Black Folks Camp Too!Earl B. Hunter, Jr.
About Our Guest
Earl B. Hunter, Jr.
In this episode of the Destination Marketing Podcast, Earl Hunter from Black Folks Camp Too joins us to provide insight on how to better diversify the travel industry, specifically in the outdoor space. Listen to hear Earl's passion for helping Black folks feel safe and comfortable while camping, and learn how your destination can better market to capture this important percentage of the population.
"We created Black Folks Camp Too to get Black folks to camp with any and everyone. I believe that the outdoors is where our country and the world are going to meet and have unity."
-Earl B. Hunter, Jr.
- Name: Adam Stoker
- Position: Co-founder and CEO of Relic
- Favorite Destination: Fiji
- Dream Destination: New Zealand
- Name: Earl B. Hunter, Jr.
- Position: Founder of Black Folks Camp Too
- Favorite Destination: British Columbia
- Dream Destination: Iceland
“Black People Camp Too!” – Show Notes and Highlights
- Earl shares that the RV industry is about $144 billion industry.
- Black Folks Camp Too is a marketing company that bridges the outdoor industry and black folks.
- Black folks make up 14% of the population yet spend $1.3 trillion a year.
- Earl points out that the data shows black people are afraid to utilize outdoor resources due to generational fear.
- Reasons why companies don’t market to black people:
- Don’t know how.
- Afraid that they might be offending someone.
- The outdoor industry as a whole makes the assumption that people that are buying their products are the only people that want to buy their products.
- Black folks ride past RV dealerships every single day yet the industry is not advertising to them as a whole.
- Earl tells the outdoor industry that they’re actually doing a disservice by not asking black folks for their dollars.
- The world is changing. Anything that is normal before is not normal now.
- The reality of the fact that companies are pushing black folks into the outdoors so that the investment is a return on inclusion.
- Once you get folks hooked on the lifestyle of going to destinations and enjoying that, whether you are black, white, green and yellow, you have to educate about your industry.
- The longer you wait to learn how to market to black people as a segment, the longer it’s going to take before you collect the revenue the 14% of that population represents.
- No matter what destination you’re in you have to market to a new segment, particularly as the country is changing.
- Earl shares that the outdoor industry is the most segregated industry in the world and it is an opportunity to change lives and to unite folks together.
Resources Mentioned in the Podcast:
Earl Hunter: [00:00:20] We created Black Folks Camp Too to get black folks to camp with any and everyone because honestly, I believe the outdoors is where our country and where the world is going to meet and going to have unity.
Adam Stoker: [00:00:20] Hello everyone. Welcome to another episode of the Destination Marketing Podcast. I’m your host, Adam Stoker. We’re excited to have you with us today. We’ve got a great show. We’re recording today on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and we’re excited to have a great conversation with a friend of ours. His name is Earl Hunter, and he is the Founder and President of Black Folks Camp Too. Earl, welcome to the show.
Earl Hunter: [00:00:41] Thank you so much. I appreciate you for having me, and I’m excited to be here on a beautiful day, which is MLK Day. So, thank you.
Adam Stoker: [00:00:52] That’s right. It’s a special day, and I’m sure we’ll get plenty of opportunities to talk about it today. But I think it’s definitely appropriate that we’re having the conversation we’re having today.
Earl Hunter: [00:01:02] Right on. You know, I think Monday is my favorite day of the week anyway, but today I say, hey, this is King day. We celebrate it today and we are going to take that legacy and continue to drive it as we go out through the year 2001 and beyond.
Adam Stoker: [00:01:21] Great.
Earl Hunter: [00:01:22] 2021 and beyond.
Adam Stoker: [00:01:23] Yeah, 2021, that’s right. The years are kind of blend in together here.
Earl Hunter: [00:01:28] Right on, it is.
Adam Stoker: [00:01:30] Well, you know, Earl, Black Folks Camp Too is a really interesting organization, and I’m excited to talk with you about it. But before we get into that, I’ve got a couple of ice breaker questions I’d like to ask. So I’m going to ask the same ones of you. First, I’d like to ask what is your dream destination, Earl? If you could go anywhere in the world, where would that be?
Earl Hunter: [00:01:49] Anywhere in the world, I got to be frank with you, I’ve been to quite a few places in the world, Asia, South America, and all those places. I think that the place I would like to go is Iceland.
Adam Stoker: [00:02:04] Iceland, that’s a good answer. Why Iceland for you?
