Business or Pleasure? Gay Business Travel and Why It Matters.

For years, marketing to the gay community has been priority for forwarding-thinking hospitality brands. Since the legalization of same-sex marriage in much of Europe and the US, and the resulting surge in same-sex wedding and honeymoon travel, an LGBT marketing strategy is a necessity for travel and hospitality brands. Yet the net impact of marketing LGBT marketing on stimulating gay business travel is rarely quantified, and perhaps for this reason, overlooked as a tangible benefit to LGBT marketing strategies on the whole.

Arguably, gay business travel is a niche market to which hotels and destinations should cater. While on the surface it seems difficult to differentiate between gay business travel and overall business travel, attracting GLBT business travelers will become more competitive. Gays and Lesbians maintain a strong presence in fields such as technology, as well as outsized representation in the so-called “creative class;” for this, their travel spending is outsized relative to the population.

Says Justin Nelson, National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Co-Founder and President, said, “LGBT entrepreneurs are helping build a truly global economy through their hard work and creativity. His organization recently published the first-ever LGBT GUIDE TO BUSINESS TRAVEL, in association with ManAboutWorld, Marriott International, and IBM.

Particularly, GLBT business travelers are more likely to add a couple leisure vacation days to their business trip and show extreme brand loyalty when it comes to places that identify themselves as “gay friendly”. One study found 90% of respondents said that LGBT-specific information made them feel that the tourism bureau is more welcoming towards them, and 86% believed that tourism websites should offer LGBT-oriented microsites and imagery.

No more is the value of gay business travel seen than in the growing movement to boycott travel to North Carolina in response to its passage, and recent legislative defense, of a law requiring the use of bathrooms aligned with the user’s birth gender. The backlash has spread well beyond just the gay community. Chicago’s Mayor has banner all city travel to the state, the SF Symphony – whose conductor Michael Tilson Thomas married his partner in 2014 – along with countless sports teams and musicians. These musicians cancelling tour stops in North Carolina have been met with backlash from the far right and gay communities alike: for instance, Bryan Adams, who cancelled a North Carolina concert stop was met with backlash when sites noted that tour schedule included performances in Egypt, which jails homosexuals, as well as Qatar and Dubai with dubious policies toward the gay community.

Nonetheless, studies indicate the economic impact of these boycotts exceeds $400MM. Arguably the impact of gay business travel on one property or individual travel brand is far less, but the net positive impact of a LGBT marketing effort on gay business travel is self-evident.

Criterion Global guides media planning and buying for international hospitality and travel brands catering to all audiences. We’ve worked with brands to build marketshare in LGBT leisure, gay business travel, as well as capturing GLBT group business such as annual conferences attracting global audiences. Contact us to learn more about boosting this side of your travel marketing.


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