Impact Publications : MICEBTN-73
Page 8 • MICEBTN - September 2019 comment Inclusion, diversity are a lot more than political correctness INCLUSION is fast becoming one of the key building blocks of successful meetings and other events as the MICE industry world wide comes to understand that inclusion and diversity are not just catchphrases but vital factor in the 21st century. Most PCOs have long applied these societal imperatives, largely from a ‘good citizen belief’ that all people are equal and all have the same rights. Such policy - even if sometimes largely unconscious rather than a documented strategy - has been strengthened by growing commu- nity awareness, media publicity, activism and, in many jurisdictions, legislation that sets clear rules. Some research has been done on inclusivity in meetings and events, mostly in the US. One recent research report, led by Meet- ing Professionals International in partnership with New York Uni- versity’s Jonathan M. Tisch School of Hospitality, saw nearly 1100 submit detailed responses to a call for input. Such a high turnout underlines the growing awareness of the need for inclusion. The industry is thinking positively (for the most part) and migrating to a proactive approach. True, there have been negative reactions to legal obligations that seem overly fussy or intrusive, but these are to be expected as attitudes evolve. There are awards, too, for inclusion and diversity. We reported in our e-news service back in June on the inaugural IATA Diversity and Inclusion Awards sponsored by Qatar Airways. Categories included inspirational role model, high flyer and diversity/inclusion team. The team accolade, won by Air NZ, points to the need to integrate inclusion and diversity into corporate culture. Research project findings suggest it is becoming more common to have a written diversity and inclusion policy in place. Ensuring meetings, incentive reward trips and other events are inclusive is not always easy. Some fall short, but others can seem to go too far, edging on the possibility of ‘going over the top’ to cover all aspects of inclusivity and diversity. But it can be simple, too. For instance, the MPI report suggest- ed that PCOs deal with the problem of introverted attendees at events by using technology to let delegates ask questions in alter- native ways, as well as assigning seating at lunch time to create new connections and reduce awkwardness. There is of course the downside that it is challenging to cover off all possibilities without bogging the event down. A registration form, for example, can’t get into minute detail without becoming a time-consuming chore for attendees and registration staff. But there are ways around such potential problems. We need to leverage the data we already have, including event feedback, while building experience in inclusion and diversity. - Kelvin King Virgin Atlantic keeps fingers crossed for new Heathrow slots system VIRGIN Atlantic says new slot allocation rules could help it add 80-plus routes from London Heathrow - if and when the airport builds a third runway. Heathrow’s expansion is due for com- pletion in 2026 and Virgin Atlantic says with added slots it could serve up to 84 new destinations, compared to its current 19. Currently Heathrow is dominated by British Airways owner IAG, but rules governing the allocation of slots are under review by the government. IAG holds more than 55 per cent of take-off and landing slots at Heathrow, with no other airline holding more than five per cent of the balance. KLM launches ‘train for plane’ initiative DUTCH airline KLM is opting for a high-speed train to replace one of its five daily flights between Amsterdam Schiphol airport and Brussels from March next year. “Intermodal transport involving trains and planes remains a complex and challenging business,” KLM presi- dent and chief executive Pieter Elbers said. “Speed is key, not only in terms of the train itself, but also the transfer process at the airport. We aim to make maximum progress in both areas. “Reducing our frequency from five to four flights a day is a good way of gaining more experience with air/rail services.” The move is partly in response to slot restrictions at Amsterdam airport and also part of KLM’s ‘Fly Responsibly’ commitment, which aims to create a sustainable future for air transport, and incorporates “all of KLM’s current and future efforts to improve the sus- tainability of its activities”. These include inviting consumers to offset the carbon emissions from their flights, and inviting companies to compensate for business travel by investing in the airline’s ‘Corporate BioFuel’ program.