Helping you tap into a â‚¬50 billion market
Paul Barnes, GETAâ€™s Communications Director, is a former divisional Managing Director of the worldâ€™s top Public Relations company and has a lifetimeâ€™s experience in helping organisations big and small to communicate effectively with their key audiences. Here he gives his overview of marketing to the gay community.
Gay people are a marketing manâ€™s dream. Not only do they tend to have more disposable income and travel more than their straight friends but reaching out to gay people is relatively easy.
Just think about how you would market your hotel or travel-related business to the general public. Where do you advertise? How do you get the maximum coverage without paying huge advertising fees? Well, marketing to the gay world is much easier.
First of all, there are only a small number of gay publications and websites worldwide, often just one or two magazines in a particular country. Magazines are a great way to get your business in front of gay people. Not every gay person reads gay magazines, but you know that if you want to target gay people in a particular country, using these publications is a sure way to reach a good proportion of them. And, compared with many magazines, their advertising rates are very reasonable. Travel businesses big and small can easily afford to place advertisements in the gay press.
Most of these publications are high-quality lifestyle, news, fashion and travel magazines which means that they are kept for a long time and get read by more than just one person. Some of these magazines are free and available in gay clubs and bars so they get a wide circulation. So you get many more 'hits\ for your budget.
GETA Executive Members have access to the GETA Media Directory which provides details, country by country, of the worldâ€™s top gay magazines and how to advertise in them. It's a unique resource, because it means you can compare lots of publications quickly and easily - saving you hours of work.
Many of these magazines have travel sections. Generating good, gay-friendly news stories or inviting a journalist out on a press trip are good ways of getting coverage without great expense. And articles carry far more weight than advertisements.
Research shows that most gay people rely on the internet for finding accommodation. For those of you marketing a hotel, guesthouse or B&B, the largest and most comprehensive website for gay travellers in Europe is GayWelcome.com, GETA's ''consumer website'. Gay Welcome is a great way to get your property in front of gay travellers. Upgrade your property's listing to 'Premium' and you can add even more information and photographs , and also secure a higher position in the 'results' rankings. The Gay Welcome website also offers a lot of advertising opportunities - targetable by geographic area of Europe - allowing any business to gain access to the site's high-spending gay users.
Then there are dating websites. These have huge memberships. The big ones internationally are Manhunt, Gaydar and Adam4Adam. But countries have their own favourites â€“ Citigay in France, for example, or Gayromeo in Germany. A quick look at the destination guides on GETAâ€™s Gay Welcome consumer website will give you an idea of the popular dating sites in the larger European countries. Some hotels and destinations do advertise on these although their international reach and appeal to big corporates tend to make them more expensive.
Websites & blogs
The internet is teaming with gay lifestyle sites and blogs such as towleroad.com and ohlalamag.com. Even some large mainstream sites have gay elements, for example, huffingtonpost.com has a well-read gay voices section.
Then there are events where gay people go. These might be pride festivals worldwide or travel exhibitions with 'pink' corners. These give you the chance to meet gay people and show them that you are keen to welcome them to your hotel. The Gay Welcome Events Section is a great place to start - it lists all the biggest upcoming gay or gay-popular events throughout Europe.
The problem with these is that they tend to be time-consuming and costly. One way around this is to get GETA and Gay Welcome to display your material on their corporate stands at conferences and exhibitions. This can be a far more cost and time-effective way to spreading the word. GETA will list all of its 2013 exhibition appearances on its website but these normally include ITB in Berlin and the World Travel Market in London.
What to say?
So, given that there are clear ways to communicate with gay people, what should you be saying?
GETA will list all of its 2013 exhibition appearances on its website but these normally include ITB in Berlin and the World Travel Market in London.
Most important is that you should show that you mean it when you say you welcome gay people. Gay people know they are a lucrative market, and are now used to being targeted by advertising within the gay press. But they can recognise 'pink-wash' when they see it - advertisers who clearly just want access to the gay market but don't seem to understand our needs and perspectives. Companies that don't 'get' us are less like to get our money.
So you need to be sincere and genuine and show that you understand your gay market. For a start, you cannot always use the same advertisement for gay people as you would use for your straight customers. Companies placing adverts in a gay magazine of a man and woman holding hands in their hotel are wasting their money. If itâ€™s aimed at gay people make it about gay people, not just your standard advert placed in a gay magazine.
Make it real
Or you could demonstrate your more open-minded attitude to gay people by supporting the gay community. There are plenty of charities large and small, national and local - everything from fighting for gay equality to promoting gay health and gay support groups. Find your local one and make a donation, or offer a stay in your hotel as a raffle prize, or hold a function or buy a table at their annual dinner. Do something to show that you are engaged with the gay community rather than just treating us as another market segment.
You can also show that you understand the gay community and the fact that it is not just one community but lots of different market segments. Lesbians are not the same as gay men. 'Bears' are different to 'party boys'. Romantic weekends away are perfect for some, pride weekends are great for others. Gay weddings are a new and growing market creating opportunities for receptions and honeymoons. All of these let you appeal to a particular group of gay person.
Of course, your best advertisements are satisfied gay guests. This means they have to be made to feel welcome. GETAâ€™s Executive Director, Carlos Kytka, himself a former hotel manager, gives his tips on how to do this in another GETA article: "Do I have to paint my hotel pink to welcome gay travellers?". If gay people feel good about the experience they have had in your hotel they will come back again and they will tell their friends. The Gay Welcome website allows guests to leave comments about their stay, a bit like Trip Advisor, but with much more of a focus on how welcoming your hotel is to gay people. So having a listing on Gay Welcome, and getting good reviews over time, is a great way to market your hotel, B&B or guesthouse cost-effectively.
GETA will be exploring all of these issues in more detail to help you. The great thing is that the high-spending gay market is both worth appealing to and easy to appeal to - the perfect combination.