Gay Marketing: Creating New Product for the Gay and Lesbian Travel Market
By Darrell Schuurman Co-Founder, Canadian Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce | October 28, 2008
By now, since reading my last article, you've already started to take the first step in the product development phase: providing diversity training to your staff. With this training, you have the basics you need to offer the gay and lesbian traveller an experience where they can feel comfortable and the service they receive meets their expectations. But how do you build on that? How do you enhance that to really make your property appeal to, and capture, the market?
Product development and packaging is where you get to be creative and have fun (well it is for me, anyway). Through the development of new products that are created specifically for the gay and lesbian market, you can provide them with the tailored experience that they are looking for. You might be thinking to yourself that you don't have any "gay" product to work with; that you have nothing that would be appealing for a gay and lesbian package. Where do you look?
The first place is to look internally at what you currently offer and leverage your existing infrastructure. A great example of this is the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas. By incorporating their spa, cuisine and theatre products into their gay and lesbian packages, and aggressively promoting these in their advertisements, they are able to successfully sell an attractive product while maintaining control over all components.
Wedding packages are another great example, and not to mention extremely timely right now for this market. Weddings are big business for hotels, and, for most properties, the infrastructure is already there to expand this to the gay and lesbian market. Several hotels, such as Kimpton Hotels, have realized this and offer tailored wedding and newlywed packages specifically for their gay and lesbian guests. Keep in mind, though, that just because you provide 'straight' wedding services doesn't mean that you can just start offering same-sex wedding services. You'll need to do your research and make sure the expectations are fully met.
Meetings and conferences are another opportunity for hotels to utilize their existing infrastructure to reach this market. There are numerous gay and lesbian related conferences that happen every year across North America, and these organizations are always looking for venues that are actively targeting the gay and lesbian market. Tailor your proposals specifically for the gay and lesbian market by showcasing your affiliations with the local gay community, other gay businesses that you work with, and product that would be of interest to the market.
The second place to look is outside your property. There are huge opportunities to partner with various local events and attractions to create packages that are appealing to the market. Not only does this allow you to align with other businesses that might have greater exposure within the market, but also allows you to co-op ads, allowing your marketing budget to go further.