Earl Hunter: [00:02:09] I think I would like to go to Iceland because I had never even, up until last year, oh, actually, a few years ago, I never really even thought about Iceland in any of my conversations until I had an opportunity to go to Nova Scotia. I had a conversation with a young man, he told me about Iceland and how amazing it is. And I said, hey, I think I want to go. So, I think I would like to experience the climate in the wintertime. And I’d like to see how folks survive in that particular climate, and hopefully, find some unity there as well.
Adam Stoker: [00:02:45] I like it. Okay. So Iceland, is that on your three-year roadmap, your five-year roadmap, or as soon as the lockdowns end?
Earl Hunter: [00:02:53] Well, probably as soon as the lockdown ends because being in the outdoor industry for me, I try to find any way to get out of the outdoors, and I think it would be pretty cool to go to Iceland and experience it and see if there’s the warm feeling that I think that is there, all those colder climate places in the winter. The other thing is, though, I had an opportunity to go to Quebec, and I’ve been there quite a few times and feeling that cold air, and really understanding the climate of just being chilly, I like that. So, I want to try to go to Iceland to see if that climate actually is exciting, as it was in Quebec.
Adam Stoker: [00:03:36] Great. Okay. What about your favorite place you’ve ever been, Earl?
Earl Hunter: [00:03:40] So, the favorite place I’ve ever been, my son and I took an amazing trip around the country, and we were out for three months, and we camped at 49 campgrounds in 20 states. The favorite place that he and I, I think, that we enjoy more than anything was in British Columbia. We’re in Vancouver. We’re in Victoria, and it was amazing. We had an opportunity to go see a whale and also camp and enjoy the city. And Victoria Island was amazing. We did a lot of things there. So, that probably is my favorite trip that I’ve ever taken.
Adam Stoker: [00:04:17] I’ve got to imagine part of the reason that such a special trip for you is to get to take it with your son.
Earl Hunter: [00:04:22] Absolutely. He was seven years old at the time. We were going for three months. We camp. We met a lot of people. We saw a lot of folks that didn’t look like us, and they saw us and we didn’t look like them, so, we have some amazing conversations. We really explore life with one another at that time. And I do have an eight-year-old daughter now. He’s 10 now. And she and I also had an opportunity to do a similar trip. So, the trip with those two was amazing. But the one out, again, in British Columbia, was amazing.
Adam Stoker: [00:04:56] Yeah, there’s something about making memories with your kids that it just stands out, right? I had the opportunity to take a couple of my daughters down to Vernal, Utah, and do a whitewater rafting trip. It was just so fun that we didn’t do anything dangerous. It was pretty mundane, I shouldn’t say mundane because for their age, these were aggressive rapids but it’s not like our lives were in danger or anything like that, right?
Earl Hunter: [00:05:20] Right on.
Adam Stoker: [00:05:21] But it was just a wonderful trip to spend that time with my kids. And it’s a special thing to be able to do that.
Earl Hunter: [00:05:29] Yeah, I think any time you get a chance to spend time with any of your family members, particularly your children. My children are young and they get an opportunity to experience life through my glasses, my lens and I get a chance to see it through this. My son actually taught me a lot on the trip that we took too because we traveled over 14,000 miles. So, we had an opportunity to go to Mount Rushmore and the Badlands in that nature. And my son taught me that buffalo are not in America, they are bison. And so I learned that bison are in America and buffalo are not. So, I had the opportunity to have a really good time with my boy. And it was cool. So, you’re right.
Adam Stoker: [00:06:13] Of all the stops on that trip, what do you think was his favorite? And I want to know the same for your daughter, too.
Earl Hunter: [00:06:18] You know, it’s funny. On that trip, because it was just him and I, I think the trip that he loved the most, the area was Denver, Colorado, because he is a Denver Broncos fan. I don’t know. I think he was a Peyton Manning fan. And so what happened, when we got an opportunity, we went to the stadium, but he didn’t know that I knew people in high places and I actually got an opportunity– We didn’t just go to the stadium, we went inside the stadium. He got a chance to hold a Super Bowl ring.
Adam Stoker: [00:06:48] Oh, wow.
Earl Hunter: [00:06:49] That was a big deal for him. But again, there were numerous places like Mount Rushmore was huge for us as well. We basically took the trip because we wanted to go see Mount Rushmore, And I remember driving up to Mount Rushmore like that maybe a five-mile stretch, my son and I were listening to music, having a good time and then we both started to cry because we wanted to be there. And it was something that we had talked about for some time. My daughter, she and I went the opposite way. We went from Illinois to Hershey, Pennsylvania. She wanted to go to the Hershey factory. So, we drove and we got a chance to smell all the chocolate, got a chance to do all the amusing parts and all that kind of good stuff. But we also had an opportunity to camp as well. So, we kind of got a two in one.
