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Is There Plus Size Diversity In Travel Marketing? #PlusSizeTravelToo

March 14, 2019

Is There Plus Size Diversity In Travel Marketing? #PlusSizeTravelToo

March 14, 2019

Do you ever put off writing something because you know that realistically as one lone person with very little influence, you really can’t make that much of a difference?

And if you put your all into doing actual research, it’s probably going to make absolutely no impact what’s so ever?

Well, I’ve put off writing this post for longer than I can even remember for that exact reason. I’ve started writing this million and one times, contemplated pitching it to bigger media outlets and even shared my shocking research with my friends to see what they thought.

Finally, I’ve decided I can’t take it anymore and I HAVE to speak out. 


Disclaimer: Before I get started, I want to point out that the intention of this post isn’t to start a hate campaign towards any UK travel brands. The point of this research is that to hopefully reach brands, and for them to be aware of what they’re doing (and that they can make changes that could potentiality help them reach a market that is often too scared to travel). As the study is on the travel industry as a whole and I was taking 10 companies as a sample, I will not be naming any specific names. 


So what is the blog post all about?! 

I’m guessing the title has probably given it away, but a couple of months ago I decided to do some research into the representation of plus size people in travel media.

I took 10 of the biggest travel agents, tour operators and airlines in the UK and individually analysed their marketing materials to determine whether or not I thought plus size people were well represented. After all, plus size people travel too, right? 

The media and marketing materials I looked at were travel brochures, websites, social media accounts and any advertisements or videos they may have created. I also looked briefly into their influencer marketing, if they had carried any out over the past 12 months or so.

I was as thorough as I could possibly be, making sure I checked a similar sample from every single travel company. In some instances, some of the companies I looked at didn’t use certain aspects of marketing – all of which I have made note of in the spreadsheet I was using to track my research. 

To be honest, I don’t know what I was expecting when I decided I wanted to start this project, but I was definitely hoping I would be pleasantly surprised by what I found. That was definitely NOT the case.

What I actually found that there was absolutely no diversity at all and 95% of the marketing materials in my sample were filled with slim-white-happy-same-sex families. There were NO plus size travellers, NO travellers with a disability, very few travellers of colours and little to none single or same-sex families. 

Whilst I would LOVE to be able to cover all of the topics in detail, I don’t feel as though I am in the best possible position and for the purpose of this post I want to focus on the plus size travel industry specifically.

Okay, so where does the 5% come from?

Having done extensive research on each of the brands I used in my sample, my results showed that only 5% of their marketing strategy featured plus size people. Where is that 5% from exactly? Influencer marketing. 

Whilst brands are not featuring plus size people in their tv adverts, their brochures or on their social media – they do appear to be working with a number of plus size bloggers when it comes to press trips and gifted stays. Of course, this isn’t anywhere near as frequent as it is with straight size bloggers, I feel like I can call this progress for the most part.  

What I feel hasn’t improved when it comes to plus size influencers in the travel industry is the diversity in group press trips. Whilst I have attended a number myself, the majority are still filled with the same people creating the same content.

But Kirsty, why is all of this important? 

Although I understand that this may seem like a very small issue and if you’re booking a holiday or trip, marketing materials and representation is not the first thing on your mind. Whilst that may be the case, for a lot of people – me included – feeling as though you are represented is vital when making a decision.

Imagine flicking through a brochure or scrolling through a website and seeing only straight sized people. As someone with body confidence issues, it’s hard not to feel as though you’re going stick out like a sore thumb throughout your entire holiday. You won’t want to go to the pool, you’ll feel self-conscious on excursions and a night out would feel like a nightmare. Personally I felt have felt all of these things, and more, when travelling. 

Whilst I was doing my research I decided to ask plus size people (size UK 16+) whether or not they would be put off booking a trip if they felt they weren’t represented in the brands marketing materials and 39% of people said yes, they would*.

