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News Article

LGBT travel market valued at US$211 billion a year

Marketers urged to avoid stereotypes when targeting LGBT market

The global value of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender travel market has continued to grow and is now worth over USD$211 billion in LGBT consumer spending per year, according to research released for the first time at WTM London yesterday (8 November). New international research undertaken in 2016 from the LGBT2030 program by specialist consulting firm Out Now, carried out in 18 different markets, shows how spending has grown over the last 3 years. The top global market, worth about US$61 billion annually, is the USA, followed by Brazil with $26.4 billion. The global value of LGBT travel has increased by an average of 2% per annum over the last 3 years, with only Argentina and Italy (for economic reasons) showing a lower spend.

Ian Johnson, Chief Executive Officer of Out Now, presented the findings at the LGBT Masterclass education workshop at World Travel Market, London. Other speakers at the workshop included Sophie Griffiths from TTG Media, and Auston Matta from Outfluential, a social media marketing company.

The value of the market was highlighted by a survey of LGBT travellers from the UK, of whom 29% take three or more overseas holidays a year, spending more on their trips than the general population. 27% of survey respondents said that they spent £2000 or more per person on their main holiday.

Among the points made at the workshop was the claim that no destination should be regarded as off-limits to LGBT travellers, despite the restrictive laws in some countries and states. This despite 76 countries outlawing homosexual acts, and the risk of the death penalty  in at least 10 of these. It was suggested that so long as LGBT travellers have access to the correct resources on safety, laws and customs, travel anywhere should be possible. The Caribbean was given as an example of a region where laws on homosexuality in some countries mean that they cannot promote themselves to this market, but the travellers would be welcome when they visit.

But when choosing a destination, one of the main factors is whether the traveller feels confident to be themselves on holiday. Staff in hotels and resorts, for example, should be trained to make everyone welcome. By being LGBT-friendly, destinations or businesses may also benefit from increased general business, by showing themselves to be inclusive. Rather than needing to segment tourism offerings to suit the LGBT market specifically, by making sure products are inclusive for all regardless of race or sexuality, businesses can prosper and understanding between communities be increased.

In a presentation that will be relevant to marketing across tourism sectors, not just LGBT travel, Auston Matta discussed the importance of social media. Travel bloggers, people with large numbers of followers on YouTube, and other social media influencers, can carry greater weight when we make travel decisions than any traditional advertising or marketing channel. His presentation said that 92% of customers trust word-of-mouth more than traditional advertising, and that 74% of consumers are influenced by social media when making purchasing decisions. It was claimed that using social media influencers can increase sales conversions 3- to 10-fold compared with other marketing channels. Whatever the target market, when using social media figures it is important to choose those who most closely represent that market, as consumers listen to people closest to their own demographic.

“The global LGBT market continues to be one of healthy growth and opportunities for a growing number of travel industry participants,” says Ian Johnson from Out Now. “However the LGBT consumer market continues to raise its expectations and there is much work to be done by the industry in the areas of communications improvements, strategy development, training and quality assurance for LGBT travellers. LGBT people expect the same level of welcome and respect as all people do when they travel. The new 2016 valuations of this market show that targeting LGBT customers is not only the right thing to do – it is also smart business.”

At WTM London last year, an agreement was concluded between Out Now and Travel Market Report to develop a new training program for travel agents, which was launched at this year’s WTM —  http://Learn.LGBT.

Subscribers to Leisure Tourism can find database records on LGBT travel, starting with the search lgbt OR ((gay OR lesbian) AND (travel OR tourism)).

Article details

  • Author(s)
  • David Simpson
  • Date
  • 09 November 2016
  • Subject(s)
  • Tourism