By Tracey McGhee, founder of Ms. Jetsetter, LLC and member of NAWBO Chicago
In 2019, I launched a travel accessory line for women and before the world shut down, I attended a trade show in the travel goods industry. It was my first trade show as an exhibitor and I was showcasing my brand and products to the travel industry for the first time. Once my booth was set up, I decided to wander around to get the lay of the land. It also gave me an opportunity to visit other vendor booths, to see who else was there. I was somewhat surprised when I realized there were just two African American exhibitors—out of over 200.
That experience prompted me to take deeper look into the industry and I uncovered some interesting statistics. African American travelers brought in an estimated $63 billion in 2018 to the travel industry, up from $48 billion in 2010—and the numbers are expected to continue to grow. Despite the dollars spent, representation of travelers of color is very limited across the spectrum of the industry, from mainstream media to founders of physical products. There are a number of factors that serve as roadblocks to achieving greater diversity, but we are gradually seeing a shift.
The importance of diversity and inclusion can’t be overstated. It fosters new ideas, perspectives and experiences. It also allows for better problem-solving and creativity. Equally important is that people want and need to see themselves in the spaces in which they’re occupying and spending their dollars. I’m grateful that I’m able to serve as a voice in this industry and will continue to do what I can to help elevate the voices of other people of color in this space. I’m constantly on the lookout for opportunities to collaborate with other women of color whether it’s through collaborations or simply highlighting other businesses in the travel industry.
We absolutely have room to grow in the travel industry and many others, but we can see a shift. This scenario simply underscores the importance of bringing awareness of the gaps, and then doing the work so that we can all “take off”!
About the Author
Prior to COVID, as a frequent traveler, Tracey McGhee experienced the challenges many women face when trying to stay organized on-the-go. On several occasions, she arrived at her destination only to find her necklaces tangled, or she packed multiple cases for her makeup items. Staying organized was often a struggle.
In an effort to solve some of these problems, she launched Ms. Jetsetter – The Ms. J Brand, a line of travel accessories for women. Tracey has also donated over 300 PPE kits to communities of color, which have been disproportionately impacted by COVID.
Tracey lives in Chicago, Illinois, with her husband Rob and loves music, wine and community service. She is a member of the Chicago chapter of NAWBO.