Top 3 Trends Affecting LGBT Travel in 2016
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Same-sex marriage, increased visibility and greater acceptance have put LGBT travelers in the spotlight like never before. But to have success with this niche, you need a strategy. Ian Johnson, CEO of a marketing and consulting firm called Out Now, spoke about the potential for this market at The REAL Travel Experience and Love Mexico, a joint travel industry conference that took place in December at the Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort on Mexico’s Caribbean coast.
Johnson identified three major trends that he said affect how LGBT travel will be marketed, sold and experienced in the new year:
• Marriages and honeymoons: “This is a major new market, which is set to grow very strongly in 2016 and beyond, as more markets globally recognize the rights of LGBT people to full equality under their laws,” Johnson predicts. “The U.S. Supreme Court decision of 2015 allowing marriages to be legally recognized across the U.S. has only just begun to [have an] impact, which we expect will continue to expand over the next few years. Suppliers who better position to meet this market demand can expect to find a most interested consumer group.”
• The growth of small business targeting LGBT customers: “The global LGBT market will be increasingly driven by SMEs (small to medium-sized enterprises),” according to Johnson. “Until now, it has often been predominantly CVBs, airlines, large hotel chains and some large cruise brands that have dominated activities in the sector.” He reports an increase in the number of small to medium-sized travel agencies, tour operators and other suppliers in his company’s business-to-business networking system, Out Now Business Class.
• Training and certification: “There has been a plethora of certification and approval schemes, which bring little benefit to consumers other than that a particular supplier — hotel, travel agent, etc. — has filled in a form saying they are LGBT-friendly and [have] sent a check to some association or company promoting the particular scheme,” Johnson said, adding that he believes his company’s offerings are a remedy to that.
“Out Now has spent years developing an LGBT ecosystem which is centered on the travel needs of LGBT people,” he added. “Training of staff is key to this. LGBT customers do not want to be treated differently, but they want to be able to enjoy what everyone else takes for granted: to be able to relax and be themselves on vacation. Out Now Business Class delivers online training and management workshops via the dedicated Learn.LGBT platform, allowing staff to better understand how LGBT customers are the same as, and how they are different from, all other travel clients. We certify hotels globally, focusing on training, and to date more than 1,500 are included around the world, which we promote to consumers via the Welcome.LGBT platform.”
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