Cultural Diversity - A World of Opportunity

By Andrew Freeman President, Andrew Freeman & Company | November 19, 2010

Cultural diversity is no longer a lofty idea for the future and wishful thinking. Nor is it something regional affecting select sections of the country. From vendors to guests, staff to neighbors, cultural diversity is here, it is now, it is universal. Revisiting existing strategies and tactics and implementing new ones to accommodate true cultural diversity and inclusion in your hotel is not only socially responsible, it is just good business.

You may be in a place where cultural diversity is taken for granted or where it hasn't yet become prevalent. Recent statistics should give you some idea of the changing make-up in the United States' population. Based on the 2000 U.S. Census, numbers show that whites made up 69% of the American population, Latinos and African Americans each made up 13%, and Asian Americans accounted for the remaining 4%. By the year 2050, predictions indicate whites will make up only 50% of the population, while Latinos will grow to 24%, African Americans will increase to 15%, and Asian American will double to 8% of the population.

These numbers are made all the more significant when the same predictions indicate that the U.S. population will grow from 280 million in 2000 to 420 million people by 2050, with women continuing to outnumber men. Immigration plays a major factor in this growth, especially in the Latino and Asian American populations, contributing 35% and 60% to their communities' growth respectively.

It has also been long recognized that Americans are getting older. By 2030, it is anticipated that one in five Americans will be 65 or older. This remains about the same as it is today for white/non-Latinos, but the projections show a much lower ratio for African Americans (one in seven), Asian Americans (one in six) and Latinos (one in ten).

The years 2030 and 2050 seem a long way off, so how do these statistics affect your hotel's operations and marketing efforts today? They are already affected: As a point of comparison, the 1950 U.S. Census showed that whites made up almost 89% of the population, African Americans accounted for almost 11% and all other races were less than 1%. The rapid change in the make-up of the American population is clearly a steady trend and looks to continue what is already well underway, which means that the typical "one size fits all" way of operating and marketing a business is no longer an effective way of running a business.

Simultaneous to these rapid population shifts are the equally steady changes in technology and communications. Fortunately, today's increasingly sophisticated technology and the widening spread of Internet use make it easier to research information about potential markets, organize and share information in a way that's useful and effective, and then confidently target a very select group of customers in a much more personal way. You may find you efforts are focused on a select population of customers, but they are much more qualified and loyal, generating greater revenue for you at a lesser cost.

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Hotel Spa: Oasis Unplugged

The driving force in current hotel spa trends is the effort to manage unprecedented levels of stress experienced by their clients. Feeling increasingly overwhelmed by demanding careers and technology overload, people are craving places where they can go to momentarily escape the rigors of their daily lives. As a result, spas are positioning themselves as oases of unplugged human connection, where mindfulness and contemplation activities are becoming increasingly important. One leading hotel spa offers their clients the option to experience their treatments in total silence - no music, no talking, and no advice from the therapist - just pure unadulterated silence. Another leading hotel spa is working with a reputable medical clinic to develop a “digital detox” initiative, in which clients will be encouraged to unplug from their devices and engage in mindfulness activities to alleviate the stresses of excessive technology use. Similarly, other spas are counseling clients to resist allowing technology to monopolize their lives, and to engage in meditation and gratitude exercises in its place. The goal is to provide clients with a warm, inviting and tranquil sanctuary from the outside world, in addition to also providing genuine solutions for better sleep, proper nutrition, stress management and natural self-care. To accomplish this, some spas are incorporating a variety of new approaches - cryotherapy, Himalayan salt therapy and ayurveda treatments are becoming increasingly popular. Other spas are growing their own herbs and performing their treatments in lush outdoor gardens. Some spa therapists are being trained to assess a client's individual movement patterns to determine the most beneficial treatment specifically for them. The July issue of the Hotel Business Review will report on these trends and developments and examine how some hotel spas are integrating them into their operations.