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Black Travelers Are Focus on Nov. 11

Day set aside to celebrate diversity and culture in travel

By Kathy Gibbons

Nov. 11 marks the first annual National Black Travel Day. || Photo by Jacob Lund, courtesy of Adobe Stock

The inaugural National Black Travel Day is Nov. 11. Described as “a day for Black travelers and travel professionals to celebrate diversity and culture in travel,” the celebration will kick off with a private launch event in Miami, Florida.

Black Travel Summit designated Nov. 11 for the formal observance conceived by the summit’s founder and CEO Anita Francois. It encourages participation by supporting a Black travel professional or organization, or highlighting the actions a company has taken to promote workplace diversity. Founded in 2019, the Black Travel Summit is dedicated to building an empowering and inclusive environment for the Black travel community via events that are held throughout the year and include an annual conference.

“This is a day for Black travelers and travel professionals to celebrate diversity, our impact, future, and culture in travel,” according to the National Day Archives.  “It is an homage to the Black travel movement; a reminder for our allies, our supporters, but also for ourselves that diversity in travel isn’t a trend that ends, it’s necessary for a brighter future for all who travel.”

U.S. Black travelers spent $109.4 billion on domestic travel, or $129.6 billion internationally, in 2019, according to a 2021 study by MMGY Global titled, “The Black Traveler: Insights, Opportunities & Priorities.” Created on behalf of Black traveler advocacy organizations to identify the needs, behaviors, and sentiments of the Black travel community, the survey polled Black leisure travelers in the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, and the U.K./Ireland.

The report showed Black travelers notice how destinations and travel service providers approach diversity, which influences travel decision-making. For example, 54% of U.S. Black travelers agreed they are most likely to visit a destination if they see Black representation in travel advertising; many of the other countries’ respondents felt the same. Those polled also signaled that destinations should be perceived as safe for Black travelers.

“We’ve suggested to clients that, whether or not you feel intentional investments are ethically important for meeting the needs of underrepresented traveler audiences, the fact is that it’s a significant traveler audience and a huge business opportunity for those who can do so effectively,” says Chris Davidson, executive vice president for MMGY Travel Intelligence. “Second, we learned that travel service providers need to demonstrate a sustained commitment to meeting these needs.”

While portraying a more diverse scenario in advertising campaigns is important, Davidson says, it’s not enough in and of itself. “A more credible commitment would include things like building long-term relationships with a diverse industry press and relevant influencers, supporting Black travel organizations, investing in content and local cultural experiences, and more.”

MMGY Global CEO Clayton Reid observed that the report’s findings, combined with continuing demand among Black travelers for diversity and equality, should cause the travel industry to sit up and take notice.

In a 2021 study, 54% of Black U.S. travelers said they’re more likely to travel to a destination that demonstrates Black representation in advertising. || Photo by S Fanti, courtesy of Adobe Stock

“Companies should be prepared to demonstrate their moral and ethical commitment to ensuring Black travelers are given the service and hospitality that they so rightly deserve,” Reid said.

Net proceeds from sales of the study were donated back to travel advocacy organizations that MMGY partnered with for the study. Black Travel Alliance, the National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals, and the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators & Developers each received 10% of the more than $101,000 generated. The remaining 70% funded grants for Black travel organizations and content creators.

“We’ve continued to commit 100% of the revenue generated from report sales of these studies to nonprofit organizations whose missions align with the subject matter,” Davidson says. “While we don’t have data that shows a specific return on these investments, our selection of these partners gives us confidence that the monetary donations we’ve made, alongside the insights revealed in the research, have had a substantial impact.”

Davidson says it’s important for marketers to gauge sentiment among underrepresented traveler audiences to make the overall travel experience more inclusive and rewarding for all. MMGY has also surveyed members of the Latinx and LGBTQ+ communities, as well as people with disabilities and others.

“We’ve consistently seen that travelers truly value diversity when it comes to the destinations they choose to visit—cultural diversity, culinary diversity, etc.—and they seek out destinations that offer diversity in the visitor experience,” Davidson notes. “So, we think it’s important to reveal important insights … to ensure there’s continued support for, and investment in, this area from travel service providers everywhere.”

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