Last month, senior digital media planner/buyer Justin Morris and I attended CMI’s 17th annual LGBT Tourism & Hospitality conference at Vdara. For more information, visit LGBT Tourism Conference | Gay & Lesbian Tourism Conference, but I’ve included our top 10 takeaways below.
- Inclusivity is key.
Whether it’s choosing a vacation destination, hotel or even place to have a wedding, the LGBT audience wants to feel included. This could be anything from brochures to messaging to a microsite. If LGBT travelers feel safe and welcome in your city, hotel, venue, etc., it’s a major win.
- Word of mouth and search engine marketing (SEM) drive travel decisions.
Bernadette Smith, president of the Equality Institute, spoke during the conference about research conducted pertaining to LGBT wedding planning and mentioned that 38 percent of LGBT couples make decisions based on word-of-mouth recommendations. The other key factors were search results, how well staff are trained (for example, do NOT ask two males checking in if they actually need separate beds if only one bed was booked), and if same-sex couples were featured in the collateral (ties back to point #1).
- Bridge the generation gap.
One way to do so is to be a part of the conversation/story. For millennials, catchy hashtags or emojis will do the trick.
- Be authentic.
This one is simple: If the message feels forced − major fail.
- Have a conversation with your audience.
If you’re posting content on YouTube, for example, talk to your viewers as though they’re in the room with you, not at them.
- Have fun!
Avoid ads that are too serious. The LGBT audience just wants to have fun and feel excitement when planning a trip.
- Avoid the sappy stuff.
Romance-geared ads are a miss. Instead, focus efforts on new activities and experiences.
- Families come in all shapes and sizes.
One key takeaway – don’t forget the females. Many brands’ creative strategies focus on same-sex males only; let’s not forget the “L”, people!
- Men vs. Women − There is a difference.
When targeting gay men versus lesbians, the content matters. Research found that gay men are more interested in traveling to urban destinations, while lesbians prefer places like national parks. Gay men also party more while lesbians love culture (per the research). Keep this in mind, depending on where you’re advertising and who you’re trying to reach.
- The simpler the better.
One common mistake is assuming that the LGBT audience is made up of primarily luxury spenders. Actually, most spending is middle of the road. In fact, per research, only 3 percent reported that they were luxury spenders.