Create Experiences For LGBTQ+ Travelers With Your Destination Marketing

Build experiences that welcome LGBTQ+ travelers with open arms.

April 20, 2023

The LGBTQ+ tourism market has $218 billion dollars in purchasing power. To drive visitation and capture their piece of the purchasing pie, your destination marketing must do more than just reach them with an ad campaign. You must speak to them and their families in an authentic, relatable way. Think about it this way: a recent survey from Forbes found that 66% of LGBTQ+ travelers don’t see their lifestyle represented in advertising, while 51% wished they saw ads that represented families like theirs. 

In today’s market, travelers are no longer willing to compromise their values. Destinations must prioritize diversity and inclusion to create a reputation of safety and acceptance to increase brand awareness and visitation. This level of passion goes way beyond a hollow tagline. Travelers will see through any attempts to woo them without substance.

Here’s how destination marketers can create authentic campaigns and experiences that build loyalty with LGBTQ+ travelers. 

Build a Reputation of Inclusivity and Support for LGBTQ+ Travelers

Make Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Your Mission

A great way to show the LGBTQ+ community that they’re safe is to create a mission statement and welcome note to the LGBTQ+ community to show solidarity and use pronouns whenever possible. The mission statement and welcome note should be present on all of your marketing platforms and appear alongside an equal opportunity statement policy on the website.

Hire a Diverse Workforce and Offer Training Programs

Adjust your hiring practices to represent the reality of the world around us—everyone is different and brings a unique perspective. In addition to hiring a diverse workforce, many destinations are committed to offering an inclusive and supportive environment. Currently, 67% say they’ve offered training programs to enable diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies, creating an opportunity for destinations to prioritize DEI training. 

Feature LGBTQ+ Travelers In Marketing Collateral

You can show support by visually representing LGBTQ+ travelers across brand, social, and marketing campaigns. By using inclusive imagery and video in marketing campaigns, you can highlight the diversity of your population and represent those traveling to it.

Highlight Diverse Travelers For Your Partnerships and Events

It’s important to represent and support the LGBTQ+ community in marketing campaigns while being transparent and authentic. The visitor experience must match the marketing, so promote inclusive attractions, hotels, restaurants, and pride events, and partner with LGBTQ+ content creators to share their own experiences and create genuine content for social channels.

The Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board has worked hard to create one of the most inclusive destinations for LGBTQ+ travelers. By offering places to socialize and creating a “Gayborhood” to celebrating the International Day Against Discrimination, the destination has welcomed the LGBTQ+ community with open arms. 

“We have the most successful Pride in the country, Vallarta Pride, and this year was the 10th celebration,” says Luis Villasenor, managing director of Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board. “Pride month is June, but here, when we started trying to get the Pride business, we didn't want to compete with top destinations in the States, so we aligned our Pride celebration to International Day Against Discrimination on May 17. Which is why we’ve been very successful. We welcome around 15,000 visitors in that week representing 20% of occupancy for the city, and $300,000 in lodging taxes over the week.” 

Go Beyond Rainbow Flags and Pride Events

Building relationships goes beyond Pride month. Travelers want to feel welcome every day of the year, but that isn’t always the experience they have. According to a 2021 study, 53% of LGBTQ+ travelers have had unwelcoming, uncomfortable, or awkward encounters at hotels. These metrics reveal service industry shortcomings in creating welcoming experiences for LGBTQ+ travelers.

“Diversity and inclusion go well beyond marketing. It’s a way of life and a belief system that requires destination marketers to think about the messaging they're putting out and what kind of destination they want to be,” says Richard Black, VP of Destinations at Sojern. “One of the best ways to be authentic is to have open-minded conversations and learn from travelers who are looking for inclusive destinations. Rather than making assumptions or boxing them in, speak directly to LGBTQ+ travelers to find out what they really want and embrace who they are. Travelers everywhere want the same thing—to feel included, safe, and able to explore without prejudice.”

The best way forward is to learn about the challenges travelers face, what they want, and offer advice to help them choose places that make them feel comfortable and will create the experience they want. Consider special packages, like partnering with hotels on branded swag bags, donations to local LGBTQ+ organizations, or even hosting events and encouraging residents to be welcoming to offer inclusivity at all hotels, restaurants, and attractions. Destinations International also offers a great assessment tool to help destinations create an inclusive experience for all travelers.  

Now more than ever, destinations must create authentic messaging and experiences that welcome LGBTQ+ travelers with open arms. Travel is the best weapon to break down ignorance and judgment barriers. You can be one of the destination marketers leading the charge to promote diversity and inclusion and make travel accessible to all people.

Here are more resources to learn about creating safe and diverse travel experiences.

Reach out to our Sojern travel experts today to learn how you can target and engage LGBTQ+ audiences in your marketing campaigns today.

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