How to Sell Gay and Lesbian Trips and Weddings in Hawaii

A lesbian wedding in Hawaii. // Photo by Purple Orchid Wedding/Tad Craig Photography.

The LGBT market has been gaining a lot of attention in Hawaii since the Aloha State legalized same-sex marriages in November of 2013. In a recent study, the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) called attention to several key traits of its gay and lesbian clients who traveled to the destination in 2014. Travel Agent breaks downs some of the highlights of that study to help you book a gay or lesbian vacation to Hawaii this summer and beyond. 

The following are preliminary statistics from the 2014 Visitor Satisfaction and Activity Survey (VSAT). Since this niche market is relatively small, reliable same-sex partner data were limited to U.S. travel parties only. Data on the average U.S. visitors are also from the 2014 VSAT.  

According to the HTA study, about 1.5 percent of all U.S. travel parties in 2014 included same sex partners. Nearly half (47.8 percent) of the U.S. same-sex partner visitors were middle aged, two times more than the average for U.S. Visitors (20.1 percent). Families comprised 7.9 percent of the visitors traveling with same sex partners compared to 21.8 percent of U.S. travelers, wedding/honeymoon accounted for 10.4 percent of the same-sex visitors compared to 4.6 percent of U.S. travelers. 

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Same-sex partners were more likely to be currently employed (83 percent) than average U.S Visitors (70.7 percent). Eight out of 10 same sex partners (80.3 percent) had college degrees (2-year or higher), compared to 77.2 percent for U.S. travelers.

Nearly 66 percent lived in households where the total income was over $100,000, with 24.9 percent of visitors’ household income over $200,000. About 61 percent of U.S. visitors had a household income of $100,000 or over.

A similar percentage of same sex partners have taken a long haul trip in the past three years (84 percent) compared to the average U.S. visitors to Hawaii (83.6 percent). In comparison to the average U.S. visitors, more visited Las Vegas (38.6 percent vs. 31.7 percent for U.S. visitors), more visited New York (28.9% vs. 19.5% for U.S. visitors), more visited Australia (9.2 percent vs. 4 percent for U.S. visitors), more visited Canada (19.2 percent vs. 15.7 percent for U.S. visitors), more visited Europe (38.2 percent vs. 24.6 percent for U.S. visitors) and more visited Mexico (24.8 percent vs. 17.3 percent for U.S. visitors).

Same sex partners in 2014 were more likely than the average U.S. visitor to go to a nightclub, museum/art gallery, Polynesian show/hula, aft/craft fair, festivals; go to the beach/sunbathing/swimming; eat at fast food, family restaurants/diners, ethnic restaurants, cafe/coffee houses; go to parks/gardens; and take a trolley or public bus. They were less likely to take a self-guided tour, go snorkeling/scuba diving, golfing or prepare their own meal.

Some of those who came to Hawaii owned a timeshare property (13.7 percent). According to the study, this was slightly lower than the average of 14.6 percent among U.S. visitors. More stayed in hotels (61.6 percent) during their visit to Hawaii compared to the average U.S. visitor (50.7 percent).

Purple Orchid Wedding's Hottest Gay/Lesbian Weddings Packages

Carolee Higashino, president and owner of the popular Hawaiian wedding agency, White Orchid Wedding (WOW!), told Travel Agent that her company’s new same-sex division, Purple Orchid Wedding (POW!), is beginning to blossom. In the last year, Higashino says same-sex marriage bookings have gone up 50 percent for Purple Orchid Wedding. 

Here are some of its most popular packages for same sex clients looking to tie the knot in the Aloha State.

The “Blue Hawaii” Package

Starting at $4,500, this package includes a marriage officiate; assistance with a marriage license; a white sandy beach wedding site; 48 photos on a CD; two fresh specialty floral leis; Hawaiian lei circle of flowers; a keepsake wedding certificate; a Hawaiian ukulele or guitar serenade; a three-hour limousine transfer; a sparkling toast; an edited wedding video; two hours of video coverage; a $200 dining gift certificate for a romantic table for two at one of Purple Orchid Wedding’s preferred oceanfront restaurants; a special paradise wedding surprise; an on-site event coordinator and the coordination fee. 

The “White Orchid Wedding” Package

This magical oceanfront garden located only sandy footsteps away from the sparkling blue Pacific is by far the most ideal choice for those seeking tranquility and old Hawaiian charm. Starting at $5,200, this package includes a private oceanfront White Orchid Beach House wedding site for three hours; an island juice and bottled water station; assistance in obtaining a marriage license; assistance with travel and accommodations; an elegant bamboo altar canopy with billowy sheer fabric draping; 15 bamboo folding chairs or white wedding garden chairs; rose petals sprinkled down the wedding aisle; a Hawaiian officiate; two specialty leis; a musician of choice; two hours of photography coverage with a high resolution CD of 48 selected images; two hours cinematography coverage including a fully edited video featuring scenes of Maui; a stacked two-tier wedding cake with fresh floral enhancement (serves up to 15 people); a sparkling cider toast celebration for all (serves up to 15); one butler at your service; a keepsake engraved toasting glasses; a Hawaiian keepsake wedding certificate; an on-site personal event planner; a White Orchid Wedding (WOW!) surprise and the coordination fee.

The “Sunset by the Sea” Package

This is the company’s most desired spot in the islands to be wed, as it boasts a secluded white sandy beach cove ensconced by rugged lava.

Starting at $7,500, this package includes the private oceanfront White Orchid Beach House for the evening; assistance in obtaining a marriage license; assistance with travel and accommodations; island juice and a bottled water station for up to 20 guests; one butler at your service; a Hawaiian officiate; an elegant bamboo altar canopy with billowy sheer fabric draping; 20 bamboo folding chairs or white wedding garden chairs; rose petal sprinkled down the wedding aisle; two specialty leis; a musician of choice to serenade you; two hours of photography coverage with a high resolution CD of 48 selected images; two hours cinematography coverage including a fully edited video featuring scenes of Maui; a Hawaiian keepsake wedding certificate; an on-site personal event planner; a special White Orchid Wedding (WOW!) surprise and the coordination fee.

Visit www.hawaiitourismauthority.org and www.purpleorchid.com. Be sure to follow Travel Agent's Joe Pike on Twitter @TravelPike.

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