Courting Hispanic Travelers

The hotel industry has some catching up to do when it comes to targeting the burgeoning Hispanic population. It's a market that can't be ignored. Hispanic-Latinos are now the largest minority group in the U.S., with 44.3 million people as of July 2006 — that's 14.8 percent of the total population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

But be careful. There isn't a one-way-fits-all-type of approach when it comes to reaching out to Hispanics, as this segment represents numerous racial backgrounds and nationality differences.

“Efforts in marketing to Hispanic-Latinos must be based on an ‘in-culture’ versus ethnicity alone,” advises Raul Fuentes, emerging markets director, Choice Hotels International.

To that end, a marketing information company called Cohorts has researched the Hispanic ethnic group and discerned 19 segments, ranging from affluent grandparents and working-class couples, to educated career-oriented moms and low-income single women. It, too, cautions clients against targeting Hispanics as a singular, generalized audience; rather, “We offer our segmentation services to break down the population and enable targeted, relevant marketing communications,” says Cohorts VP Mike Fitzpatrick. “With such diversity in terms of the marketplace segments' level of acculturation and associated consumer behavioral attributes, it is impossible to target the entire Hispanic population effectively using the same message.”

InterContinental Hotel Group's Holiday Inn brand hotels are actively marketing to the Hispanic traveler in partnership with alPunto Advertising, a Hispanic ad agency in California. The latest TV campaign will be used in the brand's expansion of its Hispanic program, reports IHG spokesperson Stephen Boggs. “The next phase will be to use online to reach the Hispanic traveler as online usage grows year after year among this target.”

The Holiday Inn campaign, written and produced by alPunto Advertising and produced in Argentina, consists of a series of 15-second commercials designed to feature a single advantage that connects strongly with traveling Hispanic families.

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