Why market your Hotel to the gay and lesbian community?

Wed, Jan 27, 2010

Specialty Travel


 The gay and lesbian community is one of the few segments that is not only continuing to travel but continuing to increase their travel budget. Approximately $65 billion per year is spent on travel by gays and lesbians and that number is expected to grow by an additional $20 billion in the next five years.
With real spending on accommodations down by 21.8% in 2009, many hotels are looking to brand themselves as gay friendly properties. According to a study done for the City of Philadelphia’s tourism office revealed that every $1 spent on the reaching out to gay and lesbian travelers generated $153 in visitor spending and that gay overnight visitors spent twice as much as general overnight visitors.
The gay and lesbian community is very choosy about where they spend their money. In order to woo gay travelers a property needs to do more than simply claim to be gay friendly. The gay community actively researches properties before deciding where to stay. Authenticity, in communicating and showing a commitment to the LGBT community is paramount.

How can I make my property more gay-friendly?

What do gay travelers look for in a property and what does it mean to be truly gay friendly? A recent survey by GayTravel.com attempted to answer that question and found the following results:
1. Train your staff to respect LGBT needs – the receptionist should book a same sex couple into a room with a king bed with the same professionalism s/he would book a heterosexual couple. Additionally, a gay couple should be able to hold hands on the property without receiving looks from the maids or bus boys.
2. Train your concierge to be familiar with the local gay scene – Half of survey respondents would be unlikely to return to a property where the concierge did not know where local gay bars and clubs were located.
3. Provide LGBT guests with a welcome pack – Nine out of ten respondents would be likely to return to a hotel that provided them with an LGBT welcome pack.
4. Enforce non-discriminatory hiring practices including sexual orientation.
5. Treat heterosexual and domestic partners equally in personnel policies.
The first three simply require educating your staff on gay and lesbian needs and can be easily achieved by a property. The last two are more long term and can be harder to achieve if your property is owned by a large corporation that writes its own personnel policies.
Once you’ve trained your staff to be gay sensitive, the next step is to let the gay travelers know you want them to come to stay at your property! According to a recent survey by Microtrends, “A whopping 92% of respondents said they had more confidence in information they seek out online than anything coming from a salesclerk or other source. They believe the information they find, not in the information that is spoon-fed to them, and the vast number of clicks today prove that they really are devoting time and energy to ferreting out detailed info before they buy.”

Jessica Carstens works with GayTravel.com, the leading information source to the LGBT community for information on gay friendly destinations, properties and companies. For more information on marketing to the gay and lesbian community, please click here.

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