Gay Marketing: Case Example - Reaching the Gay & Lesbian Travel Market
By Darrell Schuurman Co-Founder, Canadian Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce | October 28, 2008
Hotels are facing ever increasing competition and challenges, and must continually identify new ways to grow market share. For the past few months I've told you about the opportunities that lie with targeting the gay and lesbian travel market, and how to be successful in your efforts. I'm sure you've been thinking how interesting it all was, but wondering if it works. So this issue I've decided to let you see first hand the process, experiences, and results a small luxury, three property hotel company went through to reach the gay and lesbian travel market.
In 1997, three landmark hotels in the small historic town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario joined to create Vintage Inns. Now known as Vintage Hotels, it is a collection of three CAA/AAA four-diamond hotels offering a total of 374 guest rooms, over 30,000 square feet of meeting space, three four-diamond restaurants, and two spas. Over the past nine years, Vintage Hotels has grown to offer some of the most spectacular hotel properties in Ontario, and has helped the Niagara region become a top tourist destination.
In 2005, Vintage Hotels decided to look at targeting the gay and lesbian travel market. After extensive research and discussions with organizations like the Canadian Tourism Commission and other industry resources, they soon realized that this market was worth reaching out to. According to Colin Sines, Director of Marketing for Vintage Hotels, "it is a market that has discretionary income, that takes more than one trip per year, has estimated spending power of $540 billion, is an affluent and loyal affinity group, and that 84% of gay and lesbian travelers hold valid passports (compared to the national average of 29%)." But even more importantly than the fact that it is an attractive market, it is a natural fit for Vintage Hotels. From their market research, Vintage Hotels knew that their properties were what the gay and lesbian traveller demanded. As a result, in November of 2005, Vintage Hotels began to actively campaign to reach the gay and lesbian traveller.
In their efforts over the past year, Vintage Hotels has realized the importance of planning and approaching this new market strategically. Vintage Hotels has demonstrated this in the products they serve and the activities done to reach the market.
Product, Packaging, and Partnerships
Vintage Hotels understood the importance of having gay and lesbian specific product available for this market. Through their research, they knew what the market demanded, and saw opportunity. Vintage Hotels was able to use their existing services to create product specific for the gay and lesbian travel market. They leveraged their recently renovated 13,000-square-foot spa (with a wide selection of services to "soothe body and soul") to offer spa packages targeted to gay and lesbian visitors.