Travel is inherently political. The ability to move freely within the world is a privilege not afforded to all, and it is a fact that travel is not safe for everyone. You might follow us for our guides to the national parks, outdoors, or road trips—types of trips that have not always been safe for all travelers, and which continue to be inequitable due to systemic racism, bias, and oppression.
As a travel publisher, we recognize the impact of our decisions, from which destinations we cover to how we cover them. And we know we have an obligation to both travelers and the communities they visit to promote tourism in an ethical and inclusive way.
In 2020 it became abundantly clear that steps we had been taking behind the scenes to increase the diversity of our authors, partners, and content weren’t enough. We firmly believe that change requires accountability, and this page is a living document to inform the travel community how we are supporting underrepresented and/or historically excluded travelers.
Our ongoing steps include:
- Using digital platforms like our website, consumer newsletter, and social channels to actively and continuously highlight underrepresented voices and communities, including paying diverse creators to share their travel experiences and tips on Moon’s blog. We have developed a standardized rate sheet that fits with our budget for micro influencers to allow us to be more transparent and equitable and ensure we are not paying people of color less than white influencers.
- Diversifying our network of influencers to include more Black travelers, people of color, and/or LGBTQIA+ individuals. In 2021 we have sponsored campaigns with travelers representative of the following: Black: 4 (22%), NBPOC: 6 (33%), White: 8 (44%), LGBTQIA+: 2 (11%), Disabled and/or chronic illness: 6 (33%), Diverse body types: 8 (44%), Neurodivergent: 2 (11%)
- Optimizing digital content for accessibility with alt tags for images and captions for videos.
- Updating our series guidelines to prioritize inclusion of Black-owned businesses and resources for travelers of color. We are also doing sensitivity reads for top titles, addressing the experiences of oppressed and underrepresented people, and working with our authors to center perspectives that have been historically excluded.
- Sourcing photos for our books that better reflect the diversity of US travelers. Our production team is partnering with influencers to widen our scope of representation and add more images featuring travelers of color and LGBTQIA+ travelers. We want to show, visually, that travel is for everyone, and that the outdoors is open to all of us.
Travel is a valuable way to explore culture and expand our horizons. We invite your criticism, thoughts, and ideas to improve our coverage. Use the form at the bottom of the page or send us a direct message on Instagram or Twitter @moonguides at any time.
Acquisitions - In 2021, the Acquisitions department signed 9 new book contracts of which 2 are with authors of color, and commissioned paid authenticity/sensitivity reads for 5 upcoming revised edition guidebooks.
Editorial - Moon’s editorial team continues to work on increasing the inclusivity of our books. One of the major ways we’re doing this is by helping authors add information and resources for travelers of color, LGBTQ travelers, and travelers with disabilities. We are also working with authors and freelancers to ensure the language of the text is as inclusive as possible. We’re continuing to update and develop our in-house style guide, so that it exists as an evolving document rather than a static one.
Production - In its continued efforts to provide visible representation in our photo selections, the Production team in a joint effort with the Marketing department is rolling out a new initiative to features photos from micro- and nano- influencers in the travel and outdoor space. We are working with 2 travelers of color and 1 queer couple to pilot this initiative in 2022. In addition to continuing conversations with stock photo agencies about the diversity of photos we'd like to see, we have also enabled a modest budget to source photos directly from travelers. Production also committed to working with more diverse designers in 2021, seeking out new-to-us talent via Drawing While Black and other directories featuring portfolios from people of color and other underrepresented groups.
Marketing - In 2021, Marketing did not use any outside agencies and worked with 11 influencers of color and 10 white influencers. We ensured that amongst this group we had LGBTQIA+, diverse body types, disability or chronic illness, and neurodivergent voices represented and prioritized.
As in the past, our usage of photos featuring people is limited, however, as we have always done, we ensure that our advertising includes travelers of color at least 50% of the time. In 2022, we are aiming to diversify this further with photos that depict hikers and nature lovers at different sizes and with various mobility devices.
Acquisitions - In addition to signing a new author of color for a US destination, our Acquisitions team has updated its editorial style guidelines to no longer italicize non-English words. Authenticity/sensitivity reads are continuing for top titles, with books chosen based on our top sellers, and readers chosen based on demographics in the area covered (i.e. a Latina reader for our Arizona guide and a Black reader for our Tennessee guide).
