In his 1869 published book ‘The Innocents Abroad’, American author Mark Twain famously stated that “travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” His message to the world? The more people travel, the more open-minded and accepting they tend to become.
Fast forward to 2019. With the number of adults identifying as gay, bisexual and transgender increasing at a rapid pace, LGBT tourism is now one of the fastest-growing travel sectors worldwide. The LGBT travel market is currently worth £6bn in the United Kingdom, and studies have shown that British gay men travel twice as often as heterosexual men. What’s more, UNWTO research estimates that by 2030, there will be 180 million LGBT travellers worldwide.
As a hotelier, demonstrating that you are gay-friendly and have a good reputation in the international lesbian, gay and bisexual community is key to attracting more LGBT guests. Have a look at Why your hotel’s LGBT friendly reputation is everything for more.
Here are six ways in which hotels can encourage more LGBT clientele and better cater to this growing market:
(1) Offer unique experiences and services
People in same-sex relationships are usually referred to as DINK travellers, or dual income, no kids. As such, LGBT people tend to have a more disposable income, and also spend more on holidays, than heterosexual couples. They’re less likely to see higher costs as an obstacle and also often have a ‘let’s enjoy and live life now’ mentality.
But while they are more inclined to spend more, they also expect high standards. LGBT guests often stay at more luxurious gay-friendly hotels and prefer custom made holidays. As a hotelier, offering unique experiences and services to differentiate yourself from other hotels will surely make you more attractive to an LGBT audience.
(2) Stay up to date with LGBT news
As an LGBT traveller, choosing an inclusive holiday destination that is accepting of all tourists regardless of sexual orientation is extremely important. Unfortunately, over 75 countries still criminalise same-sex relationships. LGBT friendly hotels need to make sure they’re up to date on local LGBT laws so they can give on-site guests the right type of travel advice.
Being aware of the countries that legalise same-sex marriage in the future will help you stay competitive as those destinations will see an upsurge in LGBT travel. For example, since making marriage equality a reality, many more LGBT travellers are now exploring cities such as Mexico City, Lisbon and Buenos Aires. Both Pink News and Gay Travel News are two good sources to remain on top of what’s happening in the LGBT community.
(3) Clear communication is key
When it comes to making LGBT guests feel welcome, being conscious of small details and communicating them clearly is extremely important. If unsure of certain things, such as how to address a same-sex couple, it’s better to just be sensitive and transparent. You can always politely ask your guests for clarification. Details that might seem minor to you could make a huge difference to them, and determine whether or not they’ll pass on a positive review.
At World Rainbow Hotels, we strongly encourage all member hotels to optimise their hotel and location description for an LGBT audience. We also help share important details of how they differ throughout our own marketing channels, including our social media and email newsletters.
(4) Don’t complicate your marketing
While paying extra attention to detail is appreciated, LGBT travellers should be treated just like any other guest. The same goes for your marketing efforts. There’s no need to place too much emphasis on adding the rainbow flag to all communications. Simply stating on your hotel website that you are welcome to all travellers, or that you are a member of IGLTA, will go far enough.
For more information on how to best market to LGBT travellers, have a read of Three ways to target LGBT travellers through your hotel brand identity.
(5) Use appropriate imagery
When it comes to choosing images for your hotel website, keep your LGBT audience in mind. That doesn’t mean you need to plaster your website with photos of gay couples – a photo of a single man in a nice setting will also work. Just remember to have a good mix of images representing both a heterosexual and a gay audience. It might even make sense to create a separate page that solely focuses on attracting LGBT guests, and to then promote it on LGBT friendly digital channels. Which brings us to our next point…
(6) Stand out in the gay scene
As with all other marketing efforts, you want your hotel to be featured in places where your LGBT audience will easily find it. Online, this means utilising the right digital marketing channels. Social media marketing, for example, is a great way to promote your LGBT friendly hotel while keeping your MCPB (marketing cost per booking) down and driving your DRR (direct revenue ratio) up. Offering promotional packages for LGBT events, such as a local Pride Parade, works particularly well. Read our recent article on how to promote your LGBT hotel on social media to learn more.
Another way to attract more LGBT travellers is to make yourself more prominent to travel agencies on the GDS (Global Distribution System). Independent travel agents and OTAs (online travel agencies) use the GDS to search for the best travel and accommodation rates for their clients. A GDS works with different codes that allow agencies to find hotels for all kinds of searches.
The World Rainbow Hotels team launched the only two existing LGBT-specific GDS codes in 2011: GY1 and GAY. With these codes, agencies worldwide can easily find and book LGBT friendly hotels for their clients. If you want to find out more, have a look at LGBT friendly hotels: come out on the GDS.