The LGBTQ+ travel market is one of the fastest-growing tourism sectors globally, with recent figures predicting over 180 million gay travellers by 2030.
The market is currently worth £6bn in the United Kingdom alone, which comes as no surprise considering that British gay men travel twice as often as heterosexual men.
What’s more, same-sex couples tend to have a more disposable income, and spend more on holidays, than heterosexual couples. This is largely due to their DINK – also known as ‘dual income, no kids’ – status.
In fact, in 2018, LGBTQ+ travellers in the United States spent US$63.1bn, while their Brazilian and British counterparts spent US$26.8bn and US$11.7bn respectively.
Considering the high value of the ‘pink dollar’ – the name given to the money spent by the gay and lesbian community – many luxury travel companies have made targeting the LGBTQ+ market a priority.
As LGBTQ+ travel experts, we know a thing or two about luxury LGBTQ+ holidays and how to attract the right audience.
If you’re a luxury establishment or high-end boutique hotel with your eyes on this particular sector, this article is for you. So without further ado, welcome to the wonderful world of luxury gay travel!
If you want to attract luxury gay and lesbian travellers, then…
1. Treat everyone the same
We often see luxury brands ‘try too hard’ when it comes to promoting themselves to the LGBTQ+ community.
While it’s important to be LGBTQ+-welcoming, your gay and lesbian guests are just like any other guest and there is no need to treat them any differently.
That being said, there is a common misconception that the gay and lesbian travel market is one homogenous community.
This couldn’t be further from the truth as it is just as segmented as any other market.
Remember that the travel needs of LGBTQ+ individuals could be shaped by their culture, gender, age and religion, as well as the laws on homosexuality back in their home country.
It’s therefore important for luxury hotels to embrace their needs, and show they are welcoming in a subtle way.
‘Rainbow washing’, also known as adding the rainbow flag to all communications, is not only not necessary, but also often frowned upon.
Instead, create a welcome environment for all by aligning your values with those of the LGBTQ+ community.
Embrace diversity in your policies, broadcast your support of LGBTQ+ causes and train all staff how to treat one another in a respective and kind manner.
The most important thing here is to be consistent. Sometimes, luxury brands do huge marketing pushes every June for Pride month, and then go quiet for the rest of the year.
It helps to involve an LGBTQ+ travel specialist when creating your communications strategies as you’ll have a higher chance of seeing successes this way.
You might not even need to look far – sometimes something as simple as asking a gay staff member for their opinion could go a long way.
2. Offer unique experiences
We are seeing more and more LGBTQ+ travellers look for diverse experiences in unique holiday destinations.
They often crave unique and immersive experiences just as much as heterosexual travellers, as long as the destinations are safe to travel to.
For luxury hotels, this can mean anything from offering exquisite culinary experiences to personalising a couple’s stay according to their own preferences.
For example, if you know a gay couple is celebrating their anniversary during their stay, sending them a hand-written card and some spa vouchers would be a nice touch.
Or, if you know your guest is a lover of good food, email them a list of top restaurants in the area prior to their stay.
Essentially, the more you are able to offer tailor-made holidays to suit their needs, the more you will stand out as a hotel of choice amongst potential guests.
Give them a luxury experience they can’t get elsewhere, and they will return.
3. Stay ahead of LGBTQ+ trends
As the number of adults identifying as LGBTQ+ is growing, so are the number of countries that legalise gay marriage.
It is now legal for an LGBTQ+ couple to get married in a total of 28 countries, including Ireland, where it was legalised just last year.
The latest research estimates that currently, 17% of gay men and 16% of lesbian women today are married.
Unsurprisingly, LGBTQ+ honeymoon trips are rising dramatically, with The Guardian estimating that honeymoon bookings have increased by 279% over the past five years.
Luxury hotels situated in top honeymoon destinations are now scrambling to offer romantic packages that appeal to a gay audience.
A good place to start is to update your messaging to include ‘same-sex couples’ as well as ‘bride and groom’ to show that you are open to all.
Another fast-moving trend amongst the LGBTQ+ community is the idea of raising a family, as 3% of gay men and 19% of lesbian women are currently estimated to have children in the United States.
And with the number of LGBTQ+ families growing fast, hotels are receiving more and more bookings from same-sex couples with children.
For luxury resorts, the key thing is to provide services that suit the needs of LGBTQ+ families, such as day-care facilities or optional nanny services.
4. Tell your story with user-generated content
Now more than ever, travellers are looking for holiday inspiration online before booking luxury getaways.
As such, updating your online presence with fresh content is more important than ever.
To show up in relevant online searches, post blog articles about local attractions and luxury experiences that may be interesting to an LGBTQ+ audience.
Including information on local Pride events, for example, is a good place to start as it will give you an opportunity to offer special Pride packages as well.
Have a read of our tips on how to increase bookings for World Pride for inspiration before you start!
Not only will this content keep your website updated (which is important for SEO), it also makes for great stories to share on social media.
Which brings us to our next point: user-generated content (UGC). UGC, which can be photos, videos or reviews posted by guests, helps give your hotel authenticity.
Recent statistics found that 79% of people said that UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions, and find it to be 9.8 times more impactful than influencer content.
Encourage your LGBTQ+ guests to share snaps of their hotel stay on Instagram, for example, and give them a specific hashtag so you’ll be able to find them later.
Re-posting specific UGC that depict luxury, glamour and personalisation will go a long way with LGBTQ+ travellers.
5. Join global trade associations and utilise strategic partnerships
The safety of guests should always be top of mind, and even more so when welcoming LGBTQ+ guests to your hotel.
A great way to show you are serious about creating a safe environment is by joining a global trade association, such as IGLTA and TAG.
Both trade associations list hotels that qualify as being LGBTQ+-welcoming by adhering to certain standards like providing LGBTQ+ diversity and sensitivity training to all staff.
It’s a great form of accreditation and will help increase your hotel’s profile in the sector, particularly amongst guests travelling with families and children.
A further excellent way to boost hotel bookings is to join a global LGBTQ+ consortium, allowing you to be recognised as an LGBTQ+ welcoming hotel on the Global Distribution System (GDS).
There are currently two GDS codes used by OTAs searching for LGBTQ+-welcoming accommodations, namely GY1 and GAY.
Last but not least, we urge luxury hotels to try form strategic partnerships with high-end businesses (including retailers, restaurants or private chauffeur services) that are themselves LGBTQ+-welcoming or loved by the community.
Enter the LGBTQ+ luxury travel market with World Rainbow Hotels
At World Rainbow Hotels, we’re experts at bringing together a global community of gay and lesbian welcoming hotels.
We provide luxury accommodations unprecedented visibility and access to the LGBTQ+ market.
Through a centralised platform, we connect hoteliers with over 24,000 agencies making GDS bookings worldwide.