Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and DailyXtra.ca. Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.
As the travel industry pick up the pieces and starts anew after two years of dealing with the pandemic, conversations around how to “build back better” are invoking opportunities to rethink ways of doing business.
One issue that is (finally) gaining more attention is the lack of Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) representation in travel marketing materials.
A topic PAX has explored previously, the lack of BIPOC models used in marketing has long been an issue in the travel industry – so much so that some travel agents have taken to sourcing photos of their own Black clients to promote services because there simply isn’t enough options to choose from.
Since 2020, following George Floyd’s murder, and the Black Lives Matter protests that followed, the world has been forced to confront and correct internal personal biases, and companies have begun evaluating ways in which anti-Blackness plays out in professional life.
While the work is far from finished, some in travel have taken up the call for a more diverse, inclusive and equitable industry with commitments to education, the formation of committees, along with other promises to take action.
This week, Celebrity Cruises became the latest to tackle not only BIPOC representation, but all representation, in travel by launching an open-source library of images featuring individuals from underrepresented groups.
The campaign – called The All-Inclusive Photo Project (AIPP) – aims to "change the face of travel marketing" and start a movement that calls on travel companies to address the lack of diversity in advertising imagery, Celebrity says.
READ MORE: Celebrity addresses lack of diversity in travel marketing with new image library
Addressing race, religion, health, sexual orientation and physical abilities, the images feature the works of acclaimed photographers, including Annie Leibovitz; Giles Duley, Naima Green, and Jarrad Seng, and Celebrity is allowing other brands and companies to use the images, for free.
PAX caught up with Celebrity Cruises President and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo to learn more about the new campaign.
PAX: Why was it important for Celebrity to address underrepresentation in the travel industry?
Lisa Lutoff-Perlo (LLP): Celebrity Cruises has a long history of promoting diversity and inclusion, but we saw an opportunity to do more. Our company’s mission is to open the world, and at the end of the day, this is the real beauty of travel. The All-Inclusive Photo Project aims to make travel marketing more reflective and representative of the people who travel, and we hope it will empower the travel industry overall to take more action.
PAX: At what point did Celebrity realize that changes in the industry had to be made?
LLP: During the pandemic, we spent a lot of time reflecting on our marketing efforts and discussing where we wanted to take our brand to come back even stronger. The All-Inclusive Photo Project was born out of these discussions and is our way of supporting the wider travel industry’s diversity and inclusion evolution.
PAX: What are the benefits of featuring underrepresented people in travel marketing?
LLP: As our very own Captain Kate [McCue] says, if you can SEA it, you can BE it. If you see people who look like you, you’re more inspired to go after it and more confident that the experience is welcoming and open to you. The real beauty in travel is in experiencing new cultures and meeting new people, and taking this forward in life. Inclusive advertising celebrates these connections and experiences.
PAX: Some travel advisors have had to produce their own diverse imagery for marketing. How will agents benefit from the new library?
LLP: Travel advisors are working to rebuild their businesses post-pandemic, this new library will be a great free resource for marketing imagery that we hope also helps bring new travellers and cruisers to them and Celebrity.
PAX: What will it take for the travel industry, as a whole, to fully embrace diversity in travel marketing practices?
LLP: We’re starting to see the industry move forward slowly, but for bigger changes, it's up to companies within the industry to hold themselves accountable and be more intentional and inclusive in their own advertising efforts, while encouraging others to do the same.
Travel brands and companies interested in accessing the AIPP library, which Celebrity will update with new images over time, can click here.
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