The Changing Face of North America

A quiet revolution in ethnicity has been taking place in the United States and Canada. If current demographic trends hold, the U.S. and Canada are changing to become more diverse racially and ethnically, and retailers will have to respond accordingly.

This revolution has long-term consequences for the hotel industry, as well. While the U.S. population has grown dramatically from 150 million in 1950 to more than 300 million today, even more important is its changing composition.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. will be a “majority-minority society, one without a clear majority of any one racial or ethnic group by 2050.”

This trend has already commenced with all 50 states experiencing a significant increase in their Hispanic and Asian populations. The Center for Public Education says, “By 2050, the total U.S. population will grow to more than 400 million, will be 50.1% non-Hispanic White, 24.4% Hispanic, 14.6% Black and 3.8% Asian/Pacific Islander. The Pew Research Center projects that the percentage of the U.S. population that is Hispanic will double by 2050 while the Asian percentage of the population will nearly double from 14% to 29%. The shift already is true in some markets: Orange County, Fl. was slightly more than 50% minority in 2008, one of six countries to become majority-minority between 2007 and 2008.

According to the Census Bureau, as of July 1, 2008, nearly 10% of the nation’s counties were majority-minority, as were four states: Hawaii, California, New Mexico and Texas.

What does this mean for hotel operators? At the least, more care must be taken with site selection, staffing and merchandising to locate and satisfy the target hotel guest. A hotel in California, with the largest Hispanic population of any state, or New Mexico, with the highest percentage of Hispanic population (45%) should be prepared to cater to that particular demographic.

Fortunately, this shift is taking place gradually, giving the hotel franchisors and franchisees and management companies time to learn the needed lessons so that their hotels attract and satisfy their guests.

As Ellsworth Statler said in his Statler Service Code in 1908:

Statler guests should be made to feel that we want to give them more sincere service for their money than they ever before received at any hotel… Make the guests feel the fine good-fellowship of the hotel; the ‘no-trouble-to help you’ spirit. Never be perky, pungent or fresh. Remember the guest pays your salary.

I have the feeling Statler would have known how to deal with these majority-minority shifts. Do you?

About the author: Stanley Turkel, MHS, ISHC operates his hotel consulting office as a sole practitioner specializing in franchising issues, asset management and litigation support services.  Turkel’s clients are hotel owners and franchisees, investors and lending institutions.  Turkel serves on the Board of Advisors and lectures at the NYU Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management.  He is a member of the prestigious International Society of Hospitality Consultants.  His provocative articles on various hotels subjects have been published in the Cornell Quarterly, Lodging Hospitality, Hotel Interactive, Hotel-Online, Blue MauMau, Hotel Resource News, etc.  Don’t hesitate to call 917-628-8549 or email [email protected]

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