In response to this question, I also had a couple of people reach out to me to say that they have cancelled trips after booking as they felt they weren’t represented within their marketing. One person, in particular, told me ”me and my partner were supposed to be going on a tour and were initially cautious due to being the higher end of their age limit, however,  we were excited to go and meet more people. After researching the company more and delving into their social media/promo material I felt that I wouldn’t be comfortable on their trips, I’m an able-bodied, medium fat, and still there was no one that reflected me in any of their advertising, in any of their guides, and I felt due to this I wouldn’t feel comfortable and would feel out of place in group activities so I cancelled our trip and self-planned instead”. 

I also asked straight sized people (below size 16) if they would feel put off travelling with a company that uses plus size people in their marketing and 91% of people said no**. The general response was that people feel travel companies should show a range of sizes in marketing materials – whether it be online, on social media or in their brochures. 

What does all of this mean?

Whilst I don’t want to make presumptions, the research that I carried out has definitely shown me that due to lack of representation, travel brands could actually be missing out on a whole audience. I regularly get messages from people telling me that they are not confident enough to travel and I can’t help but feel that if they felt as though they were represented in the industry, they’d feel much more inclined to book that dream trip.

When people tell me that seeing me travelling and doing the things they’ve wanted to do has encouraged them to travel, imagine the effect a major travel brand featuring plus size people in their marketing could have? 

I am just one person and I know a travel brand would have SO MUCH more influence if they were to start creating diverse campaigns that represented a wide range of people. Ultimately, it could increase spending power for them, encouraging plus size people to book with them due to the diversity they champion.

What can you do to help?

I know change can’t happen overnight and if I am honest, I am not expecting anything as a result of this post because I alone do not have the power to make a difference. Basically, I need your help. 

Luckily, there are lots of ways you can help this information and my message reach the right people. Whether you consider yourself plus size or not, you help could make all the difference.

  • If you haven’t already, please share this post on your social media channels. Whether it’s sharing the Facebook post, Retweeting it into your Twitter timeline or mentioning it in your Instagram story. Tag @kirstyleanneuk and @plussizetraveltoo and I will thank you a million times over.
  • Follow the @plussizetraveltoo account on Instagram to show brands the WE DO HAVE POWER when it comes to travel marketing and that we too create incredible content whilst travelling.
  • Use the #plussizetraveltoo hashtag to help gain momentum on the Plus Size Travel Too campaign. The more people talking about this the better. I want people to see us and recognise the power we have. 

As much as I wish I could make this change alone (mainly because I’m far too proud to ask for help at the best of times), change won’t be made unless people start to highlight the issue at hand.

If there is anything else you think you can do to help me spread this message, please do not hesitate to get in touch to let me know.

*results taken from a sample of 198 people
**results taken from a sample of 187 people
  • Jess March 14, 2019 at 6:30 pm

    This is such an amazing piece Kirsty! It’s so shocking that there is no diversity, or is it? Because let’s be honest, it’s something we’ve always known.

    Major love and a very proud friend.

    xoxo
    Jess
    The Crown Wings | UK Travel & Lifestyle Blog

  • Simone Ribeiro March 14, 2019 at 8:44 pm

    Thanks for sharing it, Kirsty. You are being the voice to many of us that already knew there is no diversity. That is very brave of you to put together such an interesting research. As a plus size woman myself and traveller, I feel the pain.
    Thanks again. I will share it on my social media.
    xx

  • Darren starkey March 15, 2019 at 3:48 am

    What a great read. Keep up the good work

  • marie aygat March 15, 2019 at 4:08 pm

    Great inspiring post !I never seen big sizes ladies or gents on those travel marketing stuff …a long way to go still .

    http://www.mariesconnections.com/

  • Francesca Wellman March 16, 2019 at 10:57 am

    This is a fantastic post. The lack of representation in the industry is an issue – I’m never sure whether at size 16 I can really count myself as plus size but I still feel noticeably bigger than the majority of the influencers you see getting the big opportunities. We do live in an age where we are led so much by what we see on our feeds and in marketing materials – the fact that not everyone can see themselves in those situations is wrong.

