43 minutes | Oct 28th 2020

Episode 203: DEI in Travel and Tourism, with Greg DeShields

Greg DeShields currently serves as the Executive Director at PHLDiversity a business development division of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau.

As Executive Director of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau PHLDiversity, Greg is responsible for developing and implementing plans, strategies, and initiatives specifically designed to raise Philadelphia’s image as a diverse multicultural destination leading to hotel room nights and economic impact for the region.

Greg is a graduate of Johnson & Wales University Providence, Rhode Island, with an A.S. Degree in Hotel & Restaurant Management; and B.S. Degree in Hospitality Management.

His professional development includes a certification from the Institute for Diversity, Urban League of Philadelphia, Leadership Forum, Leadership Philadelphia, and Greater Philadelphia Leadership Exchange.

Destination on the Left is joined by Greg DeShields, the Executive Director at PHLDiversity. PHLDiversity is a business development division of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau that develops and implements plans, strategies, and initiatives specifically designed to raise Philadelphia’s image as a diverse multicultural destination. During our conversation, Greg talks about why it is so important for businesses to create a strategy for diversity, equity, and inclusion in their organizations AND communities. Then he explains what it takes to implement the strategy for long-term results.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:
  • Greg’s journey into the travel and tourism industry
  • How multiculturalism has a financial impact on destinations
  • How DEI continues to evolve as time moves forward
  • Why DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) is a marathon, not a sprint
  • The business case for creating a DEI strategy
  • How to foster community participation and involvement for diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Why proactive strategy and planning is better for DEI than taking a reactive approach
  • How a collaboration between PHLDiversity and a local LGBT chamber led to new revenue and business for both organizations
  • How podcasting ties into the work that PHLDiversity does
The Expansion of DEI in Travel and Tourism

Greg DeShields is the Executive Director at PHLDiversity, a business development division of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau. He is responsible for developing and implementing plans, strategies, and initiatives specifically designed to raise Philadelphia’s image as a diverse multicultural destination leading to hotel room nights and economic impact for the region. During our conversation, Greg talks about why it is so important for businesses to create a strategy for diversity, equity, and inclusion in their organizations AND communities. Then he explains what it takes to implement the strategy for long-term results.

The Evolution of Multiculturalism

After Greg spent some time getting settled in his career, he started to understand the economic impact that multiculturalism had on destinations across the globe. But once he moved from the board of directors to a leadership position in PHLDiversity, he started working to expand the table beyond culture. It embraced all communities like women and LGBT, and DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) continues to evolve over the years. Now, Greg and his team are focused on eliminating barriers and creating access for people of color.

Creativity and DEI

Normally we talk about examples of creativity used to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the travel and tourism industry. But in this case, the PHLDiversity organization is an example in and of itself. The organization has been around for over 30 years, and in the late 1980s, Philidelphia was not known as a tourist destination. When Atlantic city started to gain notoriety, the city needed to find a way to engage diverse communities as gaming expanded. This led to the formation of a new organization that brought black voices into the discussion. Community participation has been a key part of their work to this day, and PHLDiversity continues to engage the local population in new and innovative ways.

Episode Transcript

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