June 29, 2020
We’ve seen that the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered global diversity efforts, rallying together as minority groups have been negatively targeted. In a time where people are hypersensitive when making decisions, especially around travel, it is the responsibility of brands to connect with consumers on a deeper level via their communications.
Some companies may revert to rainbow branding because they are not sure what the LGBT+ landscape looks like and don’t want to miss the mark. But they shouldn't worry. A brand that chooses even one touchpoint of the gay or trans experience can create a degree of specificity and understanding that lifts it above other brands.
Even prior to the pandemic, LGBT+ travelers faced many unique challenges with international travel, as many countries do not openly support the community. Until earlier this month, in the United States alone, there were 27 states with no explicit statewide laws protecting people from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing, and public accommodations.
It is important to keep in mind that the LGBT+ community is fractured when it comes to visibility and progress. A transgender woman of color, for example, sees more day-to-day challenges to her lifestyle and existence than a white gay man, who by contrast has likely been out and visible for years.
However, LGBT+ tourism has experienced a significant increase in recent years, and we can only foresee more growth.
At this time every year, LGBT+ travelers typically flock to Pride celebrations around the world to celebrate what pride means to them, but this year’s celebrations and parades have been cancelled and postponed, leaving millions without plans but with hope to one day be able to celebrate together again. While we can still expect major LGBT+ friendly destinations to welcome visitors in the coming months, this presents an opportunity to expand their visitor base, and that starts with embracing LGTB+ marketing in authentic ways.
Greater Fort Lauderdale has done an incredible job of bridging that gap in recent years, setting a standard for destinations around the globe. They pioneered the movement with same sex couples and transgender models in their mainstream communications and marketing materials several years ago, leading to an enhanced brand reputation and increased tourism. It is estimated that the LGBT+ community has $3.7 trillion in purchasing power and is the demographic likely to spend more money while traveling than others. And, given the fact that many of these LGBT+ travelers will not be embarking on their much-anticipated pride excursions this year, they will still be receptive to travel to destinations that make an effort to welcome them.
So how can travel brands and destination enhance their LGBT+ quotient today for better results tomorrow?
- Work with LGBT+ influencers and bloggers
- Use targeted social media ads
- Partner with LGBT+ social platforms to drive new forms of awareness
- Improve optics with updated marketing content and messaging
- Expand media outreach and consider partnering more with LGBT+ publications
- Become part of IGLTA
As we emerge from these troubling times, travel will continue to play a role in connecting people and cultures for greater experiences. Diversity and inclusiveness should not be left behind in this equation when travel resumes.