Inclusion is the new buzzword, and everyone wants to get on board by making their trips inclusive.
As our industry stands on the selling point of diversity, it is essential that you incorporate a few minor changes to become more inclusive and be closer to that 5-star review!
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Five quick changes to make your tours more inclusive.
1. Make your research inclusive.
Yes, you are an expert in your area, and know all the nooks and corners, but are you aware of clashing heritage issues?
Well, now is the time to check!
Before explaining, do a little digging on the participants (or even better, ask them about their heritage!) and make sure you are fully aware of the heritage relating to the sites – and see if it contrasts or collates with the heritage of one of your participants.
I know this one sounds very obvious, but we have been taught a tweaked history of many places, so doing a little more digging can go a long way. This will help you avoid negative sentiment; it will also help you bond better with your guests who share the same heritage.
2. Ask about accessibility during sign-ups.
You have planned an extensive tour with exotic stops; however, you discover at the tour start that a guest has arrived with a wheelchair.
What’s better than an on-the-spot plan change?
A prepared plan!
If you have people signing up for your tour through your website, phone or even a google form, make sure you have a clear option where people can list their accessibility levels. Not only is this going to help you plan a better trip, but it will also seal your 5 stars on that review because you didn’t leave the individual behind!
Also, a word of caution, be careful and mindful of how you ask.
The question should not give them a vibe that they will be left behind if they disclose their issues.
An excellent place to begin is to have a text box with the question, “Please mention if you have accessibility issues. We want to know this to make sure we give you the best experience on tour”.
3. Ask before calling someone out.
You went to a heritage site, and you had done digging on your participants. Turns out, one of them shared the story of heritage, and now you want to make it personal for them.
Well, on the surface, this might look like a good idea to call them out by asking, “Hey Karen, how are you feeling right now since we have come to Chinatown?” – don’t!
If you want to make it personal for them and others, please ask them privately, or before the trip if they would like to share their sentiment or participate in the show-and-tell.
4. Re-examine your jokes.
Who doesn’t like a funny guide?
Keeping your guests laughing is a great way to achieve a 5-star review, but the stakes can be high if the joke backfires.
It’s important to re-examine jokes (even ones that might have worked in the past). Not because you alone are biased, and so at risk of causing microaggressions. I am just saying that we all are.
No matter how long you’ve been in the business, no matter how many 5-star ratings you’ve collected, do check your jokes regularly before you say them out loud.
A harmless sentence can carry ethnic sentiments, so avoid any potential assumptions or stereotypes.
5. Always ask before supporting.
If a guest came with crutches, or someone is heavily pregnant – don’t help without asking.
Yes, they need help, but if you give it without asking, they might be offended in thinking that they are weak.
What to do then?
“do you think it’ll be easier if I can help?”
“Would you like it if I help?”
No matter how good your intentions are, actions will always be perceived according to other’s sentiments.
Making these small changes on your tour will ensure that your guests feel the best while ensuring your 5-star rating!
Prachi is a diversity researcher and trainer aiming to develop inclusive skills in T&H staff. She has been an avid solo traveler and uses the experience to charge the discussion on everything DEI. With her involvement in World Women Tourism as a Diversity Strategist, Prachi aims to change how the industry has been traditionally unfair. For more information on working with Prachi, you can reach out via LinkedIn.