Black Meetings and Tourism

September/October 2014

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As the demographics of our nation slowly but surely evolve and the "browning of America" forges forward without pause, I continue to be baffled by how many supposedly astute marketers are way behind the curve when it comes to targeting this new and growing majority. In my view, by ignoring the burgeoning multicultural market, especially the nearly $60 billion African-American niche seg- ment, destinations, hotels, airlines and cruise lines, among others, are leaving tons of money on the table. They are missing the boat, as one of our upcoming features explores, because they don't know who's on the boat. When possible, I always choose to give folks the benefit of the doubt, so let's just assume these misguided marketers don't know the African-American market as well as they think they do. For instance, I doubt they know that one of the most resilient segments of group trav- el business – family reunions – is domi- nated by African-Americans, who are responsible for over 80 percent of all fam- ily reunions held annually. Or that the National Brotherhood of Skiers, an organ- ization of Black skiers, is the largest ski PUBLISHER'S MESSAGE Solomon J. Herbert Publisher/Editor-In- Chief E-Mail: club in the world and annually presents the largest ski event held anywhere. Likewise, I'm sure they are not familiar with the Essence Music Festival, which takes place in New Orleans every July 4th Holiday weekend. This year 550,000 people attended and the festival generated a whopping $230 million for the city during its three-day run. Or that African-American organiza- tions (like Tom Joyner's Fantastic Voyage aboard Carnival, or Blueworld Travel's Festival at Sea aboard Royal Caribbean) have been filling chartered mega cruise ships for years. There are the many African-American associations and organizations that hold large and small meetings each year. For instance, how many know that the Deltas – the venerable Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, founded in 1913 – held the largest luncheon ever in Las Vegas that was attended by 25,000 well-heeled sisters, and that they went on an arranged shopping spree while in town and literally emptied the shelves of a major upscale department store? Or that organizations like the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) attract as many as 35,000 attendees to their Holy Convocations, which in turn can have an economic impact of $35 million on the local econ- omy of the host city? Of course, all African-American organizations don't hold citywide conferences 100 percent of the time. Many of the larger groups plan more modest regional, local and board meetings, while a whole array of other associations typically have self-contained meetings with 350-500 delegates in attendance. And then there are those that fall somewhere in between the huge super meetings and the smaller gatherings, like the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Sales Network, and the National Bar Association. The point is there are many African-American organiza- tions, meetings or events that are a perfect fit for your state, your city, your hotel or your convention center. But if you don't actively and aggressively go after these important and significant pieces of business, you will lose them by default. It's that simple. Those who have been actively courting the African-American market will continue to get the lion's share of the business while you let it slip through your fingers and get little or none of it. So the choice is up to you. If you value the African- American market, and want to grow your share, then become proactive and go after this niche with the same gusto you use when targeting the general market. If you don't, your share will only decline further as the demographics continue to change, and the browning of America marches onward. B M & T ••• September/October 2014 ••• 4 Black Meetings & Tourism is published bi-monthly by SunGlo Enterprises, 20840 Chase St., Winnetka, CA 91306-1207 •Telephone: (818)709-0646/Fax: (818) 709-4753 Copyright 2014 by SunGlo Enterprises. All rights reserved. Single Copies, $6.00 Subscriptions $45.00. Postage Paid at Pasadena, CA. •Postmaster send address changes to Black Meetings & Tourism, 20840 Chase St., Winnetka, CA 91306-1207.

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