  • Laura Lovette March 20, 2019 at 4:01 pm

    When will the media learn that we want to see diversity all around?! Hopefully some change will come from this article. I’ll be sharing a link to it in my weekly recap post on Saturday, it’s not much but I hope it helps get the word out 🙂

    https://www.lauralovette.com/

  • I'M KIRSTY LEANNE

    My mission is simple. I want to help change the way travel looks, showing both brands and society that plus size people really do travel too. In a community where plus size travellers are made to feel unwelcome, I want to inspire and advise people like me on how they can make the most out of their own incredible travel experiences.Join me as I share my own personal experiences, my best tips and tricks and all of the challenges I face along the way. It won’t always be an easy ride, but it sure as hell will be a fun one.

    Together, we can change the way that travel looks today

    WHAT TO EXPECT

    Instagram

    • AD | Gifted 💫 Happy Saturday! I’m going to be spending my weekend doing some housework, making my garden look pretty and trying to find ways to convince my boyfriend to take some new outfit shots for me. If there is one thing he hates, it’s being behind the camera even though he’s actually really good at it. For those of you that manage this on a regular basis, please please share your tips (I already offered a meal out, so that’s out of the question) 😂🤞🏻
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❤️ Jumpsuit gifted by @dorothyperkins
📸 @unwrittenchloee #plussizefashion #plussizeootd #plussize #psblogger #psbloggers #plussizeblogger #plussizeblog
    • AD | Discounted 💫 I am FINALLY getting around to writing some of my Trek America content and I’m getting super emotional reliving all of the amazing things that we did! As much as I love my home comforts, my dream would be to spend a couple of months getting Greyhound buses between as many States as I possibly can! With 9 already ticked off my list, I still have some exploring to do.... 🗺🇺🇸❤️
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So, who is coming with me? 😏🙌🏻
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❤️ My @trekamerica Trip was Discounted in return for content #trekamerica #trekmoment #itrekhere #visittheusa #nashville #nashvillemurals #nashvillemural #thegulch #thegulchnashville #nashvilletn #nashvilletennessee #visitnashville #nashville_tn #nashvillegram #instanashville #nashvillelove #plussizetraveltoo #plussizetravel #travelinclusivity #fatgirlstraveling #fatgirlstravelling
    • AD | Gifted 💫 It’s been a long time since I posted a carousel post on Instagram but I felt like the Kennedy Space Center definitely deserved it. I mean, just look at all of those incredible rockets 🚀
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Do you ever have those places where you’ve wanted to visit for as long as you can remember and then they exceed your expectations, even though you didn’t think it was possible? That was the KSC for me. It’s been just over a month since I visited and I still can’t stop thinking about how incredible the different exhibitions were. From learning about incredible American astronauts and driving around launch pads to seeing immersive replicas of both failed and successful launches, it really was an experience I’ll remember. I 100% left feeling like I could achieve anything ✨🛰
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❤️ My tickets to The Kennedy Space Center were gifted to me by @kennedyspacecenter #ksc #kennedyspacecenter #thekennedyspacecenter #kennedyspacecenter🚀 #kennedyspacecentervisitorcomplex
    • AD | Gifted 💫 For years I have been looking lustfully at all of the cute play suits in stores thinking that I’d never be able to wear one. Not only would they not suit me but oh my gosh, can you imagine the chub rub?! I’d written them off and decided that I’d stick to jumpsuits instead 🤷🏼‍♀️
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I don’t know why, but when I found out I was going to Garorock Festival I decided that if I was going to wear a playsuit, now would be the perfect opportunity. It was going to be 41 degrees and if anything, I could pass it off as festival fashion if it didn’t look right. I ordered two, one from @missguided and one from Boohoo 🙌🏻
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As you can see it DOES suit me (I think) and the chub rub? NON-EXISTENT. I’m definitely a playsuit convert and now wondering what other clothes I have written off without even giving them a chance! Co-ords? Dungarees? Bodycon Dresses? What should I try next?! 😏👇🏻
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❤️ Playsuit gifted by @missguided
❤️ Bag gifted by @boohoo
❤️ I was invited to Garorock as a plus one, so I was under no obligation to post #Garorock #festival #festivalfashion #plussizefestival #psoot #psbloggers #psblogger #psblog
    • AD | Gifted 🌈 Do you ever find a dress that as soon as you put it on, it’s all you want to wear for the rest of the summer?! 🙊
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This candy coloured sundress from @yoursclothinguk is definitely THE dress of the summer for me, especially as it’s the coolest linen material ever. It’s been so so comfortable on days where it’s hit 30 degrees (or 41, like it did in France) ☀️☀️🙌🏻🙌🏻
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P.s. please ignore the sun burn, apparently factor 50 every half an hour was STILL not enough for my ginger skin 😭🤦🏼‍♀️ #yoursclothing #yoursclothinguk #psbloggers #plussizebloggers #plussizeblog #plussizeootd #stylehasnosize #plussizefashion
    • AD | Gifted 💫 I’m definitely still recovering from the weekend but it was so so worth it as I go to go to my first ever festival. The four-day Garorock festival in Marmande consisted of lots of beer and Aperol, an endless supply of glitter, incredible music and non-stop dancing. ☀️🎶