Adam Stoker: [00:07:42] That’s perfect. Well, good stuff. Thanks for letting us get to know you a little bit, Earl. I think it would be really good for us to hear a little bit about your background and how you kind of got into the tourism industry.
Earl Hunter: [00:07:55] Well, it’s funny because I didn’t get into the tourism industry until really about five years ago. My background is, I’ve always been for the last 15 or 20 years, I’ve been an executive in various industries, particularly, before I got into the outdoor industry. Before I got into the destination industry per se, I was the vice president of a company. We did a lot of sourcing in different countries and things of that nature. So, that allowed me to travel to, again to Asia, India, South America, Mexico, things of that nature. And so my thought process, I had gone to a lot of different places. I’ve visited a lot of different countries. I’ve stayed in probably some of the best accommodation and probably some of the worst. So, I understood both.
The other thing is that being at my level, I had an opportunity to experience how destinations and how hotels and car services and things of that nature accommodated you. Some were really good and some won’t do it at all. So, what I learned in that particular space is that when I got into the outdoor industry, I really wanted to express myself and really show folks that the outdoor industry, and that destinations and things of that nature was a place that I could help, an industry that I can actually drive. And the industry that was important not only to myself. It was important to me. I think it’s important to everybody’s family. Again, it allowed me to really dive in and get excited about this industry.
So, for me, the outdoor industry from a destination place is what I do and what I love. And we, as a company, want to see more black folks in the outdoors. So, being in that industry, being in the outdoor industry is what brought me to Black Folks Camp Too as the founder and the president of our company.
Adam Stoker: [00:09:48] Well Earl, tell me a little bit about that because you went from being an executive in a couple of different industries, obviously had a lot of success in your career, and you said, “You know what? I’m going to start a company Black Folks Camp Too.” I know the effort is to get more black people into the outdoors and to get them utilizing a lot of the resources, natural resources that we have available to us in the country. Tell me how that came about?
Earl Hunter: [00:10:14] So, I talked about that trip with my son and I took around the country. But before that, the RV industry is about $144 billion industry, right? And I, before getting into the lifestyle, I had never been to camp in a day in my life. I tell people all the time I was a Louis Vuitton, Gucci wearing, Italian suit, sports car driving executive, really driving the business in the international space. And the opportunity to come and drive a company, in the camping industry that sole campers was something was probably as anomaly to me. I didn’t know anything about camping, but what I did know is it was an amazing product, and I also knew that there weren’t many black folks actually at a level that I was actually going to be in this particular company. And I knew I could make a difference.
So, what happened is that as I went through this process of four years of really driving the business and having a lot of success at this particular company, as a matter of fact, when I arrived at the company, the company had done $815,000 in sales for about 10 years in a row, and my job was to get us to the $5 million point in the next 3 to 4 years. And what happened, we exploded it. As the vice president of sales, my job was to drive it, and we actually did $17.5 million in four years.
Adam Stoker: [00:11:34] Wow.
Earl Hunter: [00:11:35] And so doing that, though, I was on the road a lot. The company I was with before, we had private planes to accompany that I had to hop in the truck and drive around the country and sell in a small camper to RV dealers. While doing that, I noticed at doing all the shows and things of that nature, I was the only black executive, and sometimes the only black person in the building of thousands and thousands and thousands of people, whether that be in the industry, or whether it be in the lifestyle, or whether it be me traveling around the country stand at campgrounds, stand at places, cabins and things of that nature. I found myself being the only black person in those particular spaces.
And so my son and I took the trip around the country and we camped. I was doing business. We, also, out of 49 campgrounds, 20 states, 14,000 miles, three months, we saw one black family in New Mexico. And that is how I really got the idea and the thought process of, hey, we have to change this. There are some things that have to be changed. There are some people that are missing some things out here in the outdoors. And then I really have to go get some facts on why black folks were not in the outdoors, in the industry, or in the lifestyle.
Adam Stoker: [00:12:52] Well, I want to get into that, Earl. But first of all, let’s talk about, Black Folks Camp Too as an organization, what do you do?
Earl Hunter: [00:13:04] As an organization, we are a marketing company. The best way to explain this is that we’re the bridge. We are the bridge between the outdoor industry and black folks. Our job is to remove fear, to add knowledge, and to invite more black folks into the outdoor lifestyle. Our job also, is to remove fear, add knowledge and show the industry how to invite us into the outdoor industry, and also share them why we’re not in the outdoor industry. And show them also to let them know, hey, we black folks spend $1.3 trillion a year, yet we only make up 14% of the population. Why aren’t we in the outdoor industry? Why aren’t we in the outdoor lifestyle? Why aren’t you selling your boots, your tent, your RVs, anything that you sell in the outdoor industry? Why aren’t you selling those items to black folks?
