Melanin on the Map: The First Mobile Travel App for people of Color
Travel and experience, I truly believe, can be two of our biggest teachers. Travel of course, provides a change of scenery and some good rest and relaxation. This is always good for the soul if able to afford the opportunity. With that in mind Ashley McDonough created Melanin on the Map (MOTM), the first travel mobile application of its kind focusing on black and brown travelers.
Ashley McDonough in Jamaica Photos provided by MOTM
McDonough is a trained media professional who graduated from the prestigious Howard University. The first generation Caribbean American, her father is from Jamaica and her mother Dominica, is a published multi-media journalist who has worked with top companies such as Essence Magazine, Billboard, Ebony Magazine and Sirius XM Radio. In 2018, McDonough decided to leave the journalism industry to go into business for herself. In doing so she combined her passion for travel, storytelling and curating experiences, to create a platform and safe space for minority travelers.
Melanin on the Map was launched in July 2019 and serves as a one stop hub geared to making travel effortless and affordable for travel enthusiasts of color. “MOTM was always going to happen I was just not sure whether it was going to be an app or a website. It was years in the making” said McDonough.
McDonough goes on to add that “Being a first generation American, I would always go back forth to the Caribbean. So I had a very dual cultural upbringing and that was just my reality. Stemming from that, being a child, being introduced and exposed to different cultures, I knew I wanted to create a platform that connected like-minded people. The travelers of color, and people who wanted to experience more. Such a platform did not exist, there were other platforms that showcased pretty pictures and those type of things, but I really wanted to create actual experiences, both income opportunities as well as travel opportunities.”
Ashley McDonough in Puerto Rico
Before the age of 25, McDonough had traveled to over 10 countries. As their site states, MOTM is ‘dedicated to the travelers of color with a lust for life, the ones with a never ending desire to create lifelong memories, the ones who never let their circumstance limit their life experiences’. In addition to providing travel services it offers travel enthusiasts an opportunity to generate income. Since its launch, MOTM grew very fast, it has over 1,500 global certified travel agents on board and an audience of over 25,000.
In early 2020 the global pandemic hit and brought leisure travel to a screeching halt. McDonough already has a strategy in place for life post pandemic, that comes in two folds “Our two (2) main focuses post pandemic are that we are definitely going back to create safe one in a lifetime experiences for people of color. Travel is seen for the most part as a luxury and not a priority in our culture, in our community, I definitely want to change the narrative. Secondly, we are working with so many different hotels, villas and tour companies we want to bring back visibility and boost their revenue.”
Melanin on the Map’s mission aligns directly I believe with Caribbean Essence. As our slogan reads ‘Connecting locals and the Diaspora’, one of the major ways that happens is by travel. Traveling, engaging, and visiting the destinations we highlight, will enable you to experience the Caribbean’s essence for yourself.
Thinking of traveling, MOTM awaits to provide you a memorable journey.
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