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Highlights include reliving my childhood by seeing @sum41, dancing to @djsnake on day 3, discovering the amazing @christineandthequeens, listening to @twodoorcinemaclub and realising I know way more songs than I thought and the INCREDIBLE headline that was @macklemore. I’ve still got no voice because I sang and screamed so much 😂🙊
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As far as festivals go, Garorock was a great first choice. It was INCREDIBLY clean (look at the lack of rubbish in my photo) and it was all pretty contained and easy to get to. Not only that, but the crowd were amazing. I’m a little worried I may have been spoilt and I’ll have a bit of a shock at my next festival, but there’s only one way to find out, right? 😂🙌🏻
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📸: @absolutelylucy
❤️ I was a plus one on this trip, so under no obligation to post
❤️ Dress and bag gifted by @boohoo @boohooplus #festival #festivaloutfit #festivalinspo #plussizefestival #festivalfashion #spacebuns #garorock #garorock2019 #playsuit #romper
    • I’ve had a little bit of an Instagram break the last five days as I’ve been living my best life in France at my FIRST EVER festival! 🙌🏻🎉
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Although I would have loved to get the full festival experience by camping, the heat was hitting the 40’s most days. Luckily we had our very own Gite to stay in, fully equipped with a pool and all the wine I could drink. Clearly, I took full advantage of that🥂🍾
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The festival wasn’t my only first this weekend, as this is also the first time I’ve ever worn a bikini! Despite the fact I come across as confident on Instagram, I still get self-conscious when I’m putting myself out there. I was DEFINITELY not feeling it at first, but after a bit of encouragement from @danniellelily and @absolutelylucy I felt so much better. I feel as though I’d built wearing a bikini up to be this massively scary thing for me when really, it’s not *so* bad. Here’s to way more bikinis in my life 🙌🏻
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📸 @absolutelylucy ❤️ I was invited as a plus one on this trip, therefore had no obligation to post
❤️ Bikini bought from @prettylittlething who I have worked with in the past #bikini #plussizebikini #bikiniseason #bikinilovers #plussizebikinis
    • AD | Gifted ❤️ Did you know when it comes to the collaborations that I do, I pitch 90% of the work I have? Whether it’s pitching a product to feature, a press trip to go on or a paid post for my blog - I’m a huge fan of going out and finding my own opportunities. Whilst I know a lot of people are scared of the thought of pitching, it’s one of the main reasons l was able to leave my job and go full-time. It’s also taken me to places like Croatia, Belgium, Lanzarote and France. I’ve worked with INCREDIBLE brands, and I want everyone else to be able to do the same too 🙌🏻
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If you saw my stories a couple of weeks ago, you will have seen that I launched the #bepitchperfect eBook - the ultimate guide to pitching products, payments and press trip. The guide goes into detail about all of the preparation you need to do before a pitch, ways to overcome your fears, a five-step strategy that works for me almost every time and how to stay on top of all the people you’re pitching. I also tell you how to personalise each pitch depending on what you’re pitching. It really is that detailed! 🙊💫
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At just £10, it’s honestly an absolute bargain for those looking to take their blog to the next level. It’s been launched less than a month so far and I’ve already had people message to tell me some of the amazing collaborations they’ve secured thanks to my guide! 🎉
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I’m so sorry that this post may have come across a little salesy, but as you can tell I’m incredibly passionate about pitching and how it can help your blog grow. If you’re interested in purchasing the eBook, there’s a link to buy in my profile bio. If you think you know someone who may be interested, please feel free to tag them below! 🥰🥰
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❤️ Jacket gifted from @fashionworlduk
❤️ Skirt gifted from @primark
❤️ Lace body gifted from @missguided
❤️ T-Shirt bought from @levis #plussize #plussizeootd #plussizefashion #psbloggers #plussizebloggers
    • AD | Discounted 💫 As soon as I booked my Trek America I started planning all of the places I wanted to visit in each location, including the #whatliftsyou mural in the Gulch, Nashville. Nashville has TONNES of murals dotted around the city, but this particular one designed by @kelseymontagueart is very very popular. In short, Kelsey has designed all of the #whatliftsyou murals to encourage people to talk about what inspires them. Of course, I couldn’t miss out on an opportunity to do the same...
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✨ Traveling to new places and experiencing incredible new adventures inspires me to create new content, as well as to face my fears.
✨ My friends and family inspire me on a daily basis - whether it’s to do the best I can or to appreciate what I have. Seeing them do incredible things makes me want to do incredible things too.
✨ My boyfriend inspires me to achieve everything I’ve ever wanted to, as he’s always cheering me on and telling me I can do anything if I work hard enough.
✨ YOU! Each and everyone one of you inspire me to do the best I can when it comes to Plus Size Travel Too and travel marketing.
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What inspires you? 👇🏻
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❤️ My trip with @trekamerica was Discounted in return for content
❤️ Dress is bought from @boohoo however I have worked with them previously #whatliftsyounashville #whatliftsyoumural #nashvilletennessee #nashvillemurals #nashville_tn #visitnashville #visittennessee  #nashvillegulch