And we’re saying to black folks all of this beautiful land, all this beautiful public lands, all these cool campgrounds, all of these amazing amusement parks in campgrounds, and we don’t do any of that. So, our job again is to bridge the two people, the two interested together. And we’re doing that in a way that is actually pretty simple, but it is unique in how we’re actually driving that.
Adam Stoker: [00:14:29] Yeah, I think it’s interesting how you talk about how you’re the bridge between black people and the outdoor industry, and vice versa, and your job is to remove fear on both sides. When you and I talked before, you actually surprised me a little bit, and you mentioned that you feel like black people are afraid to utilize outdoor resources and to go camping. Tell me a little bit about that.
Earl Hunter: [00:14:52] Well, it’s not what I feel like. It’s actually a fact. One of the things we have to do as a company, because when you’re dealing in a space like this is very sensitive, I always tell our staff we don’t deal on opinions. As a matter of fact, we had to spend a ton of money to get data on why black folks we’re not in the outdoors? Why we didn’t enjoy the outdoors? Why you didn’t see us buying RVs like you see us by cars? Why you don’t see us going to cabins like you see as buying houses because there’s a lot of generational fear. When you have generational fear about the outdoors, and the outdoors to most black folks, particularly, black folks in the South, the outdoors is the most heinous place in the world because some of the most horrific things that ever done to black folks happened in the woods.
So, that’s not wanted to go in the woods. It is, again, a generational fear. Well, my great grandmother would tell my grandmother, would tell my mother, would tell me, don’t go in the woods because the Boogeyman is in the woods. And to make sure that we’re very candid about this, the boogeyman for us were white folks. So, the industry, there’s a stereotype that the industry, that outdoor industry within black folks in the black community, that industry is for white folks. And our job as a company is to help remove that fear, add some knowledge, and invite black folks to enjoy the outdoors and help remove some of those stereotypes, because black folks do camp. That’s the name of our company, Black Folks Camp Too. And the Too means also and as well. But our job is to get more black folks to enjoy the outdoors.
As a matter of fact, if you talk to anyone in the outdoor industry, they may even have those same questions, why black folks don’t camp? And there have been questions and things have been said in regards to, we don’t have any access, we don’t have any money, we don’t have these things. But the bottom line is this fear, and no one really even talked about the fear, right?
So, again, we have a very sensitive job on both ends because we have to make sure that folks feel like they’re safe, feel like they’re excited about being in the outdoors. And while we’re doing that, we have to make sure that companies know that they can now promote and sell their products to those particular individuals without fear like they’re pandering for business.
Adam Stoker: [00:17:20] Right. And I think that’s such an important point that you make because I think people can tell when they’re being talked down to, right?
Earl Hunter: [00:17:28] Absolutely.
Adam Stoker: [00:17:29] And if you structure your message in the wrong way, it’s not going to feel authentic. So, if I’m understanding correctly, not only do you help organizations understand how to market more effectively to black people, but also not to have a pandering message, not to have a message that that feels like it’s not authentic.
Earl Hunter: [00:17:50] Well, I think that one of the biggest things that people really need, particularly the industry, listen, you’re doing business, and when you do business, you have to market to the customers you want to buy your product. One of the biggest reason why black folks have not gone to campgrounds, or have not gone to some of these amazing campgrounds, have not purchased RVs, have not purchased tents, because the industry never asked them. They never said, black folks, we want your money. We want you to spend your money with us. And the reason why many of them, many of those companies in the industry have not done that is because they don’t know how, number one. And number two, they’re afraid they’re going to say something that is going to offend someone because they don’t know the reason why we don’t go in the outdoors.
So, when you don’t know the reasons why, you certainly can’t market to a person to get them to buy your product. What you’ll find is you will continue to invite these individuals to go camping, to buy your products, and things of that nature, and you don’t see the results, so you don’t do it anymore. Well, if you get to the root cause of why these folks do not want to be in the outdoors and it’s because of fear, the first place you start is to remove the fear, and then you add some knowledge, and then you invite.
And that’s what we’ve been able to do and our clients have been excited about this. As a matter of fact, we know they’re excited. We have great data and results based on our content and based on our data from start to finish. And so again, this is not rocket science, but it has to be a way, and it has to be calculated in regards to how you drive this particular narrative in regards to encourage more black folks to join the outdoor lifestyle.
