Meet Martinique aka “Marty.” The 31-year old Oakland native has made it her mission to fight for more travel and tourism brands to feature more people of color. We spoke with her about this mission and why it is important.
Give us your take on the current face of tourism and major travel brands?
The face of tourism is rapidly growing and changing. With factors like the Black travel movement and millennial travelers driving the industry, it can only change for the better. Although numbers don’t lie, travel brands and tourism boards still haven’t caught the wave of diversity, and it’s immensely frustrating. I’m tired of not seeing myself reflected when I look at ads and promotions knowing my travel dollars matter. I feel like I was put on this earth to advocate for black and brown travelers globally and I won’t stop until I change the face of tourism forever.
Why is it important for brands to use more black and brown faces?
Studies show that 70 percent of black and brown travelers book accommodations and travel experiences with companies where they see themselves reflected. With diversity and inclusion being pushed like never before, brands would want to ride this wave so they don’t drown. Black Americans spend $50 billion on travel, Mexican Americans spend over $56 billion, and Muslim travelers by 2020 will account for $157 billion. Brands have started to make the shift, but the biggest issue is awareness. Every traveler needs to realize they have a voice and if they feel some way about representation with a brand that they are loyal to, they need to speak up. I’m the type of traveler who will write the CEO and say, ‘you said X, Y and Z and I still haven’t seen that reflected, what’s really good?’ I actually did that last year with the Four Seasons Hotel and got a response and an apology.
How are you changing all of this?
Marty: As a diversity-in-travel advocate and digital disruptor, I use my platform through social media to speak about the diversity issues this industry faces. I also make it my duty to be at the travel and tourism tradeshows and events. Everyone wants a seat at the table, and sometimes you have to provide your own seat. I’m fearless in the pursuit of advocating for black and brown travelers. I position myself strategically to ensure I can ask a question at the end of your lecture, or I meet you to express my concerns. Those free events travel companies have; I will get on a plane in a heartbeat because I know I will be the only person who looks like me there and I dress to impress and sit in the front row.
Just the other day, an amazing travel influencer brought to my attention an email that had been released about a popular travel show. In the email, not one person of color was reflected, and it has been happening for years. I got their number, called, and let them know my frustration. I always approach these situations with facts and statistics because when they know better, they do better.
What inspired you to get into this type of work?
I eat, sleep, and breathe travel. As an African-American female, I was tired of seeing one kind of influencer or traveler being put on a pedestal. I’ve worked with amazing travel companies that have allowed me to move freely in my pursuit of changing things. This industry is actually pretty small, everyone knows everyone and has crossed paths or will at least once. Getting to know people and still seeing the same kind of traveler reflected, when you know for a fact there are other resources, starts to eat away at you. There are so many great POC travel content creators. We all deserve a fair chance at ”influencing” and inspiring tourist globally to live their best life through travel.
Where can we find you on social media?
On IG and Twitter, I can be found @Marty_Sandiego and on Facebook as Martinique Lewis.
By DeAnna Taylor