Why It's Important to Consider and Understand the LGBT Travel Market

By Darrell Schuurman Co-Founder, Canadian Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce | August 17, 2014

Competition is continually growing. But we're not only competing with the new hotel down the street; we're competing on a global scale with properties in destinations that are actively and aggressively trying to capture a larger share of the travel market.

Hotel operators need to constantly be looking at opportunities to drive new business and increase the number of room nights sold. Often these opportunities are focused geographically. For example, many local CVBs and DMOs are working with the hotel industry to invest resources and energies into the emerging markets, such as China and Brazil.

But new markets are not restricted to geography. We know that segmentation can happen by a variety of demographic and psycho-graphic methods. We need to look outside of the typical market segments to find new ways to grow business.

Why Consider the LGBT Market?

The LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) market is one segment that several hotel operators have begun to look at for a variety of reasons. Research has shown that the LGBT market has a host of qualities that make it an extremely appealing customer base:

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The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.