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Industry Briefs
Earning Business From The African-American Meetings Market

One of the questions I am frequently asked is How do I get more African-American groups to meet in my city, hotel or convention center?  The answer is actually quite simple - for starters you need to invite them!  You would be surprised how many industry professionals don't grasp this concept. They wonder why destinations like Birmingham, Cincinnati, Washington, DC, Detroit, Baltimore and Fort Lauderdale, to name a few, seem to land Black conventions of all sizes on a regular basis, while they struggle to get these same associations to select their cities for a meeting.

It wasn't very long ago that advertising and collateral material didn't include images of African-Americans and other people of color.  So even in those cases where an effort was being made to target the African-American market, the promotional assets being used did not resonate with this niche segment.  When promotional material doesn't show diversity, the message is clear to people of color that they are not really welcomed.  Fortunately through our work at Black Meetings & Tourism and the efforts of other socially conscious marketers in the industry, most if not all promotional material used now is inclusive and more reflective of ethnic diversity.

Secondly, to reach this diverse client base, you need to be where they are!  That means participating in industry conferences that address the interests of this segment.  The National Coalition of Black Meeting Planners, Travel Professionals of Color (TPOC) and the International Multicultural &

Heritage Tourism Network are the major industry organizations addressing the needs of this market.  Each of these organizations has an annual convention, and at the very least, you need to attend all three.  Even better, you should participate in each organization's trade show as a vendor, and if possible take advantage of sponsorship opportunities.  

Of course I would be remiss if I didn't also include keeping your message on the pages of Black Meetings & Tourism, the award winning publication you are reading at the moment that has served this market segment for nearly 25 years.  If you want to reach the $60 billion market we serve, there's no better way to get in touch.  That's why we are called "The Bible" of the industry!

Another avenue to reach the African-American market, especially young millennials, is through the Facebook group Black Meeting & Event Professionals and Antwone Stigall, the group's founder and president.  If you haven't checked them out, do so right away and get connected.

And finally, attend general market industry conventions like IMEX, MPI and ASAE, for example.  There are some African-American meeting planners who attend those gatherings but not the aforementioned Black industry events.  This will be your perfect opportunity to meet them and make your best pitch.

To put in bluntly, in order to grow your segment of this lucrative market, you must first value it, and then commit to investing in it!  Not just once or twice to book a specific piece of business, but on an ongoing basis!  Put your money where your mouth is, and your ROI will be well worth the effort!