A market segment you can’t afford to ignore
 
A market segment you can’t afford to ignore
26 JULY 2013 8:03 AM

Hispanics are the largest minority in the U.S. and boast the second-highest rate of smartphone penetration of any race or ethnicity.

If there’s one thing hotel marketers have gotten darn good at, it’s segmentation. While a certain degree of segmentation (read: targeting a distinct consumer base) has always existed, today marketers are able to discern niches within niches to deliver relevant, actionable messaging to yield higher rates of conversion.

Some of these target groups are quite large: women, African-Americans or members of the LGBT community.

Others border on the esoteric: Harley Davidson motorcycle riders, for instance.

But one group I rarely hear much fuss about is Hispanic-Americans. The demographic numbers more than 50 million in the U.S., or 16.9% of the total population, making it the largest minority in the country, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

What’s more, this group travels. A lot. In 2007, there were an estimated 16.2 million Hispanic adult leisure travelers who took a combined 50.4 million domestic and outbound trips, spending $58.7 billion, according to the most recent data available from the U.S. Travel Association.

But rarely do I hear industry executives or marketing gurus talk about the importance of reaching them.

For those who do want to stake a claim in this underserved segment of the population, let me suggest the following channel: mobile.

More than 25 million Hispanics—or nearly half of the entire demographic’s population—will be using smartphones by the end of 2013, according to eMarketer. And Hispanics have one of the highest smartphone penetration rates among all U.S. races/ethnicities, second to only U.S. Asians. But Hispanics blow their Asian counterparts out of the water in terms of sheer numbers, besting them at a rate of three to one.

Also important to note is how Hispanics are using their smartphones as it relates to the hotel booking funnel. Nearly 24% of these travelers “almost always” use their mobile phones to search for a hotel before traveling, according to an April 2013 study from Social Lens Research and mobile gaming company MocoSpace. Approximately one in six “almost always” books hotels via smartphone before taking a vacation, and nearly one in seven said they purchased hotel rooms pre-trip through a mobile app.

Diverting just a fraction of existing marketing budgets to target this group seems like good-ol’-fashioned common sense to me. But then, if it was common, I guess everyone would have come to the same conclusion.

Now on to the usual goodies …

Stat of the week
$13.9 billion: Lost revenue for independent and boutique hotels last year, according to a 2012 report from PwC.

The staggering number was cited in a Bloomberg Businessweek report describing a new booking platform that allows travelers to bid on rooms at the kind of upscale boutique hotels that rarely turn up on big travel sites.

Quote of the week
“Do you really want to cut your best employees to 29 hours to avoid having to enroll them?”
— Jay Kirschbaum, practice leader with Willis National Legal & Research Group, advising against recharacterizing full-time employees as part-time employees to avoid paying extra costs under ‘Obamacare.’

The Affordable Care Act might have been delayed, but that does not mean hoteliers should put planning for implementation on the backburner.

Reader comment of the week
“The crazy stuff spinning around was an entire industry compelled towards price fixing. Now at least some common sense is filtering back in.”
Reader “skooshhotels” responding to allegations of price fixing in France.

Email Patrick Mayock or find him on Twitter.

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