Last updated: 10:16 AM ET, Mon July 06 2015

What LGBT Travelers Want Out of Hotels

Hotel & Resort | International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association | Ryan Rudnansky | April 15, 2015

What LGBT Travelers Want Out of Hotels

PHOTO: Marriott International sparkled in a recent survey of LGBT travelers (courtesy Marriott International).

Hoteliers know that understanding every guest is pivotal to building trust among travelers, and, thus, pivotal to growing business.

LGBT travelers are currently taking the travel industry by storm, and that was evident at the 2015 IGLTA Annual Global Convention.

Celebrating its 32nd year, the IGLTA Annual Global Convention included major sponsors and partners from the hospitality industry, including sponsor Montage Beverly Hills and partners Hyatt, Hilton, Melia Hotels, Belmond and MGM Resorts.

Community Marketing Inc. recently conducted a survey of more than 3,500 self-identified members of the LGBT community. Thomas Roth and David Paisley from Community Marketing shared the results of the 19th LGBT Tourism & Hospitality report at the conference, identifying trends in the United States hospitality industry, among other things.

First thing’s first: Which hotels are winning LGBT travelers over?

Well, according to the survey, Marriott and Hilton have been champions to the LGBT community. When participants were asked which chains or brands have done the best job at reaching out to the LGBT community over the past 12 months, Marriott and Hilton ruled, each collecting votes from 35 percent of respondents. The boutique hotel company Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants—recently acquired by InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG)—came in third (16 percent), while Hyatt and the W Hotels brand (courtesy of Starwood Hotels & Resorts) rounded out the top five (14 percent and 12 percent, respectively).

In fact, Marriott was one of the first major corporations to include a transgender model in a major marketing campaign (the #LoveTravels social media campaign). Now many more companies are following suit, featuring LGBT models in campaigns. Roth called Marriott the No. 1 hospitality company among LGBT travelers at the conference (Side note: This benefits destinations too. Sixty-nine percent of American LGBT travelers were more likely to visit a destination because it does LGBT outreach, according to the report).

What types of hotels do LGBT travelers value?

In terms of price, most Baby Boomers and Gen Xers prefer mid-ranged hotels (55 percent and 52 percent, respectively), while millennials prefer budget hotels (54 percent), according to the Community Marketing survey.

In terms of size, LGBT travelers across all three generations prefer large brand hotels and resorts, followed by medium-sized brand hotels (they are also extremely loyal to brands in general).

However, interestingly enough, many in the LGBT community have also become strong supporters of owner-sold accommodations such as Airbnb and VRBO. About one-quarter of Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and millennials use these types of accommodations (including 30 percent of millennials).

It’s also worth noting that, while LGBT outreach is generally advised, lesbians and bisexual women didn’t seem to mind what mainstream inns, bed and breakfast properties and guesthouses did. Interestingly enough, nearly three-fifths (58 percent) of lesbians and bisexual women stayed at these types of accommodations without them reaching out to the LGBT community.

Of course, no report would be complete these days without factoring in mobile devices. When it came to booking a room with a mobile device, online travel agencies (OTAs) ruled for millennials (65 percent of millennial respondents said they booked via an OTA mobile site or app within the past year). Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, on the other hand, preferred to book with a mobile device via the hotel’s own mobile site or app (68 percent and 60 percent of each generation, respectively).

But before traditional travel agents get up in arms about millennials preferring OTAs when booking on the go, it is worth noting that millennials also booked via traditional travel agents more than Baby Boomers and Gen Xers when booking via a mobile device (3 percent, compared to 2 percent and 1 percent, respectively).



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