RRT StaffCopyright: Michael Simon Photography

Every day, Richmond Region Tourism invites visitors from diverse experiences and backgrounds to get to know our region better.

As we welcome groups and meetings to the region, this work is especially important: We know it’s vital for everyone to feel welcomed, valued and respected.

Two years ago, RRT launched its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force, a group of team members focused on advancing DEI to drive positive change both internally and externally, and to guide the organization’s priorities. It’s work that makes our organization stronger and better.

As tourism groups across the world work to solve DEI challenges, here are a few lessons from Richmond Region Tourism’s efforts.

Hire an expert
Becoming a DEI specialist takes educational training and experience. To create a successful DEI program, it’s essential you engage a consultant or agency that’s well-versed in DEI strategies to be a part of your organization’s work. You can find local consultants by searching online – but make sure to ask for references and experience.  

Local DEI experts also are great resources for implementing trainings for staff, to help the people within an organization to understand concepts such as unconscious biases, inclusivity and disability awareness.   

Engage the team
For a DEI program to work, you must engage internal employees. Consider creating a cross-functional DEI team to guide the process and to communicate across the organization.

RRT established its DEI Taskforce to review destination peers and assess data. The team established three core priorities that guides RRT’s internal and external work today: advancement and retention, staff education and business impact. 

Ask for feedback
As they say, you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Working alongside RRT’s consultant, the organization surveyed staff for their experiences. This feedback, along with research of peer destinations, helped inform our plan and priorities.

Share your commitment
It’s important that staff, the community, stakeholders and clients know about your DEI work. We include our DEI commitments in newsletters, on RFPs and will include information on a forthcoming webpage.

Update and learn
DEI programs are always evolving – so should your plan and commitments. As we get smarter about people’s experiences, barriers and other challenges, it’s important to update DEI strategies.

We care about the people in our community, and about DEI programming in our industry. What recommendations do you have making tourism DEI programs stronger? Get in touch with Lauran Peoples, RRT’s Director of Sales Marketing & Business Development at lpeoples@visitrichmondva.com.