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Marketing Recreation Services in the Changing Landscape of Race and Ethnic Relations

Leslie Nicole Camarillo, Monika Stodolska, Kimberly J. Shinew

Abstract


The changing landscape of race and ethnic relations in the U.S. has influenced how members of racial and ethnic groups use leisure spaces, engage in leisure activities, and interact with community agencies. These current issues necessitate changes in how leisure organizations market their services to diverse constituents. The objectives of this manuscript are to examine: 1) racial and ethnic minority residents’ concerns about the community and the factors that limit their access to recreation services, and 2) the changes made by the park district to their marketing efforts based on the study’s findings.

This paper focuses on a research project conducted between 2016-2019 in Urbana, Illinois. The data were collected with the use of individual and group interviews with 46 African American, Latinx, and Asian American users and non-users of park districts’ recreation programs and services. Three rounds of interviews with 14 park district managers and staff were also conducted. 

The residents revealed that their concerns in the community were related to the lack of socioeconomic resources, transportation, language barriers, crime, interracial and interethnic tensions, and lack of knowledge of recreation opportunities provided by the park district. Based on these findings, the park district made a number of changes to their marketing efforts, including creating an Outreach and Wellness Office, redesigning marketing materials, providing outreach to the most disadvantaged communities, hiring a Spanish-speaking staff member, and delivering free or heavily discounted recreation programs to over 2,400 ethnic and racial minority youth. 

We recommend that, in addition to the four traditional Ps of marketing (product, place, price, and promotion), recreation agencies who aim to serve ethnically and racially diverse populations include an additional P of marketing—people. The “people” dimension means that agencies recognize diverse constituent groups within the community, assess their recreation needs and constraints with regard to accessing recreation resources; engage with these residents through direct outreach, consultations, and program implementation; and provide programs that are targeted at their unique needs.

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Keywords


Recreation; marketing; diversity; African American; Asian; Latinx

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.18666/JPRA-2019-9725

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