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Tapping Into The Growing Gay-Friendly Market.
By Luigi Serenelli - Weekly Exclusive - Views On The Latest Trends
Monday, 28th April 2014
 

Exclusive Feature: More and more hotels around the world are starting to cater to the LGBT community as acceptance begins to grow.

Having seen the trend, almost four years ago, four friends decided to start up the Gay European Tourism Association (GETA) to focus exclusively on the European gay travel market.

GETA’s executive director Carlos Kytka has witnessed the transformation of the gay-friendly travel sector both in the US and in Europe. He speaks to exclusively to 4Hoteliers.com about the difference between the North American and European markets and the challenges facing them.

How has the gay-friendly hotel sector developed in recent years?

In the US and Canada big companies almost have a duty to invest in diversity. If you are a big company and you are not seen to be catering for different market segments, particularly our market segment, it can generate a bad feeling. In Europe (alone) our market sector is (worth) 50 billion euros.

How can “gay–friendly” be marketed?  

Obviously, if you go back to the basics of hospitality, you need to extend a warm welcome to everyone. But having said that you need to create a differentiated product in order to attract this market segment.

If a hotel really wants to build gay-friendly credentials, then, for example, it has to distribute brochures that cater specifically for that market. Many businesses (make the mistake of) advertising to the gay community using the same photos that they use for the advertising targeting straight people.

What kind of people make up the gay market sector?

Twenty or thirty years ago the gay market was characterized as a very compact group. But now within the market segments of gay travelers there are many segments for example: people that travel a lot going to parties in Barcelona, New York, Berlin, Miami. This is a very specific group who are usually younger.

On the other hand, you have wealthier, relatively older people who look for culture, travel and have the money to stay in five stars hotels. They want to go to the opera or go shopping and to expensive restaurants. And then you have gay men and gay women on honeymoons and you have now also a lot of gay parents, now that adoption is allowed in many countries.

What is the typical private income of gay people who travel?

Gay couples are described as DINKS: double income no kids. Usually, they are two men or two women, both working. They don’t need to save money to send the kids to school or to university. So they have double income, they travel more often.

Of course gay people don’t necessarily have more money that straight people, but they do have more disposable income because they don’t have kids to spend money on. Gay people have shorter holidays because we don’t depend on school holidays to travel so we are the ideal market segment for the low season.

What are the top destinations for gay couples?

Because we tend to have short breaks very often it is usually a city break, four days in Berlin, for example, but we also take 10 days to go on a gay cruise to the Caribbean. There is really a wide range of gay travelers

What are the most visited cities in Europe?

Paris obviously  attracts a lot of people, London has a very strong gay scene, Barcelona, Berlin, Gran Canaria, Mykonos, Ibiza; these are the traditional gay holiday places. Those cities have recognized the importance of the gay traveler and they do invest a lot in attracting gay visitors.

Britain has just launched a huge campaign in the American market promoting London as a destination because gay people now can get married in the UK.

How does different legislation relating to gay people and gay couples in Europe affect the gay-friendly market?

It does affect it. I remember some years ago I was attending ITB Berlin and one hotel owner came to me to become a member of our association. He became member, and then the day after he said he had to renounce to the membership because he was from a homophobic area of eastern Europe.

Unfortunately in Europe it is still a problem, but is more a problem in the countryside. Not long ago Croatia approved a law forbidding gay marriages. Why are places so negative about a market that is so profitable? It is a huge market.

This is strictly an exclusive feature, reprints of this article in any shape or form without prior written approval from 4Hoteliers.com is not permitted.

Luigi Serenelli is a reporter based in Berlin, Germany. He has previously worked for local and national publications on society and politics in Naples and Rome, Italy and now works with journalists across the globe as part of the international journalism organization, Associated Reporters Abroad (ARA). Luigi has spent a large part of the last 10 years abroad and whenever possible he boards a train for long distance journeys.

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