Among the many announcements made at the World Travel Market over the last week was the release of a ground breaking study by the GLBT marketing agency, Out Now.
The survey, the full results of which will be released in early 2011, is the largest travel and tourism research study of the GLBT market ever conducted. At first blush, the results are frankly astounding.
Based on consumer reported expenditure, Out Now values the global GLBT travel market potential for the tourism industry in 2011 at an estimated $142 billion per year. The United States is the largest market accounting for a total of $45.1 billion annual leisure travel spend and Australians were the highest per capita spending country, with GLBT Aussies each spending an annual average of $3850 on leisure travel.
The CEO of the research organization issued a challenge to the travel and tourism industry to get its act together and to begin proper marketing to the GLBT community. These facts and figures, in consideration of the full results next year, will once and for all demonstrate what we all suspected – that the GLBT community travels frequently and we spend a lot of money when we do.
Out Now went on to lament the fact that hotels and airlines do not do a good job of training their staffs to deal with the GLBT community and that simply saying a company is gay friendly holds very little value in today’s travel environment.
Sound familiar? These are the exact same points I made in my article No Respect for the Gay and Lesbian Traveler.
I am thrilled to see that I’m not alone in my analysis that most travel and tourism companies haven’t devoted a lot of thought or time in their GLBT marketing and even less time in making the GLBT travel experience a pleasant one. It’s great if a hotel hangs a rainbow flag on the door, but if I am treated rudely at check in, that effort is completely for naught.
At the risk of rewriting my original post, I am flabbergasted that the travel industry is not more professional in how it deals with the GLBT community. While incredibly diverse, we should not remain an enigma to professional public relations and advertising professionals. Rainbow flags and half-naked men do not an effective campaign make. What the community craves is directed, thoughtful advertising that assures us of an enjoyable and no-hassle travel experience.
And so, boosted by these dramatic and compelling numbers, I once again call on the travel industry to not only rethink the way in which they market to the GLBT community, but to make a concerted effort to train their staffs in how to treat us respect.
As I stated in my first article on this subject, my proverbial door is always open to offer advice to any travel entity interested in improving its GLBT outreach.