Published today by the European Travel Commission, the Handbook includes fresh consumer data, trends, forecasts, competition analysis and recommendations on how European destinations can engage with the dynamic LGBTQ market segment.
It’s summer in Europe, and Pride is in the streets. Historic buildings are adorned with rainbow flags and grand avenues are packed with party-goers. For LGBTQ residents in large, liberal capital cities this can seem like a fun routine. For those who live in less accepting corners of Europe, it’s a chance to be visible, show defiance and appeal for equal rights change from those in power. Either way, the spectacle of a European city celebrating Pride is a major attraction in itself to potential LGBTQ visitors in countries such as China, Russia and the United States; all important inbound markets for Europe as a destination.
‘Europe’ means different things to different people, but when the European Travel Commission (ETC) asked me to take on this project, their mission was clear: they wanted to understand how Europe as a destination was generally perceived by LGBTQ travellers in Europe’s major long-haul markets. They wanted to know how the LGBTQ market works, how it’s likely to evolve in the future and what the national tourism organisations (NTOs) in across Europe could do to improve their product and marketing for this segment.
“Engaging with the LGBTQ segment is, in essence, about creating a safe and welcoming environment for LGBTQ travellers and communicating it with understanding and respect.”
As the author responsible for bringing these insights together, I coordinated with the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA), which has an Organisational Partnership with the ETC and used its Foundation to source specialists who could be interviewed. We were also delighted to work with Hornet, a major gay social network that generously provided time and resources to distributing a consumer survey across the target markets: Brazil, China, Japan, Russia and the United States. To get deeper insights I interviewed 18 travel industry specialists and experienced travellers from the countries in question, and gathered competitive data and case studies from destinations around the globe.
What’s in the Handbook?
- Analysis of the LGBTQ market today, and major trends
- Expected future evolution of the market
- First-hand consumer insights from five major outbound markets
- Insights on cultural factors shaping demand in all five markets
- Competitor benchmarking and case studies
- Comprehensive recommendations to European destinations
Global trends that touch individual lives
Researching and educating on the LGBTQ market segment involves straddling two strange worlds. On one level we see the positivity: big celebrations, corporate advocacy and a story of progress. On another level we learn that the way LGBTQ people are treated by society at home, or when travelling has a deep impact. Experiencing homophobia or transphobia, -even ‘micro-agressions’ that accumulate over time- can have tragic consequences.
In June 2018, during the preparation of this Handbook we held an educational day for NTOs and tourism suppliers in Brussels. One of the speakers on that day was Paulien de Groot, a transgender woman from Belgium. She spoke of the casual transphobia that she suffered at the hands of businesses both at home in Belgium, and from waiters and hotel receptionists when travelling on holiday. Tragically, the following month, Paulien took her own life, shocking all of us who had known her -even briefly.
At the educational day, Paulien said something so simple and self-evident, that we felt that it should be included at the very start of the report:
“It makes business sense to make travellers feel safe and welcome, and to treat them with respect”
The full Handbook is out now as a free download. I really do help it helps travel industry professionals in Europe and beyond to help ensure a warm, genuine welcome to travellers, no matter what their sexual orientation or gender identity.
FIND OUT MORE:
As part of its ongoing advocacy programme, the European Travel Commission has sponsored this Handbook and has published it free of charge. Furthermore, the full series of case studies and interview transcripts is available as a supplement, upon request from ETC or IGLTA.
Contact me: genctraveller[at]gmail[dot]com