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I must admit, I have mixed emotions about this issue’s cover story, “Rainbow Globe” (page 18). While LGBTQ travel is an important topic to cover, I look forward to the day when the subject will seem old-fashioned and no longer relevant — when all travel is “gay-friendly,” and that term itself will be unnecessary.
Unfortunately, despite recent progress, we’re not at that point quite yet, although this market is seeing major changes. According to the “Handbook on the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Travel Segment,” a study produced by the European Travel Commission (ETC) and available through the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association website, there are a range of trends that are reshaping this travel segment. For instance, when it comes to younger LGBTQ travelers, many are choosing to vacation with non-gay family members and friends, and they expect an experience that’s welcoming to everyone in the group. Also, like most clients, LGBTQ travelers are looking for greater personalization in their travel planning and are choosing more exotic, off-the-beaten-path destinations. And, as more gay couples start families, they are booking more family vacations, as well.
Being knowledgeable about these trends helps advisors demonstrate their understanding of the modern realities and attitudes surrounding LGBTQ travel. As the ETC report points out, LGBTQ consumers value “authenticity of the marketing message and images, and consistency between the marketing promise and in-destination experience.” In other words, advisors need to be knowledgeable about the subject so that they can be authentic in their approach and deliver on their promises. And it’s important for travel advisors to only work with suppliers and destinations that treat LGBTQ clients with respect.
Keeping up to date with LGBTQ travel trends is not only the professional thing for advisors to do; it’s good business. In a competitive environment where advisors are fighting over the best clients, ignoring the LGBTQ market would be a huge mistake.