What Matters to LGBT Millennials?

LGBT MillennialsThe issue of sexuality is increasingly becoming a non-issue for Millennials around the world, so what does that mean for the future of the LGBT travel industry? How can businesses in this multi-million dollar industry keep their products and marketing approach fresh and relevant for LGBT Millennial travellers?

Discussions surrounding the next generation of travellers were at the heart of last week’s Annual Global Convention of the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association in Los Angeles. I was invited to run an hour-long session tackling exactly the questions that the LGBT travel industry is asking now:

  • What do Millennial traveller trends mean for the future of destination marketing?
  • Are Millennials disrupting the LGBT travel space in the same way as other areas of the travel and tourism industry?
  • How can you keep your brand fresh and stay relevant to a new generation of LGBT traveller?

A non-issue?

According to a study released just last month, 7% of Millennials are happy to identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. This figure has risen from 3.5% that appeared in a comparable study in 2011. Furthermore, a full 73% of US Millennials feel that LGBT people should be protected from discrimination in the jobs market or from access to social housing. Furthermore, a 2013 study conducted by Pew Global revealed that Millennials around the globe (even in more  conservative countries such as South Korea or Mexico) agree that ‘homosexuality should be accepted by society’.

If LGBT Millennials are increasingly happy to identify themselves with their peers who in-turn see their sexuality as more of a non-issue today, what does that mean for travel companies and destinations who develop and market gay-relevant vacations? In a nutshell, innovation and personalization is the key.

This might involve innovation in marketing practices (such as tapping into the work of professional gay bloggers and vloggers), as well as innovation in product development such as finding innovative fun ways for LGBT travellers to meet each other through specialised tours and activities (not just sitting on the beach or hanging around at bars).

Widening the focus to Millennials in general

In a session packed with 120+ attendees, I explained how it’s essential for the LGBT travel industry to take lessons learned from youth consumer psychology and the way Millennials travel in general, if they want to tap into the interests of this diverse, but niche market of travellers (see presentation below). Fortunately, all types of gay culture are becoming more mainstream (and vice versa) and the increasing visibility of ‘tribes’ within the LGBT community certainly provides powerful opportunities for the personalization of travel products and marketing that Millennials crave.

It was great to be back among the members of IGLTA to share my insights on the Millennial travellers market. It was also great to build upon my own portfolio of work on this market, which started when I authored the UNWTO Global Report on LGBT Tourism in 2012 (download it free from my bibliography page).

Check out my presentation below and let me know what you think. IGLTA has set the ball rolling by addressing new media, emerging markets and Millennials at its annual Convention, and I look forward to following up with more on this in the months ahead.

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