We are all things. We enjoy cultural activities; we are luxury travellers; we are adventure travellers; we have accessibility needs; we are members of the LGBTQ+ community; we are baby boomers; we are millennials; and the list goes on and on.”
So says Naledi K. Khabo, CEO of Africa Tourism Association and moderator of Africa Travel Week’s (ATW) recent virtual masterclass entitled The African Diaspora Traveller.
With African Diaspora travellers predicted to be one of the first to rebound as travel restrictions ease, ATW is hard at work creating opportunities for the travel and tourism industry to authentically connect to this diverse, yet often-overlooked, market segment.
CONNECTING WITH THE AFRICAN DIASPORA
“Often singularly focussed on Black travellers within the US market, the African Diaspora encompasses people from all over the world, with diverse backgrounds, and a vast spectrum of preferences and interests,” says Martin Hiller, Content & Creative Director: Travel, Tourism & Creative Industries.
“Using our global network, we secured a panel of five leading experts to discuss practical ways to make African travel experiences more inclusive for the African Diaspora.”
The virtual masterclass discussion highlighted channels through which operators and marketers can connect to the African Diaspora traveller which has largely been captivated by the world of social media.
“From the discussion we learnt that platforms like Instagram, Facebook and even Twitter, are easier to find images and content that reflects what Black travellers want to see, but there is differentiation across these platforms as well. Instagram and its cohort of influencers trend younger, while Facebook and its group magnetism attract an older crowd,” adds Hiller.
On the masterclass panel was Paula Franklin, Co-founder of Franklin Bailey, who explained that travel content should address the fact that not everyone shares the same travel experience.
“Whether they’re male or female, able-bodied or differently-abled, extrovert or introvert, and indeed, Black or any other race – you are going to experience a destination differently,” she explained.
“Throw some colour into your marketing material. Advertise in a few Black-owned media companies. Pay a few Black influencers. It doesn’t actually need to take a lot of effort, just a more considered approach,” she says.
Also on the panel was Mimi Mmabatho Selemela, Curator and Director at MM CONNECT and designer of the Johannesburg Experience for Travel Noire, who affirmed that working with Black-owned businesses throughout the value chain also matters to some clients and being intentional with travel spend can make a big difference in the long run.
While supporting Black-owned businesses is one way that the African Diaspora can travel with intentionality, she affirmed that it really comes down to delivering on that fundamental aspect of travel – connection.
To foster that message and to encourage diversity within the industry, ATW is gearing up with plans for EQUAL Africa set to run alongside sister show, World Travel Market Africa (WTM Africa), from 07-09 April 2021 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC).
“EQUAL Africa 2021 will form an important meeting point for global buyers and African travel product exhibitors,” explains Hiller.
“It’s an opportunity to learn about the multitude of niche market sectors as well as furthering important conversations about inclusive and accessible travel into Africa as our industry recovers,” he concludes.