “ready to fly tomorrow”.


The travel sector is unlikely to see a full recovery to pre-Covid levels until late 2023, according to analysis conducted for Google. The results of an in-depth study

of the prospects for travel were presented by Bain & Company. Phil Kleweno, global head of

leisure and travel, said the consulting firm had mapped out five scenarios, all of which assumed the emergence of a vaccine some time in 2021. The “most likely” of these predicts

Gaby Huddart 14 24 SEPTEMBER 2020

“a full recovery to pre-crisis levels, but not until late in 2023, with some persistent changes in consumer

behaviour driven by a more challenging economic recovery”, said Kleweno. “It also assumes business travel will

resume in 2021, although international travel will remain sluggish until 2022, and that holiday travel at the end of 2020 does provide a boost.” Two other positive outlooks were

suggested, including a vaccine scenario where an “immunity solution” emerges sooner than expected. However, two more pessimistic

possible outcomes were also suggested: a “second wave scenario”; and a “drifting scenario”, in which pre-Covid behaviours do not return.

PICTURES: Megan Taylor; Shutterstock

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