World Rainbow Hotels shares its top tips to develop a marketing strategy to attract the LGBTQ+ traveller.
The LGBTQ+ travel market is predicted to include 180 million travellers by 2030 and is currently worth £6bn in the United Kingdom alone. And as more and more countries are legalising the marriage of same-sex couples worldwide, these figures are only set to increase in the coming years.
It is a great market for hoteliers to break in to. Due to their DINK status (dual income, no kids), lesbian and gay guests tend to have more disposable income to spend on holidays. In fact, recent figures suggest that gay Europeans spend close to €50bn on travel each year.
It takes a lot more than simply ‘rainbow washing’ (adding a rainbow flag to your marketing campaigns). You need to be able to fully understand your audience, incorporate them into the story you tell, and reflect that story in both your hotel website and hotel operations.
How to incorporate LGBT guests in your hotel marketing strategy
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE TO TELL YOUR STORY
There seems to be a common misconception about the LGBTQ+ travel market: because it’s often used as an ‘umbrella term’, people tend to think that it makes up one united community, all with the same needs and goals. This couldn’t be further from the truth, as the LGBTQ+ market is just as segmented as any other market. LGBTQ+ travellers could be either in or out of the closet. They could be travelling solo, in couples or with children.Their travel experience could be shaped by their culture, gender, age and religion, as well as the laws on homosexuality back in their home country.
What’s more, the L, B and T are just as important as the gay male market so don’t forget them! Honeymoons among lesbians, for example, are on the rise, so be sure to include everyone in your strategy.
As you can see, LGBTQ+ marketing requires you to fully understand your audience first.
The next step is to then incorporate them into your brand story by aligning your values with those of the LGBTQ+ community. LGBTQ+ consumers prefer gay-friendly hotels, so start out by building up an LGBTQ+ friendly reputation. And there’s no better place to start than with how you treat your own LGBTQ+ employees.
Embrace diversity in your policies, broadcast your support of LGBTQ+ causes and train all staff how to treat one another in a respective and kind manner (more on that later). Including gay staff in your marketing strategy is crucial as well, because you’ll have a higher chance of seeing marketing success. By bringing people together and making teams as diverse as possible, you’ll end up with much more creative ideas.
Furthermore, make sure you stay on top of gay travel trends and the latest happenings in the LGBTQ+ community.
Joining the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) and an LGBT consortia programme is an excellent place to start.
IT’S ALL ABOUT RELATIONSHIP MARKETING
As any hotelier will be able to tell you, retaining existing customers is much more cost-effective than finding completely new ones.Once you have your hotel’s brand story, utilise relationship marketing to keep current guests happy and coming back for more.
Nurture your current LGBTQ+ customers through thoughtful email marketing (if you have their permission of course), and offer them a personalised ‘extra’ for their next return. For example, if it’s an LGBTQ+ couple, invite them to a romantic meal or offer spa vouchers for two.
LGBTQ+ travellers tend to seek travel experiences that understand their history, culture and community. So, another great way to build up a relationship with the community is to include regular blog articles in your digital marketing strategy on content that could interest an LGBTQ+ traveller.
Not only will you show potential guests that your interests align with theirs, but it’s also a great way for search engines to pick up your hotel website when your target audience searches for their next hotel.
In addition to your blog, make sure that imagery on your website and social media represent LGBT travellers as well as other guests.
This doesn’t mean you necessarily need to plaster your homepage with photos of gay couples though. A photo of a single man can work just as well, for example.
Some hotels may want to create a separate page on their website to specifically target this niche
TRAIN YOUR STAFF AND AVOID MAKING ASSUMPTIONS
It’s one thing to show your LGBTQ+ friendliness online, but it’s another thing to prove it during a guest’s stay.
A whopping 83% of gay men and women choose their hotel based on its gay-friendly reputation, so positive on-site experiences go a long way. Train all customer-facing staff to avoid any misunderstandings or any situations that could be perceived as discriminatory. Hotelier Academy has some great case studies of situations that could occur, so we encourage you to have a read through them.
Remember that people travel with all kinds of companions, so unless you know who the second guest is, we advise hotels to not make assumptions and just address all communications to the primary guest.
Furthermore, it’s a well-known fact that there is safety in numbers. It’s thus not uncommon for a group of LGBTQ+ guests to travel together. But regardless of whether they travel alone or in groups, creating a safe space for all your guests should be your top priority. When you’re on holiday, the last thing you want to worry about is how you’ll be perceived, so making everyone feel as comfortable as possible is key.
HOW TO STAND OUT AS AN LGBTQ+ FRIENDLY HOTEL
IN THE COMPETITIVE TRAVEL INDUSTRY
The hospitality industry is competitive, and as more hotels get added year on year, having a good differentiation strategy to set yourself apart is crucial. And what better way to stand out than by targeting a niche LGBTQ+ audience?
At World Rainbow Hotels, we’re experts at marketing hotels to an ever-growing community of LGBT travellers. They bring together a global community of gay and lesbian welcoming hotels, providing accommodations like yours unprecedented visibility and access to the LGBTQ+ market.Join the World Rainbow Hotels community to stay ahead of LGBTQ+ travel trends and welcome more LGBTQ+ guests at your hotel.
This article first appeared here.