Adam stoker: [00:19:38] Yeah, I think it’s also really interesting. You talked about how black folks make up 14% of the population, and yet such a small percentage of people that used the outdoors. And you talked about how it’s a little bit of a generational thing where the great grandmother tells the mother, or tells the grandmother, tells the mother, tells the child. And I think the outdoor industry as a whole makes the assumption that people that are buying their products are the only people that want to buy their products. In reality, you told me in our previous call that you feel like, sorry, I keep saying you feel like, that black people aren’t educated on the basics of camping because it wasn’t part of their culture growing up.
Earl hunter: [00:20:25] Absolutely.
Adam Stoker: [00:20:26] Because there’s a level of education that has to happen there in order to generate that consumer.
Earl Hunter: [00:20:30] Education in anything is the most important thing. Before I go buy RV, I need to be educated on such. I don’t need to be educated on the unit. I need to be educated on the financing of it. I need to be educated on if it breaks down, how do I fix it. Who’s going to do that? Yet, black folks ride past RV dealerships every single day. It’s been said that black folks didn’t have the money to buy RVs yet that’s not true, because there are a lot of high end vehicles, whether it be Mercedes, Lexus, Ford, all those places are advertising to black folks. Yet when you look around, the RV industry is not doing that as a whole.
As matter of fact, if you look at any RV shows, I’ve gone to every single RV show in North America, not in just United States, but in North America, and many times I’m the only black person there. But if you look at the advertising and how it’s being skewed, it is skewed to folks that don’t look like me. So, the people that don’t look like me are always coming. So, we are at the toe of the elephant right now. We’re at the toenail, actually, into driving black folks in regards to the outdoor industry.
And culturally, you’re right. We haven’t been there, because culturally, again, that fear has kept us from doing that. But now that we have become more educated in our spending, companies are marketing to us and asking us for our money, what I’m saying to the outdoor industry, you’re actually doing yourself a disservice by not asking black folks for their dollars. Before you do that, we have to be educated in our company, and that’s what we do, we educate black folks about the outdoor industry.
Adam Stoker: [00:22:16] I love it. When we talked before, one of the other things that came up is, a lot of our listeners are destinations, right? They generate revenues by getting people to come stay in their campsites, hotels and spend money and other assets within the destination. The question that they have to ask themselves is, do we market to the people that are most likely to come kind of low-hanging fruit? Or do we try to open up a new segment when we’re not totally sure what that return on investment will be? You coined a new term to me that I want to talk about when we come back. We are going to take a quick break and then we’ll talk about this term that I love, that you at least for me, you coined.
Okay guys, since we started the Destination Marketing podcast a little over a year ago, I’ve had several destinations reach out and say, “Hey, could you help me start a podcast?” At first we were like, “Well no, that’s not really what we do.” After enough request, we said, “You know what let’s explore this.” We’ve created a turnkey program for destinations where we will produce, we will host, we will edit, and we will publish your podcast for your destination on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis. All you have to do is show up and answer some questions. We are really excited about this program. We’ve got a few destinations that have been doing really, really well with their podcast.
If you’ve ever thought about creating a podcast for your destination, but you don’t have all the equipment or you don’t have the expertise or any of that type of stuff, let us take that off your hands. Let Relic handle your podcast creation and production, and all you have to do is show up and answer questions about all the amazing things there are to do within your destination. Let me know if you’re interested. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get you set up on this podcast program.
[00:24:22] Okay, Earl, when I asked you before about the idea of, do I spend the money on low-hanging fruit or do I open up a new segment and try to get a new audience? I asked you about the return on investment of doing something like that and your response. You said it’s not return on investment, its return on inclusion. Tell me —
Earl Hunter: [00:24:41] Exactly. It’s return on inclusion. Here’s the thing. The world is changing. If you haven’t seen that in the last year, particularly last year, and the last two years, the world, the country, our country is changing. Our country is changing rapidly. Anything that was normal to 50, 60 years ago is not normal now. Right? Black folks being in the outdoors wasn’t normal, but it’s going to be normal now because not only just with COVID but also some of the, just the reality of the fact that a company like ours and other companies are pushing black folks into the outdoors so that the investment is return on inclusion. The investment that companies have to decide is not, do they want black folks at their destination, is get yourself prepared for black folks to be, to come to your destiny and get excited when we get there. Right? Not only do they get excited when we get there, understand that we don’t know everything about the outdoor industry that we’re going to need people to walk us through the process.
