5 Ways to Attract the LGBTQ+ Experiences Traveler

LGBTQ+ travelers spend and do more on vacation, but they also expect a little more. Here are five essential insights from our latest report on how to attract this lucrative market

Four young adults laughing and smiling together outdoors. They appear diverse in appearance and style, with colorful clothing and accessories. The image conveys a sense of joy, friendship, and celebration, aligning with the article's focus on LGBTQ+ travelers and their vacation experiences.

The LGBTQ+ travel market is a growing and influential segment, demonstrating a significant impact on the tourism industry with their higher spending and increased participation in experiences compared to non-LGBTQ+ travelers. The latest research from Arival highlights how experience operators can better cater to this lucrative market.

Based on a survey of 1,000 U.S. travelers, the LGBTQ+ Experiences Traveler report provides insights on the LGBTQ+ segment of the U.S. traveler: who they are, what they want, and how they research, book and share experiences.

Banner for "The LGBTQ+ Experiences Traveler" report by Arival, June 2024. Shows people kayaking with rainbow flags and a group at the beach.

Here is a summary of the top five key findings from this report:

1. LGBTQ+ Travelers Spend More and Do More

LGBTQ+ travelers contribute significantly to the travel market, with the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) estimating their global spending at over $200 billion annually. In the U.S. alone, this segment accounts for more than $65 billion each year. This substantial spending is reflected in the type and number of experiences LGBTQ+ travelers engage in.

LGBTQ+ travelers tend to be younger than their non-LGBTQ+ counterparts, with 82% between the ages of 18-54 compared to 60% for other travelers. This younger demographic is more likely to seek out and spend on diverse experiences during their travels. They visit more attractions, engage in more outdoor activities, and participate in more tours than other travelers, often spending more money on these activities. For example, they visit two more attractions per trip, spending $60 more per attraction, and partake in two additional activities per trip with a 23% higher spend per activity.

2. Florida, California and New York Top Destination Choices for LGBTQ+ Travelers 

LGBTQ+ travelers have distinct preferences when it comes to destinations. They show a marked preference for amusement parks, sun and beach destinations, and cities. This is particularly evident among gay males, who are significantly more likely to visit amusement parks. Popular destinations include Florida, California, and New York, which offer a mix of city experiences and beach relaxation, as well as major theme parks.

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3. LGBTQ+ Travelers Prefer Brands that are Welcoming and Inclusive 

Inclusivity, representation, and personal safety are crucial factors for LGBTQ+ travelers when choosing destinations and travel brands. More than 66% of LGBTQ+ travelers prefer destinations and brands that are welcoming to LGBTQ+ individuals and people of color, compared to 39% of other travelers. They also tend to avoid places that do not align with their social and personal values.  This prioritization of safety and affirmation influences their travel decisions significantly.

4. Last Minute Booking, Online Sharing Prevalent Among LGBTQ+ Travelers 

Bar graph comparing LGBTQ+ and other travelers' habits for posting reviews and sharing experiences on various social media platforms. LGBTQ+ travelers show higher engagement across all platforms.

LGBTQ+ travelers are known for their last-minute booking habits, with nearly half booking their trips only one week in advance. This spontaneity is likely due to their younger age and financial flexibility. Additionally, LGBTQ+ travelers are more active in sharing their travel experiences online, posting reviews and content on platforms like Google, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram. This sharing behavior amplifies their impact on travel brands and destinations, making positive reviews and social media presence critical for operators.

5. Attracting the LGBTQ+ Traveler: Recommendations for Operators

To effectively tap into the LGBTQ+ travel market, operators should consider several key strategies:

Illustrate Representation with Inclusive Marketing

Ensure marketing materials reflect diverse and inclusive representations of people. This includes featuring all types of families in photos and videos to build trust and confidence in the brand. 

Demonstrate Authentic Inclusivity Efforts

Beyond marketing, operators must demonstrate genuine inclusivity in their offerings. This includes understanding and addressing the unique needs and safety concerns of LGBTQ+ travelers, fostering a welcoming environment.

Cater to LGBTQ+ Families

Recognize the growing number of LGBTQ+ travelers with children and design experiences that are supportive and welcoming to diverse family structures.

Recognize with Higher Spending Comes More Discernment

Acknowledge the higher spending power of LGBTQ+ travelers and ensure experiences are tailored to this affluent market. However, recognize that LGBTQ+ travelers are discerning: beware of falling into disingenuous “rainbow-washing.”

Engage in Collaborative Referrals: 

Develop partnerships with other inclusive businesses to provide bundled experiences or referrals, enhancing the overall travel experience and promoting safety and comfort.

Target Amusement Park Enthusiasts

Given the higher-than-average interest in amusement parks among LGBTQ+ travelers, experience operators in this sector should actively market to the LGBTQ+ community, especially as this group continues to grow and include more families.

The LGBTQ+ traveler segment is not only substantial in numbers but also in their economic impact on the travel industry. By focusing on inclusivity, genuine representation, and understanding their unique preferences and behaviors, tour and activity operators and visitor attractions can attract and retain this valuable market, ensuring mutual growth and success.

Banner for "The LGBTQ+ Experiences Traveler" report by Arival, June 2024. Shows people kayaking with rainbow flags and a group at the beach.

Learn more about these research findings and go deeper into relevant recommendations with Arival’s full report on the LGBTQ+ Experiences Traveler. Available exclusively to Insider Pro Access members. 

Become an Insider Pro Access member today and save 20% on Arival events. You also get access to the full library of Arival research, plus many other benefits such as free consulting sessions and special discounts from our partners, starting from $179 per year.

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