Can You Afford to Ignore This Market?

Today, I digress from the usual wedding and honeymoon to another niche market with tremendous buying power—LGBT leisure travelers (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender).

According to renowned Forrester Research, this market of more than 7 million customers generates over $41 billion per year through their personal and leisure travel. They also tend to be more engaged with online travel booking than straight travelers. Compared to the rest of the travel population, the incidence of rental cars and flights is much greater, but while selling to LGBT travelers you must understand that your success depends on providing the right travel content—in the right manner.

The Right Content, the Right Way

Getting your content right is the most important element. It is more important than social media, mobile or marketing. Why? Because next to content, everything else is window-dressing (see Forrester Research, Inc. 2010). Travel firms that lack relevant content have nothing distinct to sell to LGBT travelers. I would also like to add that this goes for the rest of the travelers as well. While developing your content, here’s what you need to keep in mind:

A. Sell both LGBT and general travel products. Forty-nine percent of LGBT leisure travelers make trips to visit family and friends, so provide easy access to and promote your mainstream message and content.
B. Make it clear why a destination or hotel is LGBT-friendly. 
C. LGBT leisure travelers have unique concerns. For example, is it acceptable for same-sex couples to hold hands in public? Are there LGBT-friendly neighborhoods, restaurants or clubs? 
D. Will hotel check-in be pleasant or awkward? These are not unimportant details as 31 percent of LGBT travelers avoid cities/destinations where they feel they are not welcome and 32 percent avoid hotels whose write-ups or visuals fail to make them feel welcome.
E. This is business—worth $41 billion—not politics.
F. There are some destinations and service providers that have benefited from an alliance with LGBT travel suppliers—Philadelphia, whose visitphilly.com site includes a link to LGBT content, Kimpton Hotel & Restaurants and Expedia to name a few.
G. Do make sure your LGBT content is upfront and visible, not hiding behind pages of other things— preferably starting out on the home page.

Demographics

Average Age— 42 years
Household Income— $77,325
Married/partnered— 49 percent
Vacation of four-seven days— 47 percent
Vacation of eight+ days— 26 percent

I am in the process of featuring all hotels and travel suppliers who focus on this market segment on www.MarryCaribbean.com. I would appreciate relevant information from the Caribbean hotels. Write to me at [email protected].

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