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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion - Destination Tourism Strategy

Carl Ribaudo for Insights Collective


DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) has become a very controversial topic within this country's political dimensions. The media attacks it almost daily.

Another question DMO executives might want to ask is, can DEI practices improve their strategy? Can using DEI improve how the organization develops its competitive and marketing strategy?


What is DEI? DEI stands for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. It is an acronym representing a set of principles and practices to create a more inclusive and equitable environment in various settings, such as workplaces, educational institutions, and communities.


Diversity refers to representing and including individuals from various backgrounds, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, and socioeconomic status. Embracing diversity recognizes the value and importance of different perspectives, experiences, and identities.


Equity focuses on ensuring fair treatment, opportunities, and outcomes for all individuals, regardless of their backgrounds or identities. It involves addressing systemic barriers and biases that may disproportionately affect certain groups and creating a level playing field for everyone.


Inclusion involves creating an environment where everyone feels welcomed, valued, and respected. It goes beyond mere representation and actively seeks to remove barriers and create a sense of belonging for all individuals. Inclusive practices involve fostering a culture of respect, empathy, and collaboration.

This can be a challenge as most strategic planning efforts include some level of community input in workshops or community meetings. These meetings often attract those who have some level of interest in tourism. However, to understand the community perspective, you must go deeper. I often look to embed in the community and participate in the activities they like to do, i.e., hiking, mountain biking, skiing, etc. It’s there on the chair lift, trailhead, or dive bar that you get a richer and more inclusive perspective of what the community thinks and feels about tourism. Sometimes, being inclusive is time-consuming and complicated. I have gotten many good insights I would have never heard in a community workshop.


What are the benefits of DEI in developing a strategy for your tourism organization? DEI practices can significantly improve strategy, development, and competitive advantage for destination marketing organizations in several ways:


  1. Enhanced Understanding of Target Markets: DEI practices help destination marketing organizations better understand their target markets' diverse needs, preferences, and behaviors. By recognizing and embracing the diversity within their customer base, organizations can develop more tailored and inclusive marketing strategies that resonate with different population segments. This can lead to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.

  2. Expanded Market Reach: Destination marketing organizations can attract more visitors and customers by embracing DEI practices. By promoting destinations as inclusive and welcoming to people from all backgrounds, organizations can tap into new market segments and attract diverse visitors who may have been overlooked. This can expand the organization's customer base and increase revenue.

  3. Innovation and Creativity: Diversity within destination marketing organizations can foster innovation and creativity. When individuals from different backgrounds and perspectives come together, they bring unique ideas, experiences, and insights to the table. This diversity of thought can lead to innovative marketing strategies, campaigns, and initiatives that set the organization apart from competitors and create a competitive advantage.

  4. Authentic and Meaningful Connections: DEI practices help destination marketing organizations build authentic and meaningful connections with their target audience. By showcasing diversity and inclusivity in their marketing efforts, organizations can create a sense of belonging and make visitors feel valued and represented. This can result in stronger emotional connections, positive word-of-mouth, and increased brand reputation.

  5. Employee Engagement and Productivity: Implementing DEI practices within destination marketing organizations can improve employee engagement, satisfaction, and productivity. Creating an inclusive work environment where employees feel valued, respected, and supported fosters a sense of belonging and encourages employees to bring their whole selves to work. This can lead to higher creativity, collaboration, and employee retention.

  6. Reputation and Brand Image: Destination marketing organizations prioritizing DEI practices can enhance their reputation and brand image. Consumers and travelers increasingly seek destinations and organizations aligning with their values in today's socially conscious world. By demonstrating a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, organizations can enhance their brand reputation and attract customers who prioritize inclusivity and social responsibility.


Overall, DEI practices contribute to a more equitable and inclusive society and give destination marketing organizations a strategic advantage. By embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the organization and developing competitive strategies, these organizations can develop more robust, effective marketing strategies, reach new markets, foster innovation, and build stronger connections with their target audience.



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