Although this is MLTU’s first year doing an educational seminar on LGBT travel, the market has been around for 30 years and has been trending heavily since. Recent changes in marriage equality and wider acceptance of LGBTs worldwide results in more opportunity for travel professional sales.
The LGBT community is a goldmine for the travel professional. Here’s why: Gay and lesbians usually have a large amount of disposable income. Five to 10 percent of the travel industry is made of up LGBT travelers. They represent a slice of the entire world, encompassing every race, culture interest and profession.
Important things to note: If you are new to selling to LGBT travelers, there are a few things you should keep in mind. LGBT travelers are incredibly diverse and cannot be lumped into one category. There are gay party boys, lesbian soccer moms, gay republicans, gay green party members, lesbian sports teams, queer students, gay business professionals and more. So with that said, the concerns of a young gay man are very different from an older lesbian woman. Agents must know that the LGBT market is constantly changing. It has recently moved from dual income with no kids, to more of a market of same-sex couples with children.
LGBT couples will make up a huge wedding market over the next five to 10 years because of the legalization of gay marriage. It is now legal for same sex couples to marry in 19 states, and same-sex marriage is recognized by the federal government.
The top LGBT wedding-friendly hotels and destinations include Hilton, Marriott, Best Western and Starwood. Hawaii is a huge destination for same-sex weddings. In fact, same-sex marriage in Hawaii is expected to boost tourism by $220 million over the next three years. Hotels with specific LGBT-wedding packages include Aqua, Westin, Ohana and Outrigger.
Mexico is also a huge destination for same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage is legal in Mexico City and Quintana Roo. Other states in Mexico recognize same sex marriage on a case-by-case basis, such as Cabo, Jalisco and Nayarit.
Within the United States, New York City is the number one destination for LGBT travelers. This is closely followed by San Francisco, Las Vegas, Miami & Fort Lauderdale, Seattle and New Orleans. Abroad, LGBT travelers flock to England, which is the top LGBT destination in Europe, Montreal and Puerto Vallarta.