Valley becomes attractive for multicultural events - East Valley Tribune: Business

Valley becomes attractive for multicultural events

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Posted: Thursday, September 16, 2004 7:09 am | Updated: 4:28 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

The American Indian Science and Engineering Society plans to fill up nearly 3,000 Valley hotel room nights in early November for a national conference and career fair.

The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities is coming in October 2005.

They are among nearly 140 ethnic meetings that the Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau has enticed to the Valley in the nine years since the organization took aim at multicultural markets.

"We’ve booked almost every big Hispanic convention," said Marc Garcia, managing director of multicultural affairs for the Valleywide tourism agency.

About 6,000 delegates of Hispanic civil rights organization National Council of La Raza packed Valley hotels and restaurants in June, spending an estimated $7 million, Garcia said.

It was a significantly profitable convention, he said, especially in the middle of the slow summer season.

The Hilton Phoenix East/ Mesa didn’t cash in on that group, but the East Valley hotel is benefiting from a 4-year-old marketing program specifically aimed at ethnic groups, said David Muth, general manager.

"It’s been a very important part of our program, particularly at a time when competition has been increasing, and we need to make sure we get our fair share," Muth said.

As a Valleywide bonus, when multicultural meeting goers come to the Valley, they tend to come early or stay late, bring the family, and tack a vacation on one end of the visit, Garcia said. And wherever they stay, they spread their cash around.

"They go to Scottsdale for the arts, to Tempe to stroll along Mill Avenue or they take in a concert at Mesa Amphitheatre," he said.

To fire up local hospitality industry leaders about the importance of attracting multicultural tourism, Garcia asked management consultant Carlos Canejo to talk about the opportunities.

Canejo told local business leaders Wednesday at the Marriott Airport Hotel that ethnic groups have impressive purchasing power.

Hispanic tourism, for example, is growing at about 20 percent per year, while tourism overall is growing at 2 percent to 3 percent per year, Canejo said.

By 2050, Hispanics will make up 25 percent of the U.S. population — a formidable opportunity for those who want to sell hotel rooms or restaurant meals, he said.

"You need to switch from accommodating them because it’s a nice thing to do to (developing) a business strategy," Canejo said.

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