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LGBT Travel: How to market to the right audience

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LGBT couple wearing tie-dye

The LGBT travel market is worth £6bn in the United Kingdom, and UNWTO research estimates that by 2030, there will be 180 million LGBT travellers worldwide. What’s more, GETA recently published figures that suggest that gay Europeans spend around €50billion on travel each year. Because many same-sex couples have DINK status (dual income, no kids), LGBT customers tend to have a more disposable income to spend on holidays. 

As a result, savvy hoteliers are adjusting their marketing campaigns, targeting the LGBT market in order to attract more lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender guests. However, despite common belief, adding a rainbow flag to your current marketing and carrying on as before (also known as ‘rainbow washing’) won’t do the trick anymore. Greater visibility of LGBTQ people has raised their profile as a consumer segment; a segment with particular interests, motivations and needs.

If you want to succeed at marketing to LGBT consumers, you need to consider gay and lesbian travel trends, know where to reach the LGBT community and ensure you diversify your advertising campaigns. Read on for our advice on how to best reach an international lesbian, gay and bisexual audience through your hotel’s marketing campaign. 

Stay up-to-date with LGBT travel trends

Before targeting an LGBT audience, it’s important to know both LGBT travel and demographic trends as these will help shape your marketing campaigns. Currently, 1.1 million people identify as LGBT in the UK, with an estimated 36% of LGBT adults being between the ages of 18 to 34. People in same-sex relationships are also increasingly more likely to get married and start a family: studies suggest that up to 3.7 million children have an LGBTQ parent. Marketing your hotel as a great place for an LGBT honeymoon or to take the kids to on a family-friendly vacation will, therefore, resonate well with a gay audience. 

Have a read of the main LGBT travel trends every hotelier should know to learn more. 

Know where to reach your audience

We often get asked what the best marketing channel to promote an LGBT friendly hotel is. The answer’s quite simple: the one your LGBT audience uses. Social media is a great way to reach the LGBT community because it significantly lowers your MCPB (marketing cost per booking), but don’t expect them to find your page and come to you. It needs to be the other way around.

Do your research, note where active gay social media users are posting, and then follow their lead. If you want to promote your hotel as a honeymoon destination, try using the hashtags #gay, #LGBTQ and #LoveisLove to stand out on Twitter. To promote yourself as a  family-friendly LGBT holiday destination, join in and post on related Facebook groups to grow your connections. Have a look at The Huffington Post’s top 11 LGBT Facebook groups to see if you can find your niche audience in one. Also, have a read of our recent article titled ‘How to promote your LGBT hotel on social media’ to learn more about LGBT social media strategies. 

Another great way to promote yourself as an LGBT welcoming accommodation is to join an LGBT consortia programme. This will allow travel agents and tour operators booking for their LGBT clients to easily find your hotel on the GDS (Global Distribution System) using the specific GDS codes GAY and GY1. If you want to find out more, read about the benefits of joining the World Rainbow Hotels consortia programme

Diversify your advertising campaigns

Most advertisers targeting LGBT consumers tend to use images featuring two white, gay males. LGBT travellers have as much diversity as their mainstream counterparts, so by using only one gender and ethnicity on your marketing, you could be alienating people. According to Travel Agent Central, LGBT travellers of colour are largely ignored by marketers, even though they represent significant buying power and are very brand loyal. Diversify your advertising campaigns by including different ages, ethnicities and genders. Lesbian travellers, for example, make up a significant portion of the LGBT travel market, so don’t forget to include them as well! 

Have a read of three ways to target LGBT travellers through your hotel brand identity to learn more about the type of images that work best for gay advertising campaigns. 

Offer LGBT travel packages

Pride and other LGBT events are key travel motivators among the gay community. A study done by Community Marketing found that more than 20% of respondents said they travelled to another city and spent a night or more to attend Pride events over the last 12 months. Offering Pride packages or discounts will therefore work wonders for your marketing campaigns. 

The same thing goes for honeymooners: The Guardian recently reported that gay honeymoon bookings have increased by 279% over the past five years. Offering a honeymoon package with a romantic dinner or spa getaway will go a long way with LGBTQ travellers. 

Market your hotel to LGBT travellers

At World Rainbow Hotels, we’re experts at marketing hotels to an ever-growing community of LGBT travellers. We bring together a global community of gay and lesbian welcoming hotels, providing accommodations like yours unprecedented visibility 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.