Cultural sensitivity is the awareness and acceptance of cultures that are not your own and the ability to not place any one culture above another in importance. Creating culturally sensitive travel content will help you connect more authentically with your audiences, build trust and respect for your brand, and elevate your content by giving it a genuine voice.
Why Culturally Sensitive Content is Important
Embracing cultural sensitivity will help you become a better travel marketing professional.
Expanding your awareness of cultural differences gives you a better understanding of the lives and values of different peoples from around the world and in your marketing audience. Applying these insights to your travel business marketing content will facilitate positive relationships with a diverse client base.
Communicating in a culturally relevant way creates a positive and inclusive environment. And when people feel included and respected, it fosters a sense of belonging.
When you learn about the cultural and social nuances of a community or population, you will avoid misunderstandings that could harm people and negatively impact your business.
An unintentional offense or faux pas in your marketing materials could drive away potential clients.
Businesses that demonstrate cultural understanding are valued by today’s consumers. Showing that you, too, value and understand different cultures will help you build trust and rapport with your marketing audience.
When you connect authentically with your audience, they’ll be more inclined to engage with your brand.
#1: Research the Culture You’re Targeting
Know your audience. It’s one of the core principles of marketing. If you don’t know your audience, you won’t be able to engage them, and your marketing campaigns won’t gain traction. So, start by identifying your target traveler audience.
Knowing your target audience will help you really focus on who you’re talking to when you’re creating your marketing content—and drive a more successful marketing campaign. Learning your potential customers’ values, customs, and beliefs will give you valuable insights.
These insights can be used to shape your content, tailor it to audience interests, and craft messaging that resonates and prompts a deeper connection with your brand.
Do some research on the cultures you might be speaking to. Reading books and articles and watching documentaries is a great place to start. If you can, talk to people who are a part of the culture.
#2: Choose Your Words Carefully
It’s imperative that you choose your words carefully when creating marketing content.
Your audience research should be able to help you avoid using most words and phrases that will offend someone in your target culture. However, there are some language nuances you should be mindful of.
For example, be aware of idioms or expressions that may not translate well into other languages. In some cultural context, an expression that you use regularly might be considered offensive. If you aren’t certain, do some more research to make sure what you’re saying is safe, or leave it out and start again.
Always avoid using insensitive language in your marketing materials. Keep it clean, and keep it professional.
Use plain language without jargon. Jargon can be difficult to understand for uninformed audiences, muddling your messaging.
#3: Avoid Stereotypes and Cultural Connotations
As you get started communicating in a culturally respectful way, practice good etiquette by avoiding stereotypes and cultural appropriation. Don’t make or use generalizations that could be considered rude.
Don’t use the symbols of a community that you’re speaking to (or about) without thorough comprehension of what they mean and what they represent; only use them if you are confident that you’re doing so appropriately.
If you don’t understand the cultural significance of something, don’t use it.
Celebrating a culture in a genuine manner will enhance your brand’s credibility and trust. It can even be a differentiating factor that raises your business over your competitors.
And your audience is more likely to engage if you demonstrate a genuine understanding of their culture, values, or heritage—as well as that of the local people at your marketed destinations.
#4: Be Inclusive
Inclusive marketing means that you represent all types of people (from all types of backgrounds), things, or ideas in your materials and treat them all fairly and equally.
It means being deliberate about choosing to represent cultures other than your own, and doing so authentically. This gesture will go a long way to build trust and respect with your audience.
To be inclusive in your marketing efforts, use images and videos that represent diverse peoples from different cultures and backgrounds. And you should do so in a culturally relevant and appropriate manner.
Use inclusive language that avoids gendered, ableist, or discriminatory words.
Be aware of travel marketing cultural sensitivities. Make sure that if you use video or take a photo of cultural or religious sites that you know what their significance is before incorporating them into your marketing materials.
And always ask permission before taking pictures or videos of people in local dress or participating in local customs.
#5: Always Be Authentic
Authenticity is absolutely essential when you’re communicating about a culture that is not your own.
Today’s consumers are savvy and will be able to tell if you are not truly informed and aware. This is why doing your research first is vital; it’s not possible to authentically engage with a community or people if you don’t understand what their culture represents, their values, and what they have experienced.
Be genuine. Share your experiences honestly.
And it’s ok to be honest about your limitations. Let your readers know that you are open to feedback and learning from them, and their experiences, as well.
It can make all the difference when you open yourself up to an honest dialog instead of moving along without addressing any issues that your readers might raise.
#6: Connect With The Community
Find ways to have conversations with members of your target audience.
These conversations can help shed light on the things that are important to them. Never assume that you know what challenges they face, what they value, or how they want to be represented by somebody who is not a part of their culture or community.
Make meaningful connections so that you have people to come back to when you want to know more or need to ask deeper questions. There is no better resource than learning from the community itself!
Once you have an honest and thorough understanding of your target community’s history and current landscape, you can start to position yourself in relation. This is especially important if you intend to address any challenges that the community faces; to position yourself as an advocate, an ally, or promote awareness; or if you plan to put out any type of calls to action.
#7: Seek Out Local Insights
You will have members of your travel marketing audience who want to be culturally sensitive travelers. Try to learn as much as you can about local communities in the destinations that you offer through your travel business.
Also, find communities in your local area to learn from. Gather local knowledge and tips.
Sharing this helpful information with your audience will help you create a deeper connection with them—and prove that you’ve done your homework. It also gives you the opportunity to build valuable relationships with people who you can continue to learn from.
Using this high-quality information will greatly improve your content. Not only is it a perfect way to show that you’re dedicated to being respectful and learning about other cultures, but it will also add a deeper, more genuine voice to your content. This will resonate with today’s readers and elevate your content.
#8: Have Empathy and Seek to Understand
Be open minded and make an effort to put yourself into your audience’s shoes. Go beyond just learning about their culture and try to imagine what they experience.
If you are having a hard time doing that, or understanding some facet of their experience, ask questions.
Everyone makes mistakes. If you make a mistake, it’s important that you own up to it and not ignore it. Then, work to understand what happened and how you ended up there. Use that reflection to help avoid making similar mistakes in the future.