Travel agent education about the Hispanic market along with cooperative marketing programs with major travel and non-travel companies are being planned by the ASTA-NTA Hispanic Business Development Task Force.
The task force, launched last December, aims to help both travel agents and tour operators serve the estimated $1.3 trillion annual Hispanic travel market.
The strategy was set at a two-day meeting of the task force during Mexico’s recent Tianguis in Puerto Vallarta.
The travel agent seminars will focus on the business opportunities in the Hispanic market as well as ways to reach out to Hispanic clients, task force chair Olga Ramudo told Travel Market Report. Ramudo, president of Express Travel in Miami, is a member of both ASTA and NTA.
The seminars will be offered at the ASTA Tradeshow in September in Los Angeles and at the NTA’s annual conference in Orlando next January.
Marketing partnerships “with major travel companies as well as non-travel companies involved in the Hispanic market” are also planned, said Ramudo.
“We are looking at well-known companies” both inside and outside the travel industry. Non-travel companies are being targeted for their expertise in marketing to Hispanic consumers and their synergies with travel marketers, she said.
Mexico is onboard
The Mexican Tourism Board sponsored the task force meeting at Tianguis. Mexico is involved because the destination is the top leisure travel destination for U.S. Hispanic travelers, Ramudo said.
Mexico is popular among Hispanic clients for the same reasons it is popular generally – for its beaches, active travel attractions and cultural attractions, said Ramudo. For the Hispanic market, it has the added attraction of being a Spanish-speaking destination.
Agents are interested
As a successful travel agency owner, Ramudo said, her position as task force chair provides a forum to educate the industry about the Hispanic market and its business potential.
“We can create more jobs in the travel industry and attract more visitors to our country,” she said. “This is something I feel very passionate about.”
Travel agents are receptive to the message, said Ramudo. “There is rarely a day that I am not approached” about the Hispanic market.
Education overcomes barriers
One of her messages to agents is that education about the Hispanic market will allow agents who want to expand into the market to overcome the barriers.
“The key barriers to serving and reaching this market are knowledge of what the market really represents and the differences between the Anglo and Hispanic markets. These barriers can be overcome by education, direct marketing, involvement in the community and affiliations,” said Ramudo.
Travel styles differ
Travel style is a key differentiator for the Hispanic travel market. Hispanics tend to travel in larger groups than do Anglos, said Ramudo.
They also like to shop during their travels. Also, Hispanics tend to dine later in the evening than Anglo clients – and start later in the day.
Agents have to be aware of these characteristics to provide Hispanic clients with vacations that meet their needs.
Group travel potential
Ramudo’s Cuban-American family provides an example of how Hispanics travel – usually in a large group of family and friends. That’s still true for Ramudo’s clan, even after more than 50 years in the U.S.
In fact, next year 50 to 60 of her family members plan to travel to Spain to mark the centennial of her grandfather’s emigration from his little hometown in Spain to Cuba.
That large group of relatives signals the type of business Hispanics could provide travel agents.
“This is an up and coming market that the industry is just beginning to address,” Ramudo said.
See related article, “Five Ways to Serve the Hispanic Travel Market Right Now,” Dec. 19, 2012.