Tapping Travel Success: Multicultural Marketing

Jul 23, 13 Tapping Travel Success: Multicultural Marketing

As the travel industry booms during the summer months, multicultural marketing reveals itself as their secret recipe. The minority market reality has companies, especially those associated with travel, leveraging the growing minority population with new marketing strategies. In 2010, the American Hotel and Lodging Association published “The Power and Opportunity of the Multicultural Markets,” which argues marketers should recognize the rising minority population and their purchasing power. Travel industry leaders have caught on and have implemented various multicultural marketing strategies in recent years. Hispanics—the fastest growing minority population which may become the United State’s majority population by 2043—lead multicultural travelers; however, they are not the industry’s only minority focus. Travel companies have also directed successful campaigns towards the African American, Asian and LGBT communities. While the successful travel campaigns are unique, their success unveils the minority population’s power.

“The proof isn’t just in the pudding, it’s on the planes,” said George L. San Jose, president and chief creative officer at The San Jose Group. “The travel industry recognizes to the multicultural community drives some peaks in the summer months, and they have blazed successful trails for other industries to follow their success by tapping into multicultural markets.”

Here are three effective travel campaigns geared towards diverse populations:

Orbitz en Español

In 2012, Orbitz noted the digitally savvy Hispanic consumer group who prefers to utilize the internet when booking their travel.Almost half of the Hispanic population would rather use apps or the internet to purchase tickets or make reservations, according to a 2012 Redmas poll. However, prior to last year, Spanish speaking Orbitz customers had to book their reservations over the phone, while English speaking customers were able to utilize Orbitz’s website and app.

In October of last year, Orbitz launched Orbitz en Español the first full-service, Spanish-language travel website and accompanying app offering online or app reservation bookings. According to Orbitz, “Fifty-six percent of U.S. Hispanics are Spanish-preferring and moving to book on mobile devices at a rate three times faster than the general population.” Being the first to offer Spanish speakers an online alternative to telesales gives Orbitz not only a leg up, but a whole demographic-up, on the competition.

American Airlines/BlackAtlas.com

American Airlines attempted to tap into the African American market with the website, “BlackAtlas.com.” The company marketed the site as the primary source of information for “sophisticated African American travelers.” BlackAtlas.com endeavored to showcase desirable destinations to travelers, using prominent members of the African American community (Nelson George and Laz Alonso). The spots targeted the 54% of African Americans who prefer to take trips that involve the “finer (expensive) things in life.”  In one video, George, visits Madrid and explores the best place to find a great haircut.

Four years after Black Atlas’ inception, the airlines redesigned and rebranded the site. On July 3, 2013, American Airlines introduced the new site, “aa.com/blackatlas,” replacing the micro site BlackAtlas.com. The airlines also dropped the “sophisticated African American traveler” tagline in favor of “Celebrating Black Travel and Community.”

The new site indicates a fresher approach that offers members of the African American community a more inclusive experience, featuring new tabs that enhance the cultural content. For instance, “Inspired Service,” points out the cultured selection of African wines American Airlines offers in-flight, and “In Our Community,” outlines the organizational work American Airlines does within the African American community.

Although the two sites bear almost the same name, the latter is more culturally driven and effectively attempts to reach all members of the African American community, not just the “sophisticated.”

Marriott Hotels 

In October 2012, Marriott Hotels launched an ad campaign titled, “For You, We’re Marriott.” Marriott tailored each ad specifically to a wide range of multicultural markets. The campaign sought to demonstrate the company’s breadth by creating targeted ads reflecting minority populations including African-Americans, Hispanics and members of the LGBT community.

Because controversy typically surrounds the inclusion of homosexuality in ad campaigns, companies at large have managed to ignore marketing to the LGBT community, in order to avoid stirring the pot. However, with the LGBT community now owning 5% of the total domestic travel population, 10% of total domestic travel spending and is expected to own over 17% of the total population by 2020, they have earned the right to be acknowledged.

For the LGBT outreach, Marriot included a popular Lady Gaga lyric, “You Were Born This Way,” in their ad. The insertion demonstrates Marriott’s sincerity, while avoiding the forced feeling that sometimes accompanies multicultural ads.

Joanna Todd, Vice President, Segment Strategy for Marriott, said “We believe smart messaging resonates with our customers. In this latest multicultural marketing campaign, our intention is to celebrate frequent business travelers and recognize that their expectations are as diverse as they are.  The campaign puts a human face on business travel, for the men and women who stay with us every night.”

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