Embracing LGBTQIA+ Inclusion in Travel

Preview our upcoming research on inclusive travel and learn how to adapt your business strategies to better reach and serve LGBTQIA+ travelers.
Jul 10, 2024 10:30 AM ET
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Living in a world with a variety of cultures gives us the opportunity to experience different people, and perspectives. Travel serves as a gateway to the world, allowing us to connect with others, share our experiences, and broaden our horizons. The benefits of travel, however, are not equally accessible to all. The barriers to travel remain high for many, including those from underrepresented groups, but we know these audiences are traveling despite facing potential harm or judgment from others.

Our upcoming custom research explores the unique challenges and experiences of underserved travelers, providing insights to help your business further embrace and implement inclusive travel practices. Read on for a snapshot of the needs, preferences, and challenges facing LGBTQIA+ travelers and actionable takeaways you can apply today.

Inclusion is good for business

Embracing inclusion isn’t just a best practice; it’s an essential piece to any modern business strategy. Underserved travelers make up a larger share of the global travel market each year. Looking at the United States, compared to 2022 population figures, by 2040, the LGBTQIA+ community is expected to grow from 11.3% to 17.8%.*

As these underserved communities and their buying power grow, there’s a greater need to address inclusive tourism and create more welcoming travel experiences. For example, 70% of LGBTQIA+ travelers — as compared to less than half (48%) of the general population — are more likely to book again with companies that demonstrate a commitment to diversity and inclusion.** Embracing inclusion is both necessary and foundational to travel, it is also vital for delivering better experiences and driving loyalty.

Incorporate diversity and inclusion at every touchpoint

Every traveler touchpoint with your brand — from your inventory and marketing campaigns to community partnerships —should reflect your commitment to diversity and inclusion, consistently and authentically. For hotels and hosts that are LGBTQIA+-friendly, that means updating your listings so it’s clear that your property welcomes all travelers.

With TravelAds Sponsored Listings, you can use custom advertising copy and imagery to promote your property as an LGBTQIA+-friendly hotel ahead of important events such as Pride Month and make note of your proximity to popular attractions or Pride festivities in the area.

Traveler identity impacts travel choices

LGBTQIA+ travelers’ identity strongly influences how they plan and book travel and nearly half feel that their identity limits their travel options. Above all else, they value their safety and finding a welcome destination.

50% of LGBTQIA+ travelers say their identity influences their destination choices

47% of LGBTQIA+ travelers say their identity influences their accommodation choices

47% of LGBTQIA+ travelers say their identity influences their choice of activities and experiences

Offer comprehensive information to reassure travelers

With LGBTQIA+ travelers making careful travel decisions based on their identity, it’s important for travel brands to be transparent and provide comprehensive, relevant information. Highlight community insights, reviews, and recommendations from other LGBTQIA+ travelers, and offer helpful guidance on safety and notable destination information to help with travel planning.

More than four in five LGBTQIA+ travelers ranked safety as a top priority

LGBTQIA+ travelers prioritize their safety

To prevent potential harassment and surveillance, LGBTQIA+ travelers conduct extensive research to understand where their identity might not be accepted. Nearly three-quarters (73%) find identity-specific guides that identify hosts or businesses run by LGBTQIA+ owners, or signs showing LGBTQIA+ travelers are welcome, as important travel planning tools.

Despite their detailed research, many say it’s difficult to find key pieces of information to help inform their travel choices, as well as destinations and travel providers that will respect their identity.

  • 23% of LGBTQIA+ travelers and 48% of gender-expansive LGBTQIA+ travelers say it’s difficult to find reviews from those that share their identity.
  • 21% of LGBTQIA+ travelers and 54% of gender-expansive LGBTQIA+ travelers say it’s difficult to find a destination where they know they will be welcome.

To address these gaps, they’re turning to social media to share their own insights and find help — 73% of LGBTQIA+ travelers will share their positive experiences and 60% will share their negative experiences on social media.

Create safe and welcoming travel experiences

Because safety is a priority among these travelers, you should highlight your brand’s LGBTQIA+ inclusivity initiatives and safety measures in your marketing materials to reassure travelers and build trust. Spotlighting these details on your social media platforms can also help you reach travelers browsing on social channels and influence their booking decisions early on.

For hotels, we’ve made it easy for you to indicate your property is designated LGBTQIA+-friendly in search results so your property stands out to travelers.

Representation matters in travel marketing

Seven in 10 (70%) of LGBTQIA+ travelers say it’s important to see themselves represented in travel ads, but only one in ten (11%) feel represented in travel promotions.

This gap can prevent travelers from making travel plans, with 73% saying they are more likely to plan a trip when they see themselves in travel ads. This number jumps significantly when looking at LGBTQIA+ travelers who spend more on trips, as 88% of those who spend $7,000 or more on annual trips are more likely to plan a trip when they see their community reflected in travel promotions.

Improve representation in travel marketing

LGBTQIA+ travelers take notice when brands show up for them, including in their marketing. To develop authentic inclusive marketing campaigns, it’s important to be thoughtful in representing a variety of perspectives and include diverse imagery. Other best practices include acknowledging intersectionality, avoiding stereotypes, and using inclusive language, as well as featuring closed captioning and subtitles in video content.

Discover more tips and recommendations from our Inclusion & Diversity in Travel Advertising guidelines to help you deliver marketing campaigns that represent and cater to all people.

These LGBTQIA+ travel insights are just a sampling of our upcoming research on diversity and inclusion in the travel industry, launching soon. Until then, check out our Research and Insights for more traveler data and trends.