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

OUT NOW: ‘Stepping Out of the Crowd’ – Where the Next Generation of Asian Millennials is Heading

Stepping Out of the Crowd (PATA, 2016)
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Winning a place on the travel itinerary of time-poor but experience-hungry generation of travellers from Asia’s emerging outbound markets will require clever marketing and well thought-out experiences that help them to quickly connect with local people and their traditions. When it comes to exploring new destinations, quick access to new foods, cultural immersion and local youth culture make a strong draw for Asian Millennials to ‘step out of the crowd’ and go off the beaten track.

These are just a few of the conclusions from a comprehensive new report just released by the Pacific Asia Travel Association in partnership with Visa Worldwide and Toposophy.Stepping Out of the Crowd (PATA, 2016)

Encouraging visitors to leave crowded hotspots and go in search of more enriching experiences has never been more important for destinations looking to capitalise on the rising tide of visitors from Asia’s emerging outbound markets. However putting this into practice is not so simple, especially when first-time visitors might not even know what else is available in the local area.

Finding ways to deal with crowds and helping visitors to explore further by themselves is putting destination management organisations (DMOs) seriously to the test. It requires a high degree of coordination with a range of stakeholders, the ability to develop an attractive product in new destinations and put in place the infrastructure to help visitors to get there and stay for a while. Following this, DMOs have to use their creative flair to raise awareness of alternative options, and then give people compelling reasons to visit.

Stepping Out of the Crowd is the second in PATA’s series of youth travel reports, and follows The Rise of the Young Asian Traveller which I authored in 2014. This new report covers the whole range of complex questions related to Asian Millennial traveller trends and tourism dispersal in a 150-page report that draws on unique consumer research carried out among 13 Asian outbound markets, expert opinion, case studies from leading travel brands and data from PATA’s own forecasts on cross-border travel. It also gives practical recommendations on where to start when putting a dispersal strategy in place.

Main features of the report:

  • Unique consumer research from Millennials in 13 outbound markets across Asia on their attitudes towards trip planning, city visits and going ‘off the beaten track’.
  • Data from the PATA five-year forecast to show how international arrival arrivals will affect APAC destinations in the coming years
  • Data and opinion from 14 market-leading tourism organisations, travel brands and influencers (including VisitBritain, NBTC Holland Marketing, Eurail Group and Discover Los Angeles) on how to set out an effective dispersal strategy.
  • Recommendations to public and private sector organisations on how to create more effective and rewarding products that encourage dispersal for Asian Millennial travellers.

How to get the report:

Full report – PATA Store (free for PATA members, US$100 for non-members)

Executive Summary (free download)

The project research for it was generously sponsored by Visa Worldwide and since TOPOSOPHY was the project’s research partner, my talented colleagues supported me with their inputs too, for which I am extremely grateful.

The bigger picture

Working on this groundbreaking project has taught me how the best DMOs are already hard at work to encourage dispersal, and to spread visitor spending as widely as possible – even in developing countries which find it hard to meet the needs of local residents, let alone demanding visitors. Yet in the end, dispersal is everyone’s business, as I explain in my recent TOPOSOPHY blog post.

This project has also shown in a variety of ways how much harder the tourism sector globally needs to work on this question. As far as tourism arrivals from Asia to Europe go, we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg. Other regions of the world are emerging rapidly as key outbound markets, on top of all those travellers from advanced economies who travel several times per year with the same big attractions on their bucket lists.

I hope that this report will help tourism boards and travel brands of all kinds to kick-start their approach to making tourism dispersal work for all, before it’s too late.

 

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Becoming ‘Millennial-proof’ really means becoming ‘future-ready’

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Earlier this month Toposophy hosted a seminar at World Travel Market London which asked panelists from the tourism and marketing industries to name their ‘Six New Trends That Will Change the World’.

The panelists (Ian Cummings from Travel Massive, Sarah Betty Andrews from Business Betty and yours truly) submitted two trends each, and the audience was asked to vote at the end for the trend that convinced them the most. The winner took home a bottle of (cheap) champagne while the runners-up were each awarded with a can of beer (note: we hosted the session but didn’t choose the prizes!).

The remit was broad and the possibilities were endless, but I instantly knew which two trends, if taken seriously by the tourism industry do at least have the potential to change the way things are done, and hopefully win me that (cheap) champagne. I presented my two trends at the start:

  1. From now on, the tourism industry will have to become Millennial-proof (me)
  2. From now on, the tourism industry will have to recognise that not all Millennials are the same (me)
  3. Video is going to be the king of content, while Snapchat will become the key influencer brand for travel (Ian).
  4. Asia will become the biggest travel market in the world (Ian) – Editor: I think this is more ‘fact’ than ‘trend’
  5. Space isn’t the new frontier in travel – but finding creative ways to get there will become the new frontier (Sarah-Betty)
  6. Everything’s going to be live and online, all the time (Sarah-Betty)

Rather than read a ton of text about it, why not see for yourself how I argued my case?

