Why your hotel marketing strategy should include LGBTQIA travelers

As destinations reopen, industry experts expect to see the LGBTQIA community be among the first to hit the road. Here’s how to market to this key demographic.

As coronavirus creates an ever-shifting environment for travelers, one community is likely to stand in line first to travel: the LGBTQIA population. If you’re wondering why this market is eager to get away sooner, we’ve gathered up the latest COVID-19 travel trends to show you why and how you can attract LGBTQIA travelers. 

The key takeaway: Welcoming LGBTQIA travelers as part of your hotel COVID-19 marketing strategy could expedite your recovery.

LGBTQIA = Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual

New COVID-19 travel insights  and industry experts  agree that not only will LGBTQIA travelers likely be the first to hit the road, but they seem poised to travel more than non-LGBTQIA travelers following the COVID-19 economic downturn.

How much more? In mid-2020, over half of LGBTQIA adults expect to travel for a vacation sometime during the year versus 46% of non-LGBTQIA adults. As the chart below shows, respondents were more optimistic in their travel plans than their straight and cisgender counterparts in every category, including being more likely to stay in a hotel or vacation rental.

Why will the LGBTQIA community travel sooner?

From economic crises to terrorist attacks, history has proven that the LGBTQIA community will opt to travel. 

The LGBTQIA community’s willingness to vacation during higher-risk periods can be traced back to their travel experience. 

Darren Burn of Out Of Office and Travelgay.com states that traveling as a transgender person or checking into a hotel with a same-sex partner poses higher safety risks in many parts of the world. About 70 countries still criminalize homosexuality. Yet LGBTQIA travelers choose to visit these destinations knowing they could be denied service, jailed or assaulted. 

Not only do they seem ready to travel, but they also have the means to do so. Darren Burn also describes to Skift that “a higher proportion of that community is dual income, no kids, allowing more discretionary time and money to spend on travel.”

•  LGBTQIA travelers spent a record $218 billion on travel and tourism in 2018.

•  Americans take one to two vacations per year, LGBTQIA travelers take an average of 5.5 vacations per year.

How to welcome LGBTQIA guests

Nearly 70% of LGBTQIA travelers say they tend to stay at hotels they know are LGBTQIA-welcoming.

Creating an inclusive environment onsite—and marketing your property as welcoming to LGBTQIA travelers—could help you recover earlier and faster. It not only benefits your hotel COVID-19 marketing strategy, but it could also help you run more profitable, well-reviewed operations long term. 

While creating a positive experience for all may seem obvious, one in three members of the LGBTQIA community fears judgment from hotel staff when traveling. 

How can you help make LGBTQIA travelers feel welcomed? We’ve gathered tips for you to include in your recovery plan today as well as your ongoing marketing strategy for the future.

Seven tips to help LGBTQIA guests feel welcome 

  1. Take the Expedia Group Pledge of Inclusion by adopting the following tips and selecting the “LGBTQIA friendly” amenity inside Partner Central.
  2. Educate staff about sexual orientations and gender identities and enforce a zero-tolerance policy for hateful, disrespectful or discriminatory behavior. 
  3. Include photos showing diverse guests, such as same-sex couples and transgender travelers, enjoying your property.
  4. Train your staff to assist LGBTQIA travelers, such as informing staff of the importance of personal pronouns. If unsure of a guest’s gender, withhold using gender-specific terms, such as sir and madam or Mr. and Ms. Use a universal greeting such as “good evening” instead.
  5. Ensure your concierge and staff can recommend nearby gay-friendly neighborhoods, restaurants and activities. 
  6. Consider a separate website page or section devoted to the LGBTQIA community with events, guest reviews, photos, nearby attractions, special packages and rates.
  7. Display support of the LGBTQIA community. Being socially responsible and inclusive will help all your guests feel welcome and help foster a positive relationship with travelers.

Be prepared with community activities

The LGBTQIA population and allies have an incredibly strong sense of community. While travel may be curtailed now, prepare your reopening toolkit with community events for when restrictions relax. Pride Month events create huge swells in traffic as parade and party-goers flock to local and international destinations to celebrate annually. World Pride New York City 2019 alone saw a record attendance of five million people. 

It doesn’t stop with Pride Month. Gay sports leagues have become extremely popular and teams and fans often travel for tournaments. Professionals attend LGBTQIA business and industry conferences, while groups of friends may travel abroad to volunteer with queer-focused non-profits, and so much more.  

Outside the LGBTQIA community, Millennials and Generation Z are especially passionate about social justice and diversity. They seek out such differentiators in all aspects of their lives, from the employers they choose to the products they buy. While only some travelers identify as LGBTQIA, many more stay at an inclusive property to support a business that aligns with their beliefs.

Attract and welcome LGBTQIA travelers. Take the Expedia Group Pledge of Inclusion

Take the Expedia Group Pledge by adopting our seven tips to help LGBTQIA guests feel welcome today. By doing so, your property promises to make all guests, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, feel safe and respected. 

Properties that take the Pledge can select the “LGBTQIA friendly” amenity inside Partner Central  to display on relevant searches on sites. But more importantly, taking the Pledge will help make the LGBTQIA community feel welcome today and ensure they’ll return to your property again and again.

For more resources on hotel recovery strategy, read People will travel again. Will you be ready?

Expedia Group Partners can take the Pledge of Inclusion, then search and select the “LGBTQIA friendly” box inside Partner Central “Amenities".

Properties will be promoted in related searches across several sites, including Orbitz, our dedicated destination for LGBTQIA travelers.