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Speak with Cultural Relevance to Reach U.S. Hispanics

January 23, 2013


ORLANDO, Fla.—In order to reach the growing U.S. Hispanic market, organizations need to know how to speak the language, Jorge Plasencia said PlasenciaTEhere yesterday. But that language isn’t simply Spanish.

"If you speak to us in a culturally relevant way, it will pay off," said Plasencia, chairman and CEO of República and chair of the National Council of La Raza. "Our buying power is astronomical and continues to grow every day."

NTA gathered nearly 80 travel professionals at Travel Exchange for the Hispanics in Travel Caucus. The first caucus was held in September at ASTA’s Travel Retailing and Destination Expo. Both meetings included a presentation, an informal discussion and a networking session called a Café con Leche. 

U.S. Hispanics represent more than $56 billion in leisure travel annually, which Plasencia said is up for grabs. He noted that Hispanics travel in larger groups and spend more per trip than the general population. Often within those large groups are several generations, all of which factor into vacation planning, but only some of which are bilingual.

"I consume media in English and Spanish. If you’re only speaking to me in one language, you’re missing a piece of me, and you’re missing abuela," Plasencia said, adding that the person—a grandmother, perhaps—paying for the trip might speak one language, while the person pushing for the trip speaks another.

When speaking both languages, organizations should hire the right person. "Not just bilingual, but someone who also understands the culture," Plasencia said. "Content should be ‘trans-created,’ not translated."

Speaking with cultural relevance also includes using social media and a variety of websites that Hispanics use to stay connected with their family, roots and home countries. Social media is also how a significant number of Hispanics gain ideas for travel.

The caucus was sponsored by the Mexico Tourism Board. It was organized by the NTA-ASTA Hispanic Business Development Task Force, chaired by Olga Ramudo, a member of both associations.

"This caucus is so important because we can bring value to NTA and ASTA members and bring to their attention the potential for untapped customers," said Ramudo, president and CEO of Express Travel, who also sits on the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board.

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