Very often when people hear the word ‘Millennials’, their eyes glaze over and they start to wonder what’s really makes this generation so different from their parents. It’s a totally legitimate question to ask, and in a bid to separate the headlines from the really useful insights, I ask that question too. Essentially, it boils down to the fact that as digital natives, Millennials’ main screen is the mobile, they look first online whenever they need advice, news, gossip and reassurance or inspiration, and their expectations of what makes a rewarding experience have shifted slightly, dictated by the globalised, connected world that they grew up in.

I can say with some certainty that this can be said of all Millennials, regardless of where they grew up in the world, but my second major argument is that we should still be wary of treating Millennials as the same. Too often in the worlds of travel and marketing treat their audiences as ‘PLUs’, ie. ‘People Like Us’, assuming that they come from a similar socio-economic background, or that they all share a similar outlook on the world. With such enormous disparity in levels of economic development, education, freedom of speech and political climate around the world, how could that possibly be the case?

What was my advice for how to deal with this?

  • Know that young people are very diverse. Their needs and tastes can change rapidly as they grow.
  • Understand young peoples’ self-expression through consumption, especially in travel
  • Look at wider consumer patterns and consider where your brand sits.
  • Consider how Millennials from different outbound markets interact with you and each other.

If you’d like more inspiration then check out our free guide ‘How To Put Your Place On the Millennial Map (And Stay There)‘ or get in touch with us through @toposophy if you’d like to know more.

Oh, and if you’re wondering whose trend won the prize… I can confirm that the beer went down very nicely after a long day at WTM London!

15 Destination Marketing Trends to Watch in 2015

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Working with my colleagues at TOPOSOPHY – Europe’s hottest new destination marketing agency – I’ve put together this easy-to-digest report on what top travel trends we can look forward to this year. Whether you work in the tourism sector or not, I’m sure you’ll find something in there to inspire and educate…

Will the Apple Watch break new ground where other tech wearables have failed to do so? Will this be the year when we see Airbnb take the leap and merge with a major online travel agent? Will we ever reach ‘peak selfie’?

Download your free copy of the report and discover our top 15 travel trends for 2015…

Want to know more about TOPOSOPHY? Find out here.

 

 

 

 
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OUT NOW – The Rise of the Young Asian Traveller

The Rise of the Young Asian Traveller
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It’s onThe Rise of the Young Asian Travellere of the most exciting projects I have managed this year, and the result of contributions from leading tourism industry thought leaders in Asia and nearly three thousand young consumers across thirteen countries in the region. I’m proud to announce that ‘The Rise of the Young Asian Traveller’ is released today by the Pacific Asia Travel Association!

What’s the context?

The rapid emergence of Asian economies and the subsequent accompanying boom in travel has attracted the attention of the global travel and tourism community, as well as countless others. In recent years the sheer number of outbound travellers from Asian countries combined with their well-documented spending power has made an impact beyond Asia and the Pacific region, as destinations in all other regions race to understand the Asian traveller and adapt their products and services accordingly.

The Rise of the Young Asian Traveller, released today by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), explains how and why it is predominantly young people who are fuelling this growth, looking to explore the world beyond their country’s borders.

I am the author of this report, and for three months in early 2014 I was assisted by a talented team at PATA Headquarters in Bangkok. Research of this kind is extremely rare, with scant coverage of this region which is undergoing a tourism boom. It was great to learn first hand about the shape that youth travel growth is taking, through online surveys and focus groups.

In line with PATA’s ‘Next Gen’ strategy, the report is intended to help tourism industry professionals around the world to understand the importance of engaging with young people, both as consumers and employees in the travel and tourism industry, and to give them an understanding of the power of the young Asian traveller to shape global travel and tourism in the years to come.

What’s in the report?

The report gives detailed information on the background to the boom in Asian youth travel

The report describes in detail what is behind the boom in Asian youth travel and makes forecasts on future development

Nearly 3,000 travellers between the ages of 15-34 participated in an online survey distributed across 13 countries in Northeast and Southeast Asia including China, Korea (ROK), Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Crucially, in addition to this valuable data, I have gone the extra mile by explaining what’s driving the trends it describes with articles and invited commentary from industry experts. These include:

  • Why youth travel does not always mean ‘budget travel’ in Asia
  • What the leap to mobile technology will mean for travel providers across the region
  • How low-cost carriers have capitalised so successfully on the youth market across the region
  • Why the most sophisticated tourism boards look to attract students as well as leisure travellers
  • Who exerts the biggest influence on young Asians’ travel decisions
  • Why it is important to start reaching the next generation of your brand’s consumers today

PATA CEO Martin J. Craigs said, “This report highlights very effectively why Asia’s top destinations and tourism brands need to sit up and take notice of young consumers and their travel tastes. Today’s young travellers will very quickly become business and family travellers, so it is important to show them your trust and loyalty from a very early stage”.

PATA Members of certain categories are able to access the full report free of charge, while others will be able to purchase it for a fee. Take a look at the Executive Summary to find out more.

In future posts I will discuss the implications of the report and how its findings will prove useful to brands and destinations of all sizes in reaching the next generation of Asian travellers.