Beth Santos, CEO and Founder of Wanderful; Karisma Shackelford, Director of Wanderful Creators

Beth and Karisma Diptych

Left: Beth Santos; Right: Karisma Shackelford

Courtesy Beth Santos; Jonathan Gomez

Initiative: Wanderful’s “Moving Forward: An Anti-Racism Townhall for the Travel Industry” series

Over the past 11 years, Beth Santos has grown Wanderful from a blog dedicated to helping women travel safely into a global community that hosts events for over 45,000 female travelers, travel influencers, and travel professionals worldwide.

In this time, Santos has seen the industry become more inclusive of women, but she still considers it far from perfect. “Many of these experiences still focus very heavily on the experience of white women, disregarding our many intersectionalities of race, age, body type, sexual orientation, and beyond,” she said.

When the Black Lives Matter movement gained momentum in the spring, Santos sat down with Karisma Shackelford, the founder of Color Me World, who works part-time developing programming for Wanderful content creators. The two brainstormed ways to discuss the movement with their members at a time when much the industry remained silent.

Within weeks, they launched Moving Forward: An Anti-Racism Townhall for the Travel Industry. The three-part virtual series created a platform for Black creators, allies, and brands to discuss actionable steps to foster anti-racism in the travel industry. Over 200 members and industry representatives attended the first session.

Santos and Shackelford have planned two additional town halls for October 17th and early 2021. They have also launched an anti-racism reading club and a new sub-community for members called BIPOC Women of Wanderful. Next year, the company plans to launch a global hosting network so women and gender-diverse people have safe and trusted spaces to stay in when they travel.

“This awakening and empowering time that we are in is demanding change, and those that don’t change will find themselves going out of business like Blockbuster did back in 2010,” Shackelford told Business Insider.

“Wanderful has always been at the forefront of discussing topics that others often felt was too challenging to address. This is one of the reasons why I have always loved this community, and Beth, the courageous and badass woman who leads it,” Shackelford said. “Society has habitually silenced women and people of color, and Wanderful has always given a voice to the disempowered.”

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