How to Make LGBT Travel Matter to Millennials

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What can destinations and businesses that are looking to attract the LGBT market learn from wider Millennial travel trends?

Last week’s IGLTA Convention in Cape Town brought together delegates from several continents and many different corners of the travel industry. Many of the speakers who weren’t lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender themselves, or hadn’t worked much with LGBT specific businesses remarked how innovative and forward-thinking they find this particular market segment to be.

I would largely agree with that. While it’s important not to generalise, it’s true that many, many LGBT travellers -especially those from mature outbound markets- are early adopters of technology, adventurous and keen to place travel as a priority in their life.

That is not to say, however, that destinations and travel brands seeking to cater to LGBT travellers don’t face their own challenges, or won’t in the future. Following my successful workshop at the IGLTA Convention in Los Angeles last year, IGLTA asked me to return and this time explore this question more deeply: If LGBT Millennials around the world 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?

The big questions:

  • Is the LGBT travel industry keeping up with the pace of change in Mountain pictureMillennial attitudes?
  • Will established LGBT destinations remain attractive to emerging market Millennials?
  • In the future, to what extent will sexuality really define vacation choice?
  • What travel criteria will LGBT travellers always have when selecting destinations and travel services?

Just as with the wider group of Millennial consumers, I believe that it is 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, niche (but often lucrative) market of travellers. In the presentation below I’ve set out some of these wider lessons to be learned in Millennial traveller behaviour and invite you to think about how they apply to your business.

JUMP TO THE PRESENTATION:

FC CPT Presentation

The big answers:

There’s no quick answer to helping such a broad, diverse industry to adapt to a generational shift in consumer attitudes. However, I’d like to outline here, three major courses of action which should help destinations of all kinds adapt to this profound change:

  • Make travel matter to Millennials. As I outlined in my recent posts ‘Millennial Marketing: going beyond the schmaltz’ and ‘Helping a generation under pressure’, it’s vital to put forward products and experiences that are well adapted to Millennials’ spending behaviour. Selective spending (mixing budget and luxury experiences) is increasingly common, and of course there are so many other constraints on the modern Millennial’s budget. So before you worry about making LGBT travel experiences matter to your Millennial audience, consider how they view what you’re offering in terms of their priorities in life.
  • Innovation – Just like everyone else, LGBT Millennials are becoming more adventurous and seeking authentic experiences that help to connect them with the real soul of the destination. How can you provide such experiences, ensuring that they are open, understanding and welcoming to all?Use the wider lessons in ‘what matter to Millennials’ (the rise in self-improvement, health awareness and the desire to acquire life skills is just one example) to craft your LGBT travel product into something useful and meaningful.
  • Personalisation – 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.However don’t forget the essentials: How’s your digital strategy in general? Are you really reaching your target consumers through the channels that they use? Where does your product sit on their path to purchase?

 

Looking for more resources? Check out the rest of my blog here on Genctraveller.com as well as my bibliography.

If you’d like tailored support on adapting your business to reach LGBT Millennials, or are looking for more insights and ideas you can reach me anytime via @genctraveller

What Matters to LGBT Millennials?

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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.