    FOLLOW MY ADVENTURE

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    • Hi! It’s me! We’ve had quite a few new followers over here so I thought I’d tell you a little bit about me, the creator of the @plussizetraveltoo movement! 🙊🙌🏻
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My name is Kirsty Leanne (@kirstyleanneuk) and I’m a plus size travel blogger from the UK! I have loved travelling for as long as I can remember and have been blogging about travel for just over two years (and specifically plus size travel for officially 6 months). I like cats, peanut butter and programmes about serial killers. 
As I started to become more confident with posting photos of myself of my social media channels, it became more and more obvious that I didn’t have a place in the travel industry. Nobody wanted to feature a fat girl on their platforms or in their press trips. As time went on and it started to get to me more and more, the idea for Plus Size Travel Too started. Not only is this a community for plus size travellers to get advice from people just like them, but it’s a way to show brands that plus size people do actually travel too. In the long run, I want PSTT to help brands see that they should be showing plus size travellers in their marketing materials, as well as advising them on how they can make adjustments that can make travel a lot more comfortable for plus size people. 
I want to inspire plus size travellers, just like me, to travel and have the best adventures they can. Often people let the fact they’re plus size they can’t travel and hopefully, Plus Size Travel Too will help show people that that’s just not true. 
I can’t do it alone, so I am thankful for each and every one of you helping me along the way ❤️💫
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