Be an Ally: 4 Steps to Ensure Your Hotel is Inclusive & Diversity-Friendly

Conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are becoming more and more central to businesses worldwide. As diverse and socially conscious consumers continue to grow in numbers, so do their expectations of companies. 

Target audiences such as Millenials and Gen Zers, in particular, are known to make value-driven choices when it comes to choosing one brand over another, and support companies that demonstrate a genuine commitment to DEI.

But what does it mean for a company to be diverse and inclusive?


Understanding Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

DEI is defined as the representation and participation of different groups of individuals, including people of different races and ethnicities, religions and cultures, ages, abilities and disabilities, and genders and sexual orientations. 

You can think of a DEI strategy as an active and systematic effort to create and maintain an environment that ensures all people have equal access to opportunities and experiences, where different needs are taken into consideration and supported. 


What DEI Can Mean To Your Hotel 

At a time when customer loyalty is harder than ever to win, and with customers actively seeking more inclusive companies to support, it’s no wonder that DEI is a hot trend in the hotel industry. 

A survey by Accenture showed that when guest inclusivity is at the core of travel experiences, it can yield significant benefits for a company and create an advantage over the competition. From over 2,700 consumers surveyed, almost half stated that they would pay a 5-20% premium if it meant travelling with a company that values and promotes diversity and inclusion.

Having an inclusive and diversity-friendly culture, however, has also been found to greatly increase a company’s level of innovation and agility, as well as lead to greater business outcomes, as shared by the Deloitte Review.

So, how can you make sure your hotel is aligned with these principles and that your customer experience is inclusive and diversity-friendly?

4 Steps to an Inclusive & Diversity-Friendly Hotel

1. Be open to change

As you set out to become a more inclusive hotel, one of the most important things you can do is keep an open mind. By allowing yourself to be open to feedback and change, you’ll find that you can receive valuable information from any number of different sources,  be it your employees, guests, competitors, or even just relevant content online. 

As change is one of the hardest things we go through as humans, if you find that things are stalling or you feel resistance at some point, remember that it’s quite natural and that there are many ways you can help your people embrace change


2. Assess your current situation

Before jumping into action, take a moment to assess your hotel’s current DEI situation by looking at all levels of your organisation. The aim is to make sure you’re not unintentionally excluding anyone from your hotel’s community, including: your customer experience; your hiring and promotion practices; the communication and culture your company fosters; the amenities, services and benefits you offer; the partners you choose to work with, and even the products you use.

To assess your hotel, start by asking yourself questions like:

  • Are we doing enough to help all our guests feel welcome, irrespective of background, religion, disability, age, race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality?
  • Do we have any policies or practices in place that might prevent people from feeling included or supported?
  • How are we supporting employees who identify as LGBTQIA+ or your people who have a disability? Does our staff feel comfortable and safe to share any needs they might have with management? 
  • How inclusive is our hotel when it comes to differences in race, gender identity, religion, disability status, mental health, etc.?
  • Are we actively engaging with local communities?
  • In what ways do we encourage feedback from our customers and employees?
  • How inclusive are we in our communication?

3. Develop & implement an actionable DEI strategy

Based on your assessment findings, your next step is to think about how you can either strengthen your current DEI policy or start putting one together from scratch. Here are some ideas to help you get started: 

  • Find ways in which your DEI policy can align with and support your hotel’s strategic goals and vice-versa.
  • Identify any challenges you might face such as lack of budget, lack of resources, difficulty identifying industry benchmarks, etc. 
  • Study the competition and learn from companies in the industry that already have successful policies in place. For example, some industry leaders in DEI policy include Hyatt, Marriott, and Hilton. 
  • Consider assigning or hiring someone to be the official DEI Officer responsible for implementing and maintaining the policy in place, as well as monitoring and improving your strategy. 
  • Set up a system for receiving feedback and/or recommendations specifically geared toward helping your hotel become more inclusive and diversity-friendly.
  • Make sure that your strategy extends throughout your company culture and practices; from your customer experience to internal procedures such as hiring, training, and promoting employees.
  • Think about designing new and inclusive travel experiences that you can offer guests. 
  • Share your commitment to DEI with your customers by communicating the actions you’re taking in a way that celebrates diversity. 


4. Go the extra mile

  • Explore ways in which you can further empower your employees to become the vanguard of these changes, both in your hotel and in society. 
  • Engage in conversations with local businesses and share your experience of becoming an ally. 
  • Stay up to date with the discussions and research taking place globally.  
  • Remain open to receiving feedback and to finding new ways to be more inclusive and diversity-friendly.

A strong DEI strategy can be a defining factor for your hotel’s growth and give your brand a competitive advantage. From building customer and employee loyalty to knowing that you’ve done your best to ensure that every person feels included and welcome in your hotel, DEI is an investment worth making.

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