Latin American Leisure Travelers – an Underserved Opportunity for U.S. Alternative Accommodation Providers

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As an operator of furnished and serviced apartments in tourist-friendly Miami, Dharma has always recognized the importance of Latin American travelers – which accounted for 66.8% of the 7.8 million international overnight visitors to Greater Miami in 2017 according to an annual report put out by the Greater Miami Conventions & Visitors Bureau.

Recently, leading online travel agency and long-time Dharma partner Expedia Group, as part of its publicly-accessible studies on global travelers, released a report (contact information submission required to download) titled Latin American Travel & Tourism Trends – Travel habits, behaviors, and influences of Argentinean, Brazilian and Mexican Travelers. The report surveyed 3,002 suitable individuals from the 3 titular countries and produced 4 key marketing takeaways:

Marketing Takeaway 1 – They prioritize experiences over deals, and take longer holidays. Travelers prioritize experiences over deals, and take longer holidays, so marketers should lead with unique activities and experiences and promote a longer length-of-stay itinerary – while providing relevant deals to make the decision even easier.

Marketing Takeaway 2 – They’re undecided on a trip destination. 6 in 10 or more are undecided on a destination when they decide to take a trip

Marketing Takeaway 3 – They seek inspiration from a variety of sources. Create a multi-platform strategy to reach and influence travelers through relevant content throughout the purchase journey,

Marketing Takeaway 4 – They turn to OTAs for inspiration & booking. More than half of travelers are using OTAs in their trip planning process. Seek out opportunities for strategic partnerships.

In this month’s blog, we’d like to share how Dharma has been incorporating the aforementioned insights into our guest experience management and prospecting efforts – and not just for LatAm travelers, as we’ve found many of Expedia conclusions applicable to leisure travelers worldwide.

Enticing Travelers to Visit

Expedia’s report asserts that a majority of LATAM travelers, 6 out of 10 per Marketing Takeaway 2, are undecided about where to go when they first decide to take a vacation. The report also found that 82% say informative content can influence their destination selection, and 71% say the same thing about advertisements.

Dharma operates in tourist-heavy Miami and the Greater NYC Area, but we must compete diligently against other lodging providers, of which there are many. We aim to distinguish ourselves by helping guests discover tourist experiences that are specific to the local community. To this end, we blog often about distinctively local restaurants, bars, shops, events…etc., and push this content to our current and future guests, through organic social media posts, digital advertisements, and email newsletters; and of course, when targeting Latin American travelers, our promotional content is delivered in Spanish and or Portuguese as well as English.

Our experience is that for large metropolises like Miami and New York, timely and informative content about micro-neighborhoods, such as a week-long street fair, can be of interest to international travelers who are already familiar with attractions promoted by mainstream travel guides.

From Serviced Housing to Memorable Experiences

Most hospitality professionals intuitively understand Marketing Takeaway 1 – the importance of experiences. Arguably the best way to earn a repeat guest is to provide a delightful experience.

To this end, Dharma is considering a variety of guest programming in 2019. For our Jersey City and Hoboken, New Jersey properties (Greater NYC area market), we’re exploring partnering with local performing arts and literary education troupe New York Shakespeare Exchange (www.nysx.org, “NYSX”), to develop multi-day festivals consisting of theatrical performances, “pub-crawls”, lectures, and group discussions that aim to entertain and inform our guests as well as residents of the local community.

The tailored programming we’re developing in conjunction with NYSX takes into account season (indoor vs. outdoor events), the local community (Jersey City + Hoboken in New Jersey), Dharma’s value proposition, and other circumstantial factors – making each event truly one-of-a-kind for our guests.

We’re actively exploring concepts like the NYSX partnership for the Latin-heavy Miami market, and actively invite content producers to reach out to us.

Collaborating With Like-Minded OTAs (and other partners)

As Expedia noted in Marketing Takeaway 4, online travel agencies (OTAs) like Expedia.com – which act as a sales and marketing channel for lodging/travel managers like Dharma – are relied upon heavily by LatAm travelers. This has definitely been true for Dharma as OTAs account for a material percentage of our overall bookings.

Dharma is always on the lookout for ways in which we can distinguish ourselves on OTA platforms. We’re envisioning anything from publishing joint thought-leadership content, to helping OTAs evolve their online user interface by incorporating features that may be of special interest to LatAm travelers – such as the ability to filter for accommodations with Spanish language customer-service staff (which Dharma has!).

We invite any and all customer-minded OTAs (that includes you Expedia!) to discuss with us!