The LGBTQ+ travel market is worth £6bn in the United Kingdom, and UNWTO research estimates that by 2030, there will be 180 million LGBTQ+ 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), LGBTQ+ customers tend to have a more disposable income to spend on holidays.
As a result, savvy hoteliers are adjusting their marketing campaigns, targeting the LGBTQ+ 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 LGBTQ+ consumers, you need to consider gay and lesbian travel trends, know where to reach the LGBTQ+ 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 LGBTQ+ travel trends
Before targeting an LGBTQ+ audience, it’s important to know both LGBTQ+ travel and demographic trends as these will help shape your marketing campaigns. Currently, 1.1 million people identify as LGBTQ+ in the UK, with an estimated 36% of LGBTQ+ 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 LGBTQ+ 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 LGBTQ+ 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 LGBTQ+ friendly hotel is. The answer’s quite simple: the one your LGBTQ+ audience uses. Social media is a great way to reach the LGBTQ+ 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 LGBTQ+ holiday destination, join in and post on related Facebook groups to grow your connections. Have a look at The Huffington Post’s top 11 LGBTQ+ 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 LGBTQ+ hotel on social media’ to learn more about LGBTQ+ social media strategies.
Another great way to promote yourself as an LGBTQ+ welcoming accommodation is to join an LGBT consortia programme. This will allow travel agents and tour operators booking for their LGBTQ+ 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 LGBTQ+ consumers tend to use images featuring two white, gay males. LGBTQ+ 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, LGBTQ+ 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 LGBTQ+ travel market, so don’t forget to include them as well!
Have a read of three ways to target LGBTQ+ travellers through your hotel brand identity to learn more about the type of images that work best for gay advertising campaigns.
Offer LGBTQ+ travel packages
Pride and other LGBTQ+ 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 LGBTQ+ travellers
At World Rainbow Hotels, we’re experts at marketing hotels to an ever-growing community of LGBTQ+ travellers. We bring together a global community of gay and lesbian welcoming hotels, providing accommodations like yours unprecedented visibility and access to the LGBTQ+ market.