Part of being successful in business is knowing how to identify a pain point in your industry. Lawrence Phillips, CEO and founder of Green Book Global did just that by creating the first Black travel review site. Some want to know before booking that flight or cruise whether X country or city is reasonably safe for Black people. This stems from good sense, not paranoia. Thanks to the internet, The culture can share their good, bad and ugly travel experiences like never before.
“If someone were to say, ‘why can’t a Black traveler simply use Trip Advisor?’ I would say that reviews don’t reflect guest demographics,” Lawrence told Travel Noire. “We live in a time where unconscious and conscious bias is prevalent, so the experience of a white person will likely be different from that of a Black person. Many employees alter their level of service based on their own preconceived notions. Therefore, having a Black person say that a destination was amazing, or this excursion with this tour guide was excellent goes a long way because I know that this person looks like me.”
Lawrence was born in Massachusetts but you might hear a Bajan accent now and again. He knows from experience how toxic burnout can be, but the birth of his business was the silver lining. After nearly a decade as an IT consultant and having to travel between Atlanta and San Diego weekly, Lawrence was running on fumes. In 2015, he quit his job in pursuit of world travel. When globetrotting, there are two things he can’t do without: his cell phone and hair clippers, just in case the overseas barbers can’t measure up.
“While traveling I noticed two things,” Lawrence said. “One, it takes a really long time to plan for a trip and two, I was nervous going to certain destinations not knowing how I would be received. In Paris, I ran into a Black woman at a hostel and mentioned that I loved chocolate. She said ‘you should go to Belgium.’ My question was one many Black people ask: ‘is Belgium safe for Black people?’ She assured me it was fine and the next day, I went to Brussels. I really needed that co-sign from another Black person and if I didn’t run into her, I assure you, I would not have gone.”
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SOURCE: TravelNoire, Spencer Jones