These destinations have to be prepared to do that. Otherwise, what they’re going to be doing is they’re going to be frustrated because they’re going to have a customer who’s arriving that they marketed to. They may or may not thought that customers would come and they’re going to come to these campgrounds. They’re going to come and want to have these amazing experience and don’t really know what to do. They’re going to need folks to really share that information with them. What we’re saying as a company, “Why don’t you just put that information out there? Right? Why don’t you just put the information out there so the customer can learn? Right? As you’re spending your marketing dollars to really drive that new customer into your space? As folks have within the camp industry, what we’ve seen is again. This is a lifestyle. Right?
Once you get folks hooked on the lifestyle of going to destinations and enjoying that, whether you are black, white, green and yellow, it doesn’t matter. You have to educate folks about your industry. I say this to folks in the industry, particularly the outdoor industry. If you do not want more black folks to enjoy the outdoor industry, going to enjoy the lifestyle and to enjoy your destinations, just go ahead and tell us that but otherwise you’re going to have to market to us to get us there. Right?
Adam Stoker: [00:27:03] In reality, there shouldn’t be any destination out there that doesn’t want more revenue, regardless of the audience segment.
Earl Hunter: [00:27:11] Right.
Adam Stoker: [00:27:12] But in order to be successful, you’re going to have to do the work. I think one of the issues is that people get a little nervous about, “Okay, well, if I spend money here and I can’t see an immediate return, then I can’t view it as a success.” The reality is, the longer you wait to learn how to market to black people as a segment –
Earl Hunter: [00:27:36] Right.
Adam Stoker: [00:27:37] The longer it’s going to take before you collect the revenue that 14% of that population represent.
Earl Hunter: [00:27:41] Absolutely.
Adam Stoker: [00:27:42] That’s right.
Earl Hunter: [00:27:23] When I tell folks this all the time, my son is 10 years old. Are we going to wait until my son is 24 years old when we get a chance to make some money to start marketing to him and advertising to him about the outdoors? Are you going to wait until folks just start coming to your campground and not knowing what to do? And now you have folks that do know what to do, or they don’t know what to do and they’re frustrated? Or do you want to be on the opposite side of it and start teaching and advertising so that you’re not reactionary? The bottom line is you must spend dollars to advertise to folks into a different segment. Otherwise you’re going to lose so much. You are going to lose your current customer just to faith. You’re going to lose that current customer to, maybe they want to do something else and you don’t have any more customers in the pipeline?
No matter what destination you’re in, whether it be camping hotels or whatever it may be, you have to market to a new segment, particularly as the country is changing. Particularly as from an economic perspective, there’s no more thought process of “black folks” who don’t have any money or people of color don’t have any money. We have a ton of money and we will spend our money with folks who are going to ask us to spend our money. We know that to be true, because if you look at all of the other companies out there who are asking for our dollars, they are not asking for our dollars, and we’re not, I’m sorry, we are not asking for them to give us a discount. We’re spending our money where folks are advertising to us.
Again, companies should have to make a decision. They’re going to have to make a decision whether they want a new customer or not because if you don’t want a new customer, then that’s bad business because I think everyone wants to make more money. Everyone wants to gain more revenue and the thing about it is that we have a formula that we use, that we’ve been able to drive the business within the outdoor space, and it’s beautiful to be frank with you.
Adam Stoker: [00:29:47] Absolutely. I feel like one of the things that I was fascinated about with when we talk before was your message is not a message of division. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
Earl Hunter: [00:30:00] Absolutely.
Adam Stoker: [00:30:01] It’s a message of unity. In fact, as you bring the outdoor industry, which historically has been predominantly dominated by white people.
Earl Hunter: [00:30:10] Right.
Adam Stoker: [00:30:11] You’re connecting that industry with black people who traditionally have been hesitant to go to the outdoors. It’s a message of unity and you’re bringing them together. In fact, you created the Unity Flame. Tell —
Earl Hunter: [00:30:24] The Unity Blaze, yeah. I normally say this, Adam, when I get on the conversation with folks and I should have said it to you earlier. Listen, this is a safe conversation, right? I tell people this all the time. Even when we’re talking about the outdoor industry, a lot of folks are afraid to talk about the facts, of the facts that the outdoor industry is 90% white, it’s as simple as that. It’s the most segregated industry in the world. Right? That’s a fact. With that being said, that’s not an issue, that’s an opportunity. Right? That’s an opportunity to change folks’ lives. That’s an opportunity for us to bring folks together because we believe — listen, Black Folks Camp Too was created not just to get black folks to go camping with black folks. That would just look like what the industry looks like, right?
