Popular travel blogger Jessica Nabongo has accused a Four Seasons hotel of racial discrimination.
Nabongo, who boasts 21,000 Instagram followers and runs her own travel agency, reached out to the Four Seasons Resort Nevis in St Kitts to try and organise a complimentary stay in exchange for promoting the hotel on her social media accounts.
However, the influencer received a response from the hotel declining her proposition and explaining that her “demographic [is] not in line with our brand”.
In a separate email, the Four Seasons further clarified that they feel Nabongo’s travel photography does not speak to a “luxury brand clientele”. The hotel adds that Nabongo does not have a significant overall reach of followers to justify the complimentary stay.
Nabongo, 33, expressed her outrage in an Instagram post, writing: “The travel industry is and always has been predominantly white. The confirmation that they are purposely shutting us out is hurtful. We have got to use the power of our dollars and tell these brands that we won’t stand for them making us invisible. They say that my ‘demographic is not in line with their brand’, but still offered me the opportunity to spend my money. No thanks.”
The Ugandan-American also wrote a more detailed article on Medium about her exchange with the hotel, titled: “When Travel Companies Don’t Believe ‘Black’ Means Luxury.”
I’ve been to 106 countries, have 20K followers, have been offered comp stays at 30 hotels, featured in @Bloomberg and @CNTraveler. This is a first. The @FourSeasons Saint Kitts have told me that they looked at my profile and my “demographic is not in line with their [our] brand” pic.twitter.com/JH81QXlaaR
— Jessica Nabongo (@TheCMIYC) January 9, 2018
Nabongo writes: “For anyone who spends time on Instagram making bucket lists from different accounts, you will notice that the biggest travel influencers are all white, but beyond that, you will notice that accounts with large followings that promote travel, but are independent of brands, are also overwhelmingly white.
“I asked myself is this blatant? Are they leaving us out purposely? Or are we being excluded because they simply do not think about us, in a non malicious way.”
The blogger was clear to state that she understands it is entirely the Four Seasons’ prerogative to offer her the marketing opportunity.
She continues: “My experiences are accessible to all as long as you can see me merely as a traveler. Not a black traveler, or a female traveler or an American traveler or an African traveler or a young traveler, but simply as a traveler. One with extensive experience and the ability to translate these experiences across racial, gender, generational, and cultural boundaries.”
Nabongo earned much support from her Twitter followers, with one weighing in: “There is such a smarter way to send a ‘no thanks’ letter. They dug their own hole by saying demographics & then claiming you had too few followers.”
But not everyone agreed as another countered: “Seems like the made a choice. They don’t feel your brand aligns with theirs. You and your followers may not agree but there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with this choice [sic].”
Do you believe that Nabongo was discriminated against? Or are you accept the Four Seasons’ response?
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The Maldives is sublime and I think the biggest reason is the one island, one resort concept. The country is 500 miles in length and is comprised of over 2000 islands of which 200 are inhabited. Of the 200, 100 of them are resort only Islands. I fully intend to visit the Maldives, every year for the rest of my life. Feel free to join me!! 📷 @eltonandersonjr #catchmeinthemaldives
I arrived in Sri Lanka today, my first time in South Asia, and we hit the ground running. We headed straight to Kandy to check out the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. While the elephants were very beautiful, I was not a fan of the fact that some elephants were in chains. The elephant that I am pointing at, who started posing for the camera, is one of the elephants in chains. She was using her trunk to pull at the chains the entire time we were there. Honestly, many of the elephants didn’t look very happy and their keepers didn’t look happy either. Check out my IG stories for more. I would skip this orphanage personally. The elephant orphanage in Nairobi is phenomenal if you are looking for an ethical orphanage. 📷@eltonandersonjr #catchmeinsrilanka
2017 is one for my personal record books. I took 131 flights, flew 189,725 miles, spent 461 hours and 51 minutes in the air, hundreds of hours in cars, trains, buses and boats. . . . . . I visited 53 countries this year, 38 new, I visited all six continents four of them more than once! I spent 81 nights in Detroit (home) which is a mere 21% of the year. I spent nearly four months in Africa on five separate trips, which by far was the highlight of my year. I wish I could shout out all of the amazing souls that I met and those I spent time with this year, it is a lot, too many. My take away from 2017 is DREAM OF THE LIFE YOU WANT, CREATE IT, THEN LIVE IT and watch the universe work its magic. Cheers to 2018! . . . . . My fave moments of the year starting from January (scroll up to find them all!): bringing in NYE in Cabo with the homies, rest and relaxation in Bali, celebrating @eltonandersonjr birthday in Morocco, snorkeling in Grenada around the underwater museum, kissing giraffes in Kenya, samosas in Lamu, Lake Assal in Djibouti with @ashleymoselydickens, white water rafting down the Nile in Uganda with Ash and Rosie, an incredible birthday safari in the Serengeti with @fsserengeti, the beautiful beaches of Zanzibar at @whitesandvillas, dinner in Belgrade with some very cool Serbians, exploring Tunisia with @faten_bo, a crazy road trip through the Balkans with Ash and Rosie, falling in love with Macedonia and Bosnia, Cuba, because Cuba, volcano boarding in Nicaragua, a last minute flight to the Maldives with @eltonandersonjr, the Taj Majessica in India, the immense kindness and peacefulness of people in Nepal, a house party in Joburg the day I landed, via @sasyrae, where I met so many dope people, a helicopter ride over Cape Town, hanging out on top of Victoria Falls with @moniquesdomain , Namibian road trip adventures with @romangianarthur and @wes_walker_, an epic trip in Sudan, arriving at centuries old ruins and there is barely a gate. . . . . . Of my 2017 trips, which was your favorite? #catchmein2018