For almost 20 years, I developed a multicultural marketing communications business that opened doors to meet with clients in nine states as well as attend numerous conferences and meetings around the United States. I was able to combine my work with my passion for travel and had the opportunity to do a little tourism on the side.
Traveling for work is not as glamorous as one might think. You go from an airport to a hotel room, from a hotel room to a meeting room or a conference room, back to the hotel room and to the plane. At least in the United States, you meet with people who are eager to talk business and go home –of course, they live and have families there!
You, on the other hand, are exhausted, sometimes jetlagged and/or sleep deprived –yes, those red-eye flights are cheap and convenient but they kill your brain cells! If you were lucky, you arrived the night before and if you are not all well-prepared to take advantage of this small window of opportunity, most of the time you order room service and prepare your meeting or presentation for the next day while watching your favorite TV show.
The truth is, a whole travel and tourism industry is at your service to make that trip a little more pleasurable if you know how to take advantage of it. Not always good service or perks mean more pennies –especially if those pennies come from your company’s pocket. Knowing the best hotels, the local restaurants offering a special service or how to take better advantage of certain offers is essential, and for that reason, you need a trusted professional meeting planner or travel agent to give you the best advice every time you are on the go.
Within the industry, the International Association of Hispanic Meeting Professionals (IAHMP) is a trusted source of information and resources for all small businesses to large corporations’ travel needs. “No other industry association is positioned to bring the level of expert knowledge that we can deliver,” said Margaret Gonzalez, IAHMP Founder, President and CEO. “And no one knows better how to market to the over 55 million Hispanic consumers than Hispanic meeting professionals,” she added.
With the perspective of hitting a purchasing power of over $1.5 trillion by 2015, the Hispanic market is larger than many countries’ economies around the world. “Hispanics have been involved in the service end of the meeting planning and hospitality industry for a long time. However, it is time for Latinos to become more influential players and demand a greater role in the industry. They need access to executive ranks in large hotel chains and Convention and Visitors Bureaus,” Gonzalez said.
The Association recently had its 20th Annual Conference in Atlantic City, NJ. A glittering town that has been hit hard with the decline of the casino industry, AC is trying to diversify offerings, attract new investment and identify ways to promote its unique assets, according to Mayor Donald A. Guardian. Through Meet AC, it is committed to growing the meeting industry and offering the best accommodations, world-class dining, fun and entertainment to all who plan their conferences and corporative meetings in Atlantic City.
There is a fantastic opportunity for Latinas and Latinos small businesses to become suppliers as well as Certified Diversity Meeting Professionals (CDMP) for the meeting planning and hospitality industry, a booming sector that represented nearly $2.4 trillion in 2014.
“The CDMP program was created to empower professionals in the industry to polish their skills and understand the benefits of the changing market place,” IAHMP President Gonzalez said. As each year millions travel to attend meetings, conventions and special events, these certified professionals are the planners behind the scenes helping travelers make the most out of that experience.
“However, cultural awareness of the travelers’ cultural needs, nuances and other traits –such as gender, age and religious preferences– is a specificity that only certified professionals can acquire,” said Gonzalez. “Diversity certified meeting and event planners know how to connect with a bilingual audience such as Hispanics, who have their own set of values, attitudes, biases, perceptions and preferences. This knowledge is instrumental at creating an emotional connection with a product,” she explained.
“We encourage all of those in the industry to take advantage of this great opportunity to better know your diverse markets by becoming a certified event and meeting planner, hand-held by the best CDMP faculty, trainers, speakers and presenters when you join IAHMP” she added.
For additional information about IAHMP or the Certified Diversity Meeting Professionals program, please visit http://www.iahmp.org/.