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Industry Briefs

Our dear brother Roland Martin, on his Roland Martin Unfiltered TV Show, recently addressed the lack of ad spending by corporate giants like Pepsico with Black-owned media.   While his commentary did not specifically deal with the travel/meetings/hospitality industry, the same principles accurately apply.   He quoted several studies, including one that stated while Blacks comprise 13% of the population, Black-owned media only receives 1% of the advertising spend.

Just like Pepsico, which benefits greatly from the dollars spent by African-American consumers for its many products, most corporations in our industry invest little or no money in targeting the African-American market though Black-owned media. To put it bluntly, they take your business for granted, assuming you will use their products and services anyway, which in fact you do.  Nowhere else is this more evident than in the lodging sector.

I can definitely attest to this based on our own experience at Black Meetings & Tourism, where presently only two lodging companies - Caesars Entertainment and MGM - value the African-American market enough to spend marketing dollars with us to connect with the $129 Billion+ market that we serve.   Thank you Caesars and MGM for your support and your faith in us to deliver.   None of the other lodging brands, and you know who they are, spend any marketing dollars with us.

This is nothing new, even though Black meeting planners have been utilizing these hotel companies for their conferences and conventions for decades and decades.  I believe it was in 2007 when the NAACP created its Lodging Industry Report Card because of the dismal record of the hotel segment, and the negative impact their policies had on people of color when it came to employment opportunities and vendor spending, among other things.   Once the Report Cards went public, with many lodging companies receiving failing grades, hotel brands began tripping over one another to get advertising into Black Meetings & Tourism and other black-owned media. During the next few months just about every major lodging brand began advertising with BM&T, which only slasted for a short period of time.   Sadly, as soon as the Report Card was discontinued, the advertising disappeared, and in the nearly 15 years since, has not returned. It's      unfortunate that this kind of pressure needed and apparently still needs to be applied to hotel brands before they are willing to invest marketing dollars with Black-owned media.   And I am not just talking about Black Meetings & Tourism.   We have done extensive research and we have found that other Black-owned media are in the same boat as us.

We are contemplating calling out the various brands by name and let the chips fall where they may.  Or even urging the reinstatement of the Lodging Industry Report Card.   Of course, it would be much simpler if the industry giants did the right thing, stopped taking your business for granted, and spent an equitable share of their advertising dollars with Black-owned media.

As a meeting and event planner, your voice is very important here.  You are the one who books the various hotel venues for your conferences and meetings.   You must not have tunnel vision and operate under the assumption that the only things that matter are rates and dates.   Does the lodging company or hotel you are contemplating using have a diverse staff that includes African-Americans in senior level executive positions?   Do they utilize qualified African-American vendors and suppliers?   And do they advertise in Black-owned media?   You must be willing to ask the tough questions if you truly want to improve the opportunities for our brothers and sisters in this industry and the overall economic condition of our community.   Your voice counts, so let it be heard!

Meet Brilliantly