LGBT travel: how to achieve a competitive advantage for your hotel

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Recent figures suggest that there are over 700,000 hotels and resorts worldwide, offering guests a total of 15.5 million rooms. The competitive landscape of the hospitality industry makes it difficult for hotels to stand out without implementing a proper competitive strategy. According to Harvard professor Michael Porter, a hotel’s competitive advantage strategy should lay out the benefit it can provide through its products or services while simultaneously identifying ways to stand out from the competition. 

One great way to stand out is to focus on attracting lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans guests. The LGBT travel market is currently worth over £6bn in the United Kingdom, with research estimating that by 2030, there will be 180 million LGBT travellers worldwide. Differentiating yourself as an LGBT friendly accommodation can thus prove to be very lucrative. 

At World Rainbow Hotels, we’re experts at understanding the gay travel market and helping hotels stand out in the LGBT community. Here’s everything you need to be aware of before you implement a differentiation strategy to target LGBT guests:

(1) An invitation goes a long way

According to recent figures, 75 countries continue to criminalise same-sex relationships today, making it difficult for LGBT travellers to find a safe holiday destination. Even in countries where the law does not discriminate based on sexual orientation, LGBT guests may still struggle to feel welcomed.

This is where you can help out: as part of your local community, showing you are gay welcoming and launching specific campaigns to prove that will go a long way. Hotel chain Hilton, for example, launched a “Stay Hilton, go out” campaign in which they shared photos and videos telling guests’ stories. The campaign was very supportive of equal rights and LGBT people and was an imminent hit amongst the international LGBT community. Sometimes, all you need to do to attract an LGBT audience is to take the first step and invite them!

(2) Stay on top of local LGBT news

A growing number of countries worldwide are currently considering whether to grant legal recognition to same-sex marriages, which makes a destination a lot more likely to receive LGBT guests (especially for honeymoons!) This usually has quite a profound financial impact on local businesses.

To give you an example, when Ireland approved marriage equality by popular vote in May 2015, LGBT travellers around the world saw it as a giant “you are welcome to Ireland” sign. A few months after the referendum, it was estimated that 13% of the hospitality economy was made up of gay and lesbian travellers, contributing $943 million to the Irish economy. Long story short: stay on top of what is going on in the local news, and take advantage of happenings that favour LGBT travellers!

(3) Create a safe space for your guests

When you’re on holiday, the last thing you want to worry about is how you’ll be perceived, or whether you’ll be safe. If you want to stand out as an LGBT friendly hotel, creating a safe space for all of your guests should be your top priority. This includes thorough training for all customer-facing staff in order to avoid any situations that could be perceived as discriminatory. Hotelier Academy lists some great case studies of misunderstandings and situations that could occur at hotels, we encourage you to have a read of them.

Marriott Hotels is leading the way at being inclusive and making all guests feel welcome. They are proud of their ethos, stating that “At Marriott, there is no room for inequality. We believe that every guest, whoever they are, wherever they go, should feel comfortable and welcome the moment they walk through our doors.” What’s more, their recent ‘#lovetravels’ campaign is promoting special deals for LGBT couples wanting to tie the knot at one of its hotels. 

The more you promote yourself as having a positive environment for LGBT guests to stay in, the more your LGBT friendly reputation will grow. And this goes a long way: a staggering 83% of gay men and lesbians choose their hotel based on its gay-friendly reputation. We recently wrote a blog article on how to improve your LGBT friendly reputation – have a look. 

(4) Customise your offerings to LGTB customers

If you truly want to target LGBT travellers, then understanding what they look for in a hotel is key. LGBT globetrotters often have a more disposable income than heterosexual couples, largely due to their DINK status (dual income, no kids.) As a result, many LGBT guests look for luxury offerings, especially when paired with a restaurant dinner or spa visit.

A great way to attract more gay guests is by customising deals that would interest them. According to recent statistics, 17% of gay men and 16% of lesbian women are married, meaning honeymoon trips are on the increase. What’s more, LGBT events, such as Pride, are key motivators to travel to a destination. Hoteliers that recognise the business opportunities behind these trends and offer LGBT honeymoon or Pride packages will see an increase in RevPar fairly quickly. Have a look at the main LGBT travel trends every hotelier should know about

Successfully target the LGBT market 

At World Rainbow Hotels, we bring together a global community of gay and lesbian welcoming hotels, helping hoteliers get unprecedented visibility in, and access to, the LGBT market.

Join the World Rainbow Hotels community to stay ahead of LGBT travel trends and welcome more LGBT guests at your hotel. Find out more about our services or register your hotel today