We created Black Folks Camp Too to get black folks to camp with any and everyone because, honestly, I believe the outdoors is where our country and where the world is going to meet and going to have unity. Well, if you have 90% of the folks who are in the outdoor industry in the lifestyle of white and you have 0.8% of black folks that are not in the industry, well, we believe let’s just go ahead and start pushing and pulling black folks until the lifestyle, particularly in the camping lifestyle. Now we all, whether it would be black folks, people of color, white folks, whoever now we all are around this campfire and we start having some amazing conversations.
What will happen is we believe that in those amazing conversations, folks will find out that they have 80% same and 20% differences. Right now, what we have is everybody is focusing on 80% of their differences instead of 20% of their sames. The campfire in our logo, which we call the Unity Blaze. It is the blaze that has a very beautiful meaning. It means treating everyone and everywhere equally and they don’t care. We don’t care who you are. If we do that, if we had that type of harmony anywhere and everywhere, we’ll find that we’ll have that type of harmony also amongst the folks that are actually coming to those destination locations.
Listen, I’m in business, you are in a business that a lot of folks who listen to this podcast have experienced a lot of things within our country. I believe that unity is the most important thing, right? That we need today, tomorrow and forever.
Adam Stoker: [00:32:50] I agree with that wholeheartedly, Earl and especially on a day like today, it’s a great day to be talking about unity.
Earl Hunter: [00:32:57] Absolutely.
Adam Stoker: [00:32:59] I want to ask you a couple of questions. First of all, with the Unity Blaze. You have a vision of this image of the Unity Blaze being displayed everywhere —
Earl Hunter: [00:33:12] Yes.
Adam Stoker: [00:33:13] — where everyone is welcome.
Earl Hunter: [00:33:14] Absolutely.
Adam Stoker: [00:33:15] Tell me something about that.
Earl Hunter: [00:33:16] We started this amazing mission. Right? There are a lot of groups out there that really wanted to get black folks just to camp with black folks there. Groups out there, you could tell it was just white folks just camping white folks. They seem like they didn’t want to really have it integrated. What we’re saying to the world is that we believe that our Unity Blaze should be everywhere, not just in campgrounds, but everywhere. When folks see the Unity Blaze, flying that flag or seeing that decal on your door or seeing that patch on your backpack, on your sweater, on your T-shirt, it means that person wearing that Unity Blaze is intentionally telling you, you and you that they treat everyone equally everywhere.
When you start to have that conversation, it makes it easier when you see that. It makes it easy for a person who wants to come into your business. It makes it easy for a person who wants to have a conversation with you. It stops the stereotyping right there at its core, right. It allows folks to have amazing conversations and then again if nothing else, you start talking about why the Unity Blaze has been important to you, right? Companies within their organizations also should want to have unity within the organization.
Listen, I’m an athlete, and I know for a fact whenever we were divided as a team, whenever we were on the sidelines just going at each other, we lost games. Whenever we were jailed together. Whenever we were unified, we won a ton of games, right? With that being said, not only externally but internally, companies should want to have unity, right? They should want to treat everyone everywhere equally and not only that they should want to display that. Who wouldn’t want to tell the world that they treat everyone everywhere equally?
For us, we’ve driven this message to RV dealers, RV manufacturers, and outdoor retailers, sooner or later, everyone. We’ve sold thousands of Unity Blaze patches and stickers and things of that nature. Sooner or later, everyone is going to have the blaze and they’re going to be flying this. The folks that are not flying it are going to be the ones who are ostracized. It’s kind of how we figure it.
Adam Stoker: [00:35:46] Well, I love the message of unity there. It’s such a simple concept, right. When you’re around a campfire usually the people around that campfire feel pretty comfortable if they’ll just sit —
Earl Hunter: [00:35:57] Absolutely.
Adam Stoker: [00:35:58] and chat together. I think the Unity Blaze is a great representation of that.
Earl Hunter: [00:36:03] You know
Adam Stoker: [00:36:04] Go ahead.
Earl Hunter: [00:36:05] I was going to say, I think one of the things that we’ve done as a company, we have to get a lot of data. We took folks out camping. We took folks in all types of camping RV-ing, hammock, cabin, just to get data, just to read it and understand experiences. I got to tell you the campfire, that campfire is where some amazing conversation happened. As a matter of fact, we say that is the portal to an amazing conversation. It doesn’t matter your race, your age or your gender. We talk about everything around that campfire and folks felt safe in having those conversations and some tough conversations.
I think again, one of the reasons why we’ve had such a tough time in our country is because we haven’t been talking enough, right? Hopefully and well, I won’t even say hopefully, I know that the Unity Blaze is going to take off. I know it’s going to be the symbol that represents not only just unity in the outdoors but unity all over.
