Ensuring Diversity in Travel Storytelling

Communities can teach us a lot, taking time to learn from others whether it's the LGBTQI+ community or indigenous communities.

Lottie explains that Contiki's commitment to sustainability goes back a long way. Today this is a commitment to being carbon neutral and embracing the brand message 'make travel matter'.

Lottie explains that Contiki's commitment to sustainability goes back a long way. Today this is a commitment to being carbon neutral and embracing the brand message 'make travel matter'.


At Contiki, they understand that impact and values are something that matters an awful lot to their 18-35 customer base and so it is critical to ensure they don't just communicate but they also demonstrate through actions. Initiatives like Make Travel Matter are a good example of this, where new experiences build on positive, local and community impact are at the very core of them - both to deliver on their brand values and also to progress on their commitments around the UN Sustainable Development Goals.


Lottie also explains that inclusivity and diversity are also really important for them, celebrating sexual diversity amongst other things. This led them to develop a partnership with Visit Spain where they travelled to Barcelona to capture the Pride festival.


This wasn't just a campaign, however, but it was a true end-to-end commitment to celebrating diversity. Every member of the crew was part of the LGBTQIA+ community from the production crew to the editors, ensuring that the content was shot through the lens of the community. Alongside this commitment they also wanted the message to be focused on the community, so only showcasing people from the LGBTQIA+ community to showcase Barcelona and Barcelona Pride. This was all part of showing the authentic message about just how welcoming Barcelona is to the community.


Another key aspect was ensuring that they wanted to ensure the content and story would live on far beyond the pride as one of the criticisms is often that brands jump onto pride, exploiting it rather than talking to the community with a true and authentic message.


The narrative around the partnership was to 'avoid rainbowashing' and ensure that this year-round message was shared throughout the year but also the content and stories don't just happen within the Pride trips, a new product offering from Contiki but also part of all travel brand content and in other product.


Lottie explains that the impact of this campaign has also been educational, helping others to understand the community, where the key part of the strategy has been to also evolve the community and to provide a voice on issues that matter. To drive this message forward they have an LGBTIQ+ Ambassador, Trip Managers and teams undergo diversity training whilst they've found the confidence to take a stand on issues that matter - such as a stand against Qatar, rather than a passive ignorance as many choose to do.


This is also a question of representation, where ensuring better representation through diverse imagery is an important commitment to ensure marketing better represents its audiences, whilst partnerships are all helping to drive this commitment forward further.


There is also a clear business opportunity here too, where Contiki has developed a number of bespoke trip opportunities for the LGBTIQ+ market.


Storytelling People


This also took thinking further, where they came up with storytelling initiatives to provide cultural education. They developed an initiative called Warrior Women with Travel Alberta which is the story of a Warrior Woman.


This beautifully shot video focuses on her identity and the journey, what it takes to raise a warrior woman. The video offers a documentary style perspective on the responsibility to tell the story of the indigenous people of Canada not through a book but through human interaction.


In the video, which powerfully conveys this one woman's story, the beauty of nature comes together with the beauty of the history of indigenous people.


Creative Partnership


The learning from working with destinations like Tourespana and Travel Alberta there are clear opportunities for destinations to find partnerships where they themselves may find it difficult to convey the same message and story with the same level of authenticity.


The opportunity to hand the creative voice over to others also can be very powerful in challenging what are perhaps traditional images of the destination by letting other communities play with it.


Likewise, Travel Alberta that trust in storytelling allowed them to both tell this story and develop a more authentic experience, which has been key to developing an offer which is more authentic and offers a positive impact.


Choosing the right Ambassadors


At the start of each year, the team actively identify where they are looking for ambassadors, to represent different communities and priorities within the company.


When they seek ambassadors, they also want them to live and breathe Contiki by sending them on trips to fully understand the brand and the experience. They then function not as 'subjects' in a video, but as true collaborators to help ensure the brand gets it right and reflects those they are involved in it.

Key Takeaways

  • Make diversity a priority - not just in content marketing but across the business.

  • Try not to jump on trends around certain days, sometimes they offer hooks but ensure the message is authentic and year-round.

  • Seeking experience from people within the communities you're representing, involve them in the process, open it up and consider the power of listening.

  • Communities can teach us a lot, taking time to learn from others whether it's the LGBTQI+ community or indigenous communities.

  • A strategy that goes beyond marketing is critical, it has to touch on the very core of our brand, our values, our product and the overall offer. Conversations about how to do more is very important to have within the business.
Published on:
December 2022
About the contributor

Lottie Norman

Contiki