Gay and Lesbian Tourism – Recent Trends

It has been well documented that gay men and lesbians travel more, spend more and have larger amounts of disposable income compared with their straight counterparts.

The CMI has carried out market research on American gay and lesbian travelling trends over the past 15 years, which has assisted the tourism industry make important marketing decision.

Below is a summary of the CMI’s “Gay and Lesbian Tourism Report” (CMI, 2009), based on surveying over 7,000 people.

1) Gay Men and Lesbian Booking Patters

79% of respondent reported making at least one return air flight for either business or travel within the past 12 months.

Gay people mainly book their trip directly via the airline and hotel websites, rather than using travel agents.

2) A reduction in LGBT Travel

There was a reduction in LGBT travel over the past 12 months, a direct result of the recession.  Business travel and cruise travel saw the biggest loss. Notwithstanding this, more LGBT travellers took cruise than their mainstream counterpart, as in previous years.

3) Small and Medium markets were effected more than Big Markets

Virtually every State in the USA (except Washington) saw a decline in travel over the past 12 months.  The bigger cities such as New York and San Francisco recorded smaller losses than the medium and small size cities.  Some cities saw a 20% decrease in tourism.

4) Increase in local tourism.

The only travel category to show an increase during the recession is the ‘Staycation’ sector.  The term ‘Staycation’ refers to people taking day trips or booking into hotels within their own local area.

5) How to Reach the LGBT Community

The most effective way to reach this niche market is by word of mouth; 72% reported being influenced by friends.  Other influences are travel reviews and blogs on travel websites.   Travel articles in LGBT and mainstream publications are also extremely effective at reaching this target group.

6) Interest in Health and Fitness while Travelling has declined

The trend over the past few years has seen a decline in the importance of access to working out facilities whilst people are away on holiday.  More important is time spent relaxing, sight seeing, exploring cultural attractions and doing other things of interest.

7) Pride events

Attending a Pride events remains a major influence for gay men and lesbians to visit another city and book into a hotel or guesthouse.  This specific reason for travelling does not appear to have been effected by the recession.

8)Strength of Local Neighbourhood

Whilst away on holiday gays and lesbians reported enjoying spending time in gay communities and eating out in gay or local (non-chain) restaurant.  The top 5 primary activities are

  1. Visiting gay area
  2. Visiting gay (local) restaurants
  3. Sightseeing attractions
  4. Go to museums
  5. Gay nightlife

9) Top 5 Hotels

Of the 3800 questions the top hotels indicated are:

  1. W Hotels
  2. Kimpton Hotel
  3. Hilton
  4. Hyatt
  5. Marriott

10) Top Destination

Of the 4726 respondents, which answered questions in relation to top destinations, the top 5 American destinations were:

  1. New York
  2. San Francisco
  3. Las Vegas
  4. Chicargo
  5. Los Angeles

The top five European destinations are:

  1. England
  2. France
  3. Germany
  4. Italy
  5. Spain