Marketing - Marketing continues to meet its goals with 4 out of 5 sponsorships in Q2 2021 going to influencers underrepresented in the travel industry: 2 travelers of color, 1 traveler in the LGBTQIA+ community, and 1 wheelchair user.
In 2020, the Acquisitions department signed 19 new book contracts of which 3 are with authors of color. Acquisition editors have also begun commissioning authenticity readers to review top-selling US guides, with a focus on titles that have racially diverse populations.
Our Production department is actively working to include more photos of people in our guides and providing guidance for authors and staff on how to procure more diverse photos of travelers without tokenization or othering.
Editorial has updated its in-house style guide with an addendum that covers inclusive language while the Marketing team has finalized its standardized rate sheet and put it into practice. We’ve found the rate sheet successfully providing an equitable field for micro influencers we work with. Marketing also hit its Q1 social media goals around promoting and amplifying diverse voices, however much of this success comes from promoting Moon US Civil Rights Trail by Deborah D. Douglas which went on sale in Q1.
Below are some of the steps we’ve been taking since June and additional audit information. We will be updating this information on a quarterly basis. For other inquiries about our diversity and inclusion goals, please reach out to us via the form on this page.
Acquisitions - No updates at this time.
Editorial - The Editorial group is intensifying our review process at every stage, with the goals of reassessing the coverage of problematic historical sites and centering non-white perspectives that have been ignored. Book by book, we’re guiding our authors in addressing the problematic narratives around historical sites and working with them to address the experiences of oppressed and underrepresented people. More widely, we’re working to make all our guides more inclusive by adding more resources and tips for travelers of color and LGBTQI travelers, as well as more comprehensive and strategic information on accessibility.
Marketing - We have completed the audit of our Marketing materials. As expected, much of our content featured landscapes not people, but we are committed to including more photos featuring Black travelers, taken by Black photographers, or highlighting Black business owners as we move forward.
User Generated Content in 2019/2020: Additional audit information: Moon’s marketing team has reached out to Instagram users to feature traveler photos and quotes on the interior of our book jackets since late 2018. Of the 90 non-staff members who participated in 2019 and YTD in 2020, 4 were Black travelers (4.4%).
Influencer and Content Marketing 2020 YTD and 2021 plans: We have added another Black traveler to our core group of influencers. Our core group is now represented by 19% (3) Black travelers, 31% (5) NBPOC travelers, 50% (8) white travelers. In 2021, we hope to increase the number of BIPOC we work with regularly, and we have set specific goals around content marketing pieces highlighting underrepresented groups across our social channels and in our consumer newsletter.
Moon’s Marketing team is also developing a standardized rate sheet that fits with our budgets for micro influencers. We hope that this will allow us to be more transparent and equitable when reaching out to underrepresented travelers who may not have their own rate sheets or have worked with a company before and ensure that we are not paying BIPOC less than white influencers.
Production - The production team has narrowed its focus on the books currently in layout and in upcoming seasons. We have made the choice to intentionally include more photos of people. To do this, we are sourcing images featuring travelers of color, and are partnering with influencers to widen our scope of representation. Our aim at the moment is to get 1-2 images featuring BIPOC per book, and more where possible. We want to show, visually, that travel is for everyone, and that the outdoors is open to all of us.
In conjunction with the Black Travel Alliance’s call for travel companies to volunteer their information, and as part of our own efforts to audit and assess where we’re at with our efforts to diversify our content, here are a few numbers from our marketing and acquisitions teams with regards to Black voices:
Acqusitions - Moon is currently working with 3 Black authors (out of approximately 120) and holds a standing contract with 1 Black freelance editor (out of 9).
Marketing - Paid Influencer Marketing - 2 of the 16 influencers Moon worked with directly in 2019/2020 are Black. In 2019/2020 Moon’s marketing team also contracted with an outside agency (Mediavine) to connect us with travel influencers. None of the 21 influencers we contracted through Mediavine were BIPOC.
Paid Advertising - Our trade advertising in 2019 & 2020 has only used photos of places with no people depicted. Our consumer advertising was overwhelmingly photos of places, however we are still in the process of auditing this content to assess how many ads featured people.
Trade Shows - We attended four events with our authors. We had 1 Black author out of 9 total authors on stage across these events.
You can read our original commitment statement in support of Black Lives Matter and travelers of color here.