It’s a big risk to ignore the LGBTQ traveler. Why? Because this community is ready to reward destinations and brands that pay attention.
I read recently a story about the small seaside town of Zipolite and the main thing was that its culture changes because it’s overrun with too many gay people. In a curious case of “What year are we?” », the point of the piece was to say that too many queers were destroying the bohemian spirit of this Mexican community.
“Like many locals, some feel that Zipolite’s identity as a laid-back town that welcomes everyone from Mexican families to Canadian retirees is eroding, turning into a gay party town,” the story reads. It’s a place where “the LGBTQ population has exploded: gay bars and hotels have mushroomed, rainbow flags are commonplace”.
So what does it mean to be an LGBTQ traveler? This is a question that can be answered in so many different ways depending on who you ask.
I will never say that the LGBTQ community travels better than anyone else. What I will argue is that we are more aware when we travel.
We need to be more aware than others because we want to feel safe when traveling. We want to feel welcome. We also want to be seen, not just during Pride months, but every day.
As a group, we pay attention to brands that pay attention to us and reward those that do.
We notice businesses that conveniently come out once a year during Pride because everyone else does, then disappear once the rainbow wash is over.
We appreciate the hotel chains, airlines, car rental companies, fashion brands, retailers and restaurants that casually incorporate gay couples into their regular marketing campaigns as if the inclusive visuals were always there.
We also seek out destinations that treat us with respect and make us feel better about ourselves and the world around us.
I’ve stayed in hotels in some of the most homophobic countries in the world, but I didn’t feel rejected when checking in with my husband. It matters and creates incredible brand equity that lasts. Hospitality should clearly be for everyone.
These are certainly strange times. I feel for the discriminated transgender community in states like Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Ohio by politicians who feel threatened.
I also wonder, where does it stop? One law against members of the LGBTQ community could easily and quickly become another. A company like the Walt Disney Company is being punished for saying something – no matter how clumsily it did – against anti-LGBTQ legislation.
But when does a Disney completely stop defending gays? When does a city like New Orleans put down its pomegranate-shaped cocktails and see me, my friends and loved ones as another, a threat to its city’s culture? How long before it becomes okay to hate again?
The LGBTQ community is hyper aware and paying close attention to all of this. And we’ll take our money elsewhere.
It is estimated that before the pandemic, the LGBTQ travel market was worth more than $218 billion worldwide. The LGBTQ community in the United States spends 10% of its purchasing power, or nearly $100 billion, on travel.
I can’t object to it. My bank account is completely okay.
Like frequent Zipolite visitor Roberto Jerr, we as LGBTQ travelers want “a place where we can be whoever we want. … All members of the community should visit a place where they can feel comfortable, where they can feel free.
That’s not a lot to ask, is it?
Tourist boards and offices that understand this will be greatly appreciated and well compensated in return. See us, woo us, welcome us. Your crop is safe with us.