A recognized emerging markets consultant in the United States is encouraging Caribbean tourism officials to make a strong effort to tap the potentially lucrative African American travel market.
Michael DeFlorimonte, a top commentator on the spending power of minority communities, says American corporations - some more than others - are quickly realizing the economic impact of the African American community and so should Caribbean destinations. “Attracting this market is no longer an option, but a necessity,” he said explaining that to do so is “good business sense”.
A former Vice President at Charles Schwab & Co., DeFlorimonte, who is of Guyanese ancestry, applauded efforts by the Caribbean Hotel Association Charitable Trust (CHACT) to brand the region as a single destination, from beaches to aqua-marine life to waterfalls. “If people aren`t attracted to the Caribbean, then dollars are wasted in marketing individual destinations,” he commented.
As Caribbean travel picks up over the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, DeFlorimonte believes the region is a natural choice for the upwardly mobile Black community. “After all, no-one is talking disarmament in the Caribbean,” he stated.
The San Francisco Bay area resident believes that now is the time to forge strong relationships with Black Americans by increasing awareness of the Caribbean product. “When the economy heats up and more buying decisions are being made, the investment in gaining mindshare will result in increased tourism to the Caribbean.”
DeFlorimonte cautions, however, about the importance of delivering high levels of customer service. “When increased levels of status or accomplishment are achieved, there is a distinct desire to be recognized for such, and also, to be afforded all of the luxuries, perks and benefits that accrue to that level. Anything short of that is often construed as a lack of respect and validation.”
DeFlorimonte has been widely recognized for his marketing expertise. He has appeared on CNN, CNBC, CBS, ABC, NBC, Bloomberg, National Public Radio, and numerous other television and radio programs. He has also been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times and other leading newspapers.
The CHACT is a public/private sector conglomeration of major hotel chains, airlines and credit card companies who have joined forces with both CARICOM and non-CARICOM nations to market and promote the Caribbean as a single destination. A regional fund has enabled the launch of a television campaign with a related call-to-action. The overall intent of the campaign is to brand the region and, thereby, compete with other regions of the world that have been taking ever increasing Caribbean market share of the US outbound traveler for nine consecutive years.
Eighteen destinations are participating in the campaign. They are Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Maarten, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos and the United States Virgin Islands.
To book the Caribbean, call 1-888-CARIBBEAN or visit www.gocaribbean.com.