We are reporting from the Family Travel Association Summit in sunny Bermuda, where one of the sessions focused on LGBT family travel. It was presented by Kelli Carpenter and Gregg Kaminsky, founders of R Family Vacations, which specializes in this market segment. They gave some great tips on selling LGBT family travel—everything from where to send clients to which brands work tirelessly to make LGBT clients feel included. Here’s a roundup of what travel advisors who want to get into this booming market should be looking for. Incidentally, LGBT family travel includes both LGBT parents with kids and LGBT adults with straight family and friends.
The first thing you need to understand: The LGBT community has money to spend, so this is a market you don’t want to ignore. Eighty percent of the LGBT community, according to stats presented by Carpenter and Kaminsky, has a higher income than the average U.S. population. Eighty-three percent of the community has passports; they take 3.2 vacations a year; and stay 10 nights per year in paid accommodations.
Where They Travel
First and foremost, LGBT families are looking for family-friendly destinations, but they also want to go where they feel safe and to a destination that’s inclusive of their lifestyle. Their travels are a way to show their kids that “there are other families that look like them,” points out Kaminsky. For families who live in places that are not tolerant to the LGBT community, says Carpenter, “this vacation is a time when the kids get to see their parents holding hands.” With that in mind, travel advisors should always send LGBT families to places that are tolerant of this community, and to brands that support and welcome them, say the pair.
Carpenter and Kaminsky point to London, Tel Aviv, Mykonos, Amsterdam, Puerto Vallarta, Barcelona, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico and Cape Town internationally, as well as emerging destinations such as Cuba, Iceland and Colombia as places that welcome LGBT families, and domestically they say Palm Springs, Ft. Lauderdale, Key West, Ogunquit, Provincetown, the Hamptons, South Beach and Rehoboth Beach are ideal. They also note that urban cities such as New York, Chicago, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Dallas and the like are great LGBT family travel destinations.
The LGBT family travel market is also big on cruising for the same reason that a traditional family might choose a cruise, but they pay special attention to which cruise lines support them, pointing to Celebrity, Carnival, and Uniworld. Other brands that create inclusivity for the LGBT market include Marriott, Delta Air Lines, and Kimpton.
One of the most important things that both Carpenter and Kaminsky point to is that travel advisors need to be sensitive to the needs of the LGBT family and ask questions—it’s best to ask questions prior to the trip than for the client to be disappointed once they are on the trip. Ask about the bedding, for example: one bed or two; make sure they travel with documentation due to the different last names; and “be proactive with resort/cruise/hotel,” they say.
For more information on family travel—LGBT or otherwise—visit familytravel.org. For more information on R Family Vacations, visit rfamilyvacations.com. For a better understanding of the gay and lesbian travel market, visit iglta.org.