Monday, August 24, 2015

5 Tips for Connecting With African-American Travelers

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Travel Industry's Most Overlooked Target

As the African-American community continues to grow in the United States, its influence and value to travel marketers follows suit.

When any demographic grows at breakneck speed--in both numbers and influence--marketers in all industries would be wise to take note. With buying power projected to reach $1.3 trillion by 2017, the African-American community is attracting travel marketers' attention.

Yet African-Americans are woefully underrepresented in travel advertising. Marketers need to connect by being inclusive in their offerings and their marketing. These travelers are much more conscious of where, when, and with whom they travel, but the opportunity for connection is already in place.

Here are five tips for connecting with African-American travelers:

1. Appeal to Their Sense of Community

African-Americans place a high value on family and community, tending to travel in groups. Target them with images of group travel, discounts for family trips, and messaging around shared experiences. For instance, you might launch a campaign focused on corporate trips, family reunions, or group getaways.

2. Feature Them in Design Collateral

Although they spend an average of $40 billion annually on travel, African-Americans are rarely featured as international travelers on television or in advertising. Instead, they appear as support staff or members of indigenous populations. The typical traveler portrayed is a 35-year-old white male, even though this is not indicative of the actual demographic breakdown. There is a wide-open opportunity for much-needed representation that will be noticed and appreciated by travelers.

3. Embrace Multiple Touchpoints

African-American vacationers are more likely to visit destinations where they feel welcomed and respected. Given the high media consumption patterns of the African-American consumer market, connecting with these travelers requires multiple media touchpoints.

Not only do they want to see themselves in creative materials as a sign of genuine inclusion, but they also want to be given an invitation to visit or utilize offerings. For instance, a personal discount code for a hotel stay or vacation package is a great way to build brand rapport on a personal level.

4. Dip Into Digital

The African-American community is ahead of the curve in utilizing video, mobile, and other interactive platforms. African-Americans tend to be avid searchers and researchers, particularly in the pre-purchase stage, with 72 percent using searches daily. This places SEO front and center in marketing efforts.

All Nippon Airways recently utilized keyword targeting, advertising to users specifically interested in travel and Japanese culture. It developed creative ads that resonated with that audience, including one Facebook ad that garnered a 25 percent click-through rate and positive ROI.

5. Make It Personal With Social

African-Americans use Facebook as their primary method of posting and sharing. The musical "Fela!"--based on the life of a Nigerian composer and activist--recently garnered an 877 percent ROI from a $4,414 Facebook ad campaign investment. The campaign boasted 5,717 clicks, a conversion rate topping 30 percent, and more than $43,000 in total revenue.

The African-American community also responds well to social influencers. With the rise of live-streaming social apps like Periscope and Meerkat--as well as Snapchat and Vine, which remain popular--brands can target influencers on multiple platforms to share experiences related to travel, accommodations, and the destination itself.

As the African-American community continues to grow in the United States, its influence and value to travel marketers follows suit. But to keep up with this high-speed growth pattern, marketers must also up the ante on their social and digital offerings to finally target these consumers.

This article was co-authored by David Scott, VP of media at Gravity.