Black travel has clearly become a phenomenon, and we’re seeing the evidence of it all over Instagram and on social media, but surprisingly (or not), the travel industry and destinations domestically and abroad either haven’t taken notice, they don’t care, or all three - they take the Black travel spend for granted. It’s estimated that the African-American community spends about $50 billion annually on travel and leisure with a large chunk of that spend coming from Black women. However, the travel industry spends very little marketing to the Black community in comparison to how aggressively they spend targeting white travelers, millennials, Baby Boomers, and other groups.
The industry in general makes the assumption that Black people want the same experiences from a destination when we travel, and they usually miss the mark for our desire for cultural fit. Often times, Black travelers find themselves in travel experiences that are completely customized for the white consumer. We find subtle hints of this when we enter our hotel suites and find that even the shampoo doesn’t speak to who we are or that the main highlight at a resort is laying out poolside in the sun.
As a viable and lucrative travel audience, it’s time to leverage this powerful spending power to influence and make demands of the industry that they put us top of mind. And having a multicultural department isn’t enough...especially when the department lacks true diversity among your senior leadership and creative team.
All sectors of the travel industry should make the conscious decision to more authentically connect with the Black audience, and in particular, Black women since that’s who’s driving the bulk of the Black travel decisions and spend. For starters, the industry should spend more with Black media, and not just to appease these outlets with ads, but to create custom content and experiences that would resonate more deeply with their consumers. Ads in general market media could also use more diversity so that it speaks to more than one segment of America. Destinations also need to be more inviting, welcoming, and appreciative of Black culture in the same way that they’re vying for the booming Asian travel market. It’s also important that destinations customize their experiences to speak to us from a cultural perspective.
Ultimately, the industry needs heads in beds, airline seats filled, resort activities fulfilled, and money spent in volumes by the Black community as Black travelers are among the last growth target for profitability. This is a call to the industry to take Black travel dollars more seriously and for Black travelers who have committed to discovering the world to demand that the industry as a whole finally recognizes our spending power and that they treat our dollars with more respect.