Exploring New Markets: The Gay & Lesbian Opportunity

By Darrell Schuurman Co-Founder, Canadian Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce | October 28, 2008

The hotel industry, and the tourism industry in general, has changed dramatically over the last several years. Everything from war, terrorism, the economy, the fluctuating exchange rates, and a variety of other negative travel influencers have made the industry much more volatile and challenging than ever before. The fight for market share has gotten tougher, and hotels have started to see the need to find new ways to grow that diminishing share.

So in an industry that remains increasingly competitive, how do you prevent a decrease in your market share, and what opportunities are there for you to grow your market share? One way is through diversification in your target markets. Hoteliers and the tourism industry need to look at alternative sources to tap into and to draw on.

The gay and lesbian market is one market that hotels and other tourism-based companies have for too long overlooked, or simply chose to ignore. But can the industry continue to ignore this market? Can you? The simple answer, in my opinion, is no. And why would you want to?

Most hoteliers understand the importance of diversifying their markets, but many aren't completely sold on the gay and lesbian market. I've identified three main reasons for why you and your hotel should choose to target this market.

1. Size of the Market

According to San Francisco based company Community Marketing Inc (www.communitymarketinginc.com), the US gay and lesbian travel market is worth an estimated $54.1 billion per year, or approximately 10% of the total US travel industry. Research shows that this market has a higher discretionary income, with 76% having household incomes above the national average. Not only do they have higher discretionary income, but they also tend to spend more when travelling. Is that really a market you want to continue to ignore?

Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.