Qualifying LGBT Clients Heading to Hawaii

Photo by Joe Pike

Young gay men are more likely to visit Oahu during their Hawaii vacation while most lesbian clients are perhaps more inclined to visit Kauai, according to Community Marketing & Insights (CMI).

These findings and more were recently released by both CMI and the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) as part of a comprehensive study on the LGBT market to Hawaii.

Commissioned by HTA’s Tourism Research Division and conducted by CMI, a San Francisco-based firm specializing in LGBT consumer research, the studies are the first done on behalf of the State of Hawaii to analyze LGBT travel to the Hawaiian Islands.


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Perhaps one of the first pieces of information an agent new to selling the LGBT market to Hawaii should know is that many destinations are not equally attractive to both gay men and lesbians. 

According to CMI, many urban destinations perform better with gay men, while many outdoor destinations are more attractive for lesbian travelers. In addition, gay and bisexual men tend to travel more than lesbian and bisexual women overall.

“We do see that individual island travel preferences differ by gender,” according to the study. “Millennial gay/bisexual men seek nightlife, which is why young gay men are typically attracted to urban destinations. Oahu may be a better option for this group.”

But while Oahu may be a great pitch for millennial gay clients, the study suggests agents should pitch more adventurous and nature-driven destinations to lesbian clients.

“Oahu performs better with gay and bisexual men (with a general attraction to more urban destinations),” according to the study, “while Kauai performs better with lesbian and bisexual women (with a general attraction to more nature destinations).”

In fact, we spoke to Thomas Roth, president of Community Marketing & Insights, as part of our coverage of last year’s Hawaii Tourism Conference and learned what is hot in the Aloha State specifically for gay and lesbian clients. 

According to Roth, Waikiki is the hottest spot in Hawaii for the gay traveler. 

"With its shopping and nightlife, Waikiki is always the epicenter for gay men," Roth told us back in September. "Now, that's just gay men. Lesbians prefer more adventure-driven islands."

For lesbians, adventure-focused islands like Maui, Kauai and Hawaii Island dominate the market in Hawaii, Roth told us. 

According to the study, older LGBT clients are more attracted to historical sites and cultural attractions, but these activities still score well among
younger travelers, according to the study.

By percentage, Baby Boomer lesbian and bisexual women are the top group that travels to and is interested in travel to Hawaii, followed by Generation X men, followed by Baby Boomer men.

Rates drop for Generation X women, most likely because of children, according to the study. Millennial travel rates among both gay men and lesbian women are near equal, "and lag behind older generations," according to the study.

“For LGBT travelers, there is a valid concern about safety,” according to the study. “No wonder then, that on a list of 13 destination attributes, safety ranked first among LGBTs, with 87 percent thinking it was important. That said, the research points to Hawaii not having any LGBT-specific safety concerns at this time.”

Visit www.gohawaii.com and keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for all your latest Hawaii travel news. Be sure to follow Travel Agent’s Joe Pike on Twitter @TravelPike and Instagram @pike5260.