Everyone in the hospitality industry strives to make others feel welcome and comfortable. We, as an industry, desire nothing more than for customers to walk away with the best experiences in customer service. It’s at the heart of what we do, and it is always satisfying to know that the team is achieving goals and making positive strides.


Having a DEI Plan is a necessary step for the future of hospitality – recognizing and celebrating people from different backgrounds, life stages, abilities, and cultures. It’s a healthy way to be more intentional with making sure that everyone is represented and reflected in your company’s culture, marketing, and communication strategies. If you don’t already have a DEI Plan (or even if you do), it might be time to review where your company is with modernizing practices and motivating staff to recognize the benefits of elevating DEI as a priority.


This past March, Visit Lake Charles hosted Travel Unity Southeast, and below are some takeaways that might help with crafting or updating your DEI plan as well as a video with highlights from the conference.



Here are some practical steps toward building and modifying DEI in your company:


  • Getting started requires a healthy dose of curiosity about wanting to understand your team members, customers, and community. It begins with conversations, fact gathering, and empathy.


  • Take an anonymous poll of your staff's background and reveal the results to the team. You'll see how diverse the group either is or isn't, and where your organization's blind spots may be. To have a well-rounded team, you need different perspectives and abilities at the table. There might be ways that your company can more effectively reach others and provide missing services to be more inclusive.


  • Another way to champion diversity is to utilize services from minority-owned businesses and ensure diversity in how you conduct business from a vendor standpoint. Create a system to analyze which companies are utilized so that diversity can be championed.


  • Make sure that your company has Collective Ambition which is an all-encompassing mission fueled by purpose, strategy, and values. What are your company’s values and mission statement, and how do they reflect the values of the community and your customers?


  • Borrow from other DEI Plans when creating your own. You don’t have to recreate the wheel when it comes to DEI. There are plenty of companies that have made great strides in this space. Find a company that aligns with your goals and ask if they will share some of their best practices with your team.


  • Practice “CLIF” in your company. This stands for Collaboration, Leadership, Innovation, and Fun. There is no particular job title tied to collaborating, leading, innovating, and having fun. However, this type of environment has to be prevalent for people to feel comfortable sharing and being themselves. Once people are able to share freely, new ideas can generate positive results!


  • Take an inventory of marketing materials, online presence, social media, videos, commercials, and written communication to see where you can be more inclusive and intentional with how your company presents itself and represents people from different backgrounds, ethnicities, life stages, abilities, and cultures.

Visit Lake Charles hopes that some of the tips included in this blog can lead to setting your company up for success with a solid DEI Plan. Should you have questions or need more guidance, e-mail Timothy Bush, Chief Marketing Officer at Visit Lake Charles who also chairs the DEI Committee for the Louisiana Travel Association and co-chairs the DEI Committee for Destination’s International at tbush@visitlakecharles.org.