No Need to Shun Vacations

Randall Anderson
March 20, 2012 — 1,744 views  
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Making Tracks in the Travel Industry

According to the U.S. Travel Association, in 2007, there were an estimated 16.2 million Hispanic adult leisure travelers who took a combined 50.4 million domestic and outbound trips and spent $58.7 billion on their travels.       

Casas, Frye, and Arce researched Latino Immigration and Its Impact on Future Travel Behavior and found how the growing Hispanic population directly impacts the travel industry.  It was found that the recent and future growth of the [Hispanic] population has drawn the attention of companies across the U.S. - companies are building marketing strategies specifically targeted at [Hispanics] to increase its share of this multi-billion dollar market. In addition to its impact on the product consumer market, the healthcare system, and schools, the future growth of this population will no doubt have an impact on the U.S. transportation infrastructure as well. 

Airlines, hotels and other sectors of the travel industry are taking advantage of this growing population and are aiming to understand outreach logistics.  In September 2011, American Airlines took the first step and launched Aprendi.com, a first of its kind social media site that caters to Spanish-speaking travelers.  Not only does this site help Spanish-speaking individuals learn about popular vacation destinations around the world, it allows Hispanic travelers to share photos of their destinations and connect with each other.  Through sites like these that utilize Facebook and Twitter, vacationing is encouraged regardless of the economic state.

Other networks like the American Society of Travel Agents and the National Tour Association are joining together to learn how travel agents and travel packagers can address this growth market. In fact, on January 25, 2012, ASTA and NTA hosted a webinar on “Understanding the U.S. Hispanic Traveler” to examine the behaviors of Hispanic travelers and explain how travel professionals can serve the market.

Owning to Sell

It is clear that the travel industry is starting to recognize the power of the growing Hispanic population and is aiming to learn more about how to reach this important sector. An article by TranslateMedia stated that recent research into the Hispanic consumer has revealed a distinct set of purchasing values.  For instance, Hispanics are generally very close to their families, and are liable to purchase a product that will benefit the entire family as opposed to the individual.  This mindset extends to vacationing.  When Hispanic consumers plan vacations, their planning is geared toward traveling with the whole family as opposed to traveling as a couple or by oneself.    

The following is best to know when addressing the Hispanic travel market:

1.       Learn Spanish

Knowing the language or at least conversationally understanding the basics of Spanish will serve as an immense step in the right direction.  Appealing to your audience means literally speaking to and understanding your audience.

2.       Present Spanish Options

Whether you are a travel agency or a vitamin store, it is best to visually appeal to your customers. If you have a website, present an option to read the site in Spanish or be able to speak to a Spanish speaker who can more effectively help a Spanish-only customer.  This extends beyond the virtual network.  Be physically bilingual by showcasing information on posters, brochures, or otherwise in both Spanish and English so you know you are reaching more than one target demographic.

 3.       Be Experiential

Business travel and leisure travel may be viewed interchangeably in the Hispanic community—Hispanic business travelers are often accompanied by family members.   Rochelle Newman-Carrasco from AdAge wrote about the “Hispanic Experience”. Even for Hispanic themselves, it was mentioned that your personal Hispanic experience does not define the entire U.S. Hispanic experience, so make sure you educate yourself by exposing yourself to the similarities and differences of Latinos across the country, living in urban and rural segments, affluent and not, in Spanish and bilingually. Travel outside of the U.S., too. See how that compares and contrasts to what the U.S. Hispanic experience is all about.

4.       Utilize Social Media

“Hispanics spend an inordinate amount of time on social media and really trust what people say in this media. A travel agency can use social media to foster brand and customer loyalty with personable and relevant messages.  And this is not costly.” Kelly McDonald, How to Market to People Not Like You

Own what you or your business is selling and you’ll attract a more diverse base of clients. Understanding the travel industry is just the start of your journey to expanding your clientele and becoming culturally sensitive.

Randall Anderson

Listen Up Espanol

Randall is a dynamic professional with more than 15 years of leadership in service industry operations and account management. He holds a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Wyoming.