Adam Stoker: [00:37:08] I like it. Well, let’s recap because I think we’ve covered a lot of stuff today. One, why do you want to market to black folks if that’s not a current segment of who comes to your destination. I would say one is your opening up the opportunity for generations of visitors, right?
Earl Hunter: [00:37:27] Absolutely.
Adam Stoker: [00:37:28] A new revenue source that’s not a current audience segment for you now and then also return on inclusion of having more people feel included at your destination. I think one thing that we’ve missed, Earl and I think we probably need to wrap up with this question. COVID presented an interesting challenge to the United States and to the world. I think what COVID is going to do is take this audience segment, which is black folks of 14% of the population and they are going to be driven to the outdoors.
Earl Hunter: [00:38:01] Yes.
Adam Stoker: [00:38:02] They want to recreate and they can’t do it in the normal ways that they’ve been doing it in the past. How can destinations capitalize on the opportunity that COVID provides?
Earl Hunter: [00:38:11] Well, think about it like this. All right. During COVID and during some of the civil unrest that was going on in our country, particularly during COVID, the folks who really enjoyed the outdoors, were black folks. Black folks are really stuck in their homes trying to figure out what to do because again, they knew nothing. They know nothing about the outdoors, nothing about going camping and things of that nature. Although the RV industry was absolutely booming and the outdoor industry was booming, they probably saw a slight tick into a new customer, right. The industry felt really good about that. They were like, “Oh yeah, we were seeing more black folks.”
First of all, it shouldn’t take a pandemic for that to happen, number one. Number two is that the slight uptick wasn’t enough based on what we know, because what the outdoor industry, I tell folks all the time is that I grew up a Good Times kid. If you don’t know what the show Good Times is, you probably want to YouTube it right. I grew up a Good Times kid, grew up just like that, grew up in the hood, and all of that kind of stuff, right? But I live a Huxtable lifestyle and what that being said, our job to the industry to say, “Listen, don’t just go out to that customer who you feel has the enormous amount of money. The customer who’s really going to drive your business is that working-class customer who is right there on the edge if they’re going to take a vacation for two days, or they’re going to take one for five days, and they’re trying to figure out how they’re going to do this on an amazing budget.
Those are the folks, those are the consumers who are sitting in their homes, not knowing anywhere to go where they normally would go to an amusement park, with amusement parks closed or whatever it may be the outdoors should have been presented to them as an option and it only was presented it to them by us in 2020 at the time. It wasn’t presented by the entities that actually the industry. The industry didn’t say, “Black folks we know you’re stuck at home, we know COVID is here, we know it’s a tough time, come out and enjoy our campgrounds. They weren’t many that did that. I know that because I would be frank with you, my family and I, we went to a campground of 1300 spaces. 1300 and we’re the only black folks there.
If that’s not an opportunity, I don’t know what else to tell you. Here’s the other thing, though. Adam. There may be some campgrounds or some places of destinations that may just say in their heart, “I really don’t want black folks to come to our destination.” If that’s the case, then okay, I get it. You know what? You have to deal with that. In regards to the folks that really, truly want to see a revenue boost who really, truly want to not only just do it for the pockets, but do it for the heart and do it for the unity part, we really, honestly need to have a conscious effort to advertise to folks that you have not advertised to in the past.
Adam Stoker: [00:41:12] Well, I love it, Earl. I think this is great advice that you’ve given us today. I would guess that a lot of our listeners are going to have questions about how to more effectively market the outdoors to black folks. Could you give us your information on how people can get a hold of you if they have additional questions?
Earl Hunter: [00:41:29] Absolutely. Our website is very, very simple. It is very cool. It’s blackfolkscamptoo.com or you can email at email@example.com. We have a litany of clients. I mean, from some of the biggest outdoor industry partners in the country to some small campgrounds. They all get the same treatment. We treat them all with the notion of contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org. we will evaluate you, evaluate your company to make sure that you really want to go and drive it and to invite a new customer to your space. We are a small team but we are very mighty. We drive the business, and our only mission is to get more black folks in the outdoors so we can create unity in the outdoors and unity around not just any outdoors but with all destinations. We just believe that unity is the ticket.
Adam Stoker: [00:42:41] Well said. Earl, thanks so much for your time today.
Earl Hunter: [00:42:44] Right on. Thank you so much, Adam. I hope you guys enjoy and I hope the New Year is amazing because it is going to be amazing for us.
Adam Stoker: [00:42:54] Awesome. Awesome. Well thanks, everybody for listening. This has been another great episode of the Destination Marketing Podcast. If you enjoyed today’s content, please leave us a rating or a review, and other than that, we’ll see you next week.