June 23, 2020

Since our last “Shifts in the Media Landscape” update, two topics have dominated the news cycle – the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, both of which are significantly impacting and leading to changes in the travel and media industries.

Travel is definitely looking up. TSA reported more than half a million daily screenings for the first time since the pandemic hit, and 70% of Americans anticipate taking at least one leisure trip in 2020. Booking sites like Travelocity and Priceline have also revealed a surge in last-minute bookings among U.S. travelers. FINN Partners’ poll of 300 journalists in the U.S., U.K. and Asia revealed that:

  • 95% are ready for press trips once restrictions are lifted
  • 83% are looking for international content
  • 73% are interested in domestic stories

During this time, we’ve also witnessed Black Lives Matter protests across the globe following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and many more. The movement and recognition of widespread police brutality have gained more momentum and mainstream support than ever, impacting media beyond just breaking news.

  • The Black community is largely ignored by the travel industry, as reported by CNNSkiftTravel WeeklyCondé Nast Traveler and more. The most frequent criticisms include the lack of diversity at travel companies and on tourism boards and of journalists on press trips, as well as the lack of representation included in promotional materials and itineraries. Pressing for industry-wide diversity, The Black Travel Alliance was recently launched and immediately introduced its Black Travel Scorecard to evaluate and establish transparency from travel brands. More than a thousand writers and industry professionals came together to create a petition to push the travel industry to do better in its fight against racism, while Travel + Leisure launched a podcast to celebrate diversity in travel.

  • The travel industry has been criticized for not taking the Black experience into account when speaking to new trends. In the wake of the pandemic, editors and brands across the board declared 2020 to be the “Summer of Road Trips,” identifying it as a “safe” option that controls the number of interactions while traveling. However, The New York Times shined a light on the fact that for Black travelers, “the road trip has long conjured fear, not freedom.”

  • Executives at leading publications are experiencing shake-ups with close examination of complacency and racist corporate culture. We’ve seen Condé Nast face the most backlash. While Anna Wintour’s leadership has been questionedformer employees came forward with accounts of racist behavior. Headlines included racist cover shootsunequal payoffensive Tweets and refusal to host diversity eventsBon Appetit’s Editor-in-Chief Adam Rapoport has since resigned, while editors in chief at Refinery29Variety and Man Repeller have also stepped down. In good news: Harper’s Bazaar appointed its very first Black editor-in-chief, Samira Nasr.

  • Brands are expected to be more diligent in having inclusive representation in their imagery. #TheVogueChallenge went viral, reimagining Vogue covers to feature more Black talent and demanding change from the fashion industry. Brides made an announcement pledging to feature more diverse couples, to cover more BIPOC-owned businesses and to cease plantation wedding coverage. Brides’ sister site Byrdie said they will no longer feature brands that do not include BIPOC in their imagery. MMGY NJF suspects that other publications may follow suit with new editorial policies.

  • Brands have been called out for seeming performative on social media without providing concrete next steps to fight against racism. Additionally, Black influencers such as Gloria Atanmo have reported an unusually high influx of incoming inquiries from companies scrambling to look inclusive on their channels. In an effort to call out tokenism, Atanmo published a guide on how to hold brands accountable to create larger change instead of just filling a quota.

  • In an effort to support the Black community, almost every outlet has published personalized lists of Black-owned businesses, including New York MagazineEsquireMarie ClaireGlamourEaterPeopleTODAY and many more. Apps highlighting these businesses, such as EatOkra, have also seen a significant spike in demand. Overall, there is a push for tourism boards to make a larger effort in promoting their destinations’ minority-owned businesses on a regular basis.

Other travel news and media trends that have been making headlines in the last few weeks include: