If you work in the travel industry, you’re always thinking about how best to appeal to your target market, to present yourself to the fickle traveller, and to convince people to book with you and not your competitors.
But how do you target the LGBTQ travel segment? Is it even a defined segment? Is it a segment worth concentrating your marketing spend on?
It’s been reported that the first travel guide written specifically for gay men was published in 1958. It was called The Gray Guide, or Le Guide Gris.
When I first started travelling, it was the Spartacus guide that was every gay man’s travel bible. These days, there are a huge range of online resources – sometimes there’s so much information available that it can be difficult to know who to trust, and it all becomes a little overwhelming.
Of course, not every destination or travel operator is going to be interested in appealing to travellers who identify somewhere within the LGBTQ umbrella - for starters, there’s currently 73 countries where being gay is illegal. But whatever your personal views, it makes total business sense to try and present yourself as a travel option that welcomes LGBTQ travellers.
Some studies estimate that the global LGBTQ population is around 450 million people, and that the global spending power of this segment is somewhere around USD$3.7 trillion per annum. Researchers also estimate that LGBTQ people in the US travel twice as much as the average American.
What do LGBTQ people look for when choosing where to spend their vacation? Obviously, there’s a lot of variation. People that identify within the LGBTQ community are a diverse bunch. But some of the influencing factors could include:
- LGBTQ travellers generally like some assurance that they’re going to be welcome without any requirement that they pretend to be someone that they’re not. Some indication that no one is going to gasp in shock if a same-sex couple asks for a double-room.
- LGBTQ travellers generally like to know that there’s something of interest for them in the place that they’re going. Is there a good beach? What’s the nightlife like? Is it a place of historical or cultural interest? It doesn’t have to be gay gay gay, but LGBTQ travellers want some sense that wherever they’re going is a place where it’s worth spending some time.
- LGBTQ travellers tend to prefer places where they’re not made to feel like a total tourist. Where are the bars where the locals drink? What’s a good local restaurant? Today’s travellers want something that feels a bit authentic, a bit unique.
Engaging with LGBTQ travellers isn’t necessarily straightforward - the LGBTQ media landscape is evolving rapidly, reflecting and partly driving wider trends such as the rise in mobile devices and the changing way in which consumers access and share information.
No one really has any answers on how the media landscape will further evolve in the coming years, but we can be confident that LGBTQ consumers will be at the forefront of technological and social change - that’s why testing innovative and forward-thinking travel campaigns with the LGBTQ segment is a smart move.
The reality is that there is no silver-bullet big-idea. Getting this right takes time, work, investment, trial and error, and a fair bit of luck.
My one piece of advice is that if you’re going to do this, if you’re going to find a way to engage with the LGBTQ market segment, then get started. Test and trial and learn as you go. If you want to appeal to LGBTQ travellers, then find a way to get started on that journey.