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New International Study Shows U.S. Black Travelers Are More Influenced by Concerns About Safety and Representation in Marketing than European Black Travelers

16 July 2021
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MMGY Global

MMGY Global recently announced results from the second and final phase of The Black Traveler: Insights, Opportunities & Priorities research report. The study was created by MMGY Travel Intelligence on behalf of Black traveler advocacy organizations to identify the needs, behaviors and sentiment of the Black travel community. In this phase, 3,635 Black leisure travelers from the United States (1,631), Canada (500), France (501), Germany (503) and U.K./ Ireland (500) were surveyed.

According to the report, Black travelers – particularly those in the U.S., Canada and U.K./Ireland – are paying close attention to how destinations and travel service providers approach diversity and have indicated that it has an influence on their travel decision-making. Further to that, how Black people are represented in marketing and advertising collateral also plays a key role, with 54% of U.S. Black travelers agreeing that they are more likely to visit a destination if they see Black representation in travel advertising. In the U.K./Ireland, 42% agreed and in Canada 40% agreed. However, there was far less agreement among Black travelers from France (27%) and Germany (15%).

Another highly influential factor in the decision-making process is whether the destination is perceived as safe for Black travelers. Seventy-one percent of U.S. and Canadian respondents felt safety was extremely or very influential to their decision, while 58% of U.K./Ireland respondents felt similarly and only 31% of French respondents and 21% of German respondents felt influenced by this.

“It is not surprising that Black representation in advertising and safety highly influence U.S. Black travelers more so than Black travelers from France and Germany where awareness and discussions about racial issues are more muted,” says Ursula Petula Barzey, Research Committee Chair, Black Travel Alliance. “America’s history of slavery followed by repressive Jim Crow laws, segregation, institutional racism, and continuing police brutality has made U.S. Black travelers cautious. It’s why Victor Hugo’s “The Negro Motorist Green Book” published from 1936 to 1966, and now modern-day online communities where Black travelers gather are so important. We have an increasing desire for leisure travel and love it when destinations actively market to us but want to make sure that the experience will be a positive one.”

What inspires Black travelers was fairly consistent across all six countries. The leading source of inspiration is the need for relaxation, followed by enthusiasm for visiting someplace new and experiencing different cultures. It is therefore no surprise that Black travelers in all six countries indicated that they are most interested in cultural activities when they visit a destination. Other activities of interest include nature and wellness activities, visiting attractions and attending family events.

Phase I of the study revealed the enormous spending power of U.S. Black travelers; they spent US$109.4 billion on domestic travel in 2019. When international leisure travel is added to that figure U.S. travelers spent US$129.6 billion that same year. Meanwhile Black travelers in the U.K./Ireland spent US$9 billion on domestic and international leisure travel; in Germany, they spent US$8.1 billion; Canadian Black travelers spent US$7.8 billion; and France closes out the list with US$5 billion in 2019. This spend is expected to be lower in 2021 as, on average, Black travelers intend to take 18% fewer trips this year and also intend to spend more than 50% less than what they reported in 2019.

Regardless of the smaller spend, three-quarters of the Black travelers surveyed intend to take an overnight leisure trip in 2021. Notably, respondents from the U.K./Ireland are more inclined to take an international overnight trip than any other country (at least two trips), while Americans were more interested in staying closer to home, indicating they’d take at least two domestic overnight trips.

“The findings of this report, along with the sustained calls by Black travelers for diversity and equality, should be an impetus for the travel industry to make a long-needed change. Companies should be prepared to demonstrate their moral and ethical commitment to ensuring Black travelers are given the service and hospitality that they so rightly deserve,” said MMGY Global’s CEO, Clayton Reid.

The Black Traveler: Insights, Opportunities & Priorities report was made possible by Choice Hotels International®, Tripadvisor and Virginia Tourism Corporation, as well as by input and oversight from a steering committee of diverse industry experts and through partnerships with travel advocacy organizations, including the Black Travel Alliance (BTA), the NCBMP and the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers (NABHOOD) with 100% of the net proceeds from this study going back to the BTA, NABHOOD and NCBMP – as well as several other not-for-profit Black travel advocacy organizations.

The first phase of the study analyzed findings from MMGY Global’s 2019 Shifflet TRAVEL PERFORMANCE/MonitorTM, which surveyed 4,800 Black leisure travelers within the United States, and a 2020 survey of 200 members of the National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals (NCBMP). Findings from that phase may be viewed here. The Black Traveler: Insights, Opportunities & Priorities report is available for purchase at www.mmgyglobal.com/the-black-traveler-insights-opportunities-priorities.

In an update, The Black Traveler: Insights, Opportunities & Priorities study has raised $101,395 to date in net proceeds. The company had committed that net proceeds from the sales of the report would be donated back to the travel advocacy organizations with which it partnered for the study, namely the Black Travel Alliance, the National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals (NCBMP), and the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers (NABHOOD). Each of these organizations will receive 10% of the net proceeds, and the remaining 70% will be used to fund two grant programs spearheaded by the Black Travel Alliance and the NCBMP: the Black Travel Organization Grant and the Black Travel Content Creator Grant. Learn more here