Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender travelers are the targets of the latest promotional marketing effort by Seattle’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.
“In times like a down economy, this market is more ready to travel, and we need that,” said bureau spokesman David Blandford.
The bureau has partnered with the Greater Seattle Business Association — the largest LGBT chamber in the country — to convene an advisory task force of hotels, businesses, airlines, retail centers and other businesses to target the group through cooperative advertisements, travel packaging and direct outreach to promote Seattle as an ideal destination for LGBT tourists.
It’s no wonder. LGBT travelers make up 10 percent of the consumer travel market share and tend to have more disposable income than the average traveler, making them resistant to the effects of a tough economy.
According to a study released this month by Harris Interactive, 62 percent of American LGBT adults plan to travel the same or more than last year, compared to just 36 percent of heterosexual adults. And while heterosexual travelers on average said they would spend $1,500 on business and leisure travel in the next four months, LGBT travelers said they’d spend $2,300.
Seattle already has one big draw: It has the second-highest percentage of LGBT residents of any American city, a plus for a group of travelers who like to go where they feel welcome.
But it ranked only 14th in a 2009 survey of the top national LGBT leisure travel destinations (though San Francisco-based firm Community Marketing noted the city’s relatively remote location and its proximity to Canada might skew its standing).
To tourism officials and local businesses who expect a “soft” tourist season this year, that can only mean one thing: It’s time to get the word out.
“As open and welcoming as we are as a city, it has taken a while for people to see the value in reaching out to our community,” said Louise Chernin, executive director of GSBA. “We don’t have to sweep up to do this. We just have to be intentional about welcoming people.”
The effort has already produced Seattle’s first-ever LGBT travel guide, published by Seattle-based ‘mo magazine. Other materials like maps of popular LGBT destinations and hotel concierge packages containing lists of LGBT-owned businesses are in the works, Chernin said.
Stranger syndicated sex columnist Dan Savage said the effort could “reap rewards” for the city, but could fall flat if the Seattle’s annual gay pride parade falters. Parade organizers owed the city more than $100,000 last year.
“You can do a Web marketing campaign that says, ‘Come to Seattle,'” Savage said. “But if you’ve sued the parade out of existence, it’s not going to get you very far.”