'Engage the gay travel market to court the pink pound'

'Engage the gay travel market to court the pink pound'

Travel agents and operators trying to court the pink pound need to actively engage with the gay market if they are to win loyalty.

Pride London director Colm Howard-Lloyd, who organises the annual festival, said companies wishing to target the lesbian gay bisexual and transgender market must be prepared to first give something to the community to prove its intentions are genuine.

He said: "It's all very well to say: 'Here's our gay-friendly offering,' but the minute a tour operator says it is going to do a gay programme, we would wonder why.

"We know how valuable the pink pound is and we are really quite cynical about anyone taking advantage of it. We've seen through all that and that's why the organisations that actively work with the community and support it are the ones we trust.

"Travel companies that sponsor Pride realise there's a bit of give and take. If they spend money with us then it sends a sign to us that they're serious about our market and not trying to cash in."

Howard-Lloyd added that travel companies could prove their commitment to the LGBT market by sponsoring a number of festivals and events.

However, he warned companies that they cannot just buy their way in, they must be able to prove their companies adhere to gay-friendly employment practices in order to qualify.

Howard-Lloyd also said many LGBT travellers will still often look for specialist travel agents to help them secure the bookings they need rather than resorting to the internet.

He added: "Expedia is all very well but it is not different. The one thing a gay/lesbian travel agent can do is tell me what it is like in a destination and its appeal."

Howard-Lloyd was speaking at the European Symposium on Gay and Lesbian Tourism in London last week.


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