The debut of PROUD Experiences held recently in London (UK) created a unique 2- day b2b travel and lifestyle event bringing together travel suppliers, buyers and lifestyle brands targeting the LGBTQ+ global community which annually spends over $200billion according to the UNWTO.
Yet the positive impact of LGBTQ+ tourism and the PROUD Experiences event, reaches far beyond economic benefits, it also shines a light on exhibitors advocating LGBTQ+ rights, presenting a powerful marketing and brand image of tolerance and respect for diversity.
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In 2019 PROUD Experiences will bring international premium travel brands, destinations, products and services together with relevant buyers and agents from USA, Europe and Latin America. This second edition for the LGBTQ+ travel industry will take place in New York at 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, happening at a pivotal moment for the City which not only celebrates World Pride but also the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising in 2019.
The first PROUD Experiences showed how the LGBTQ+ traveler has become a dynamic segment of the industry and a powerful vehicle for business development for every exhibitor. Statistics show that Gay travel accounts for 10% of travel spend, they decide on hotels based on two key aspects; price and gay friendly reputation. They on average take some 4-6 trips a year versus 1-2 for other sectors.
Cities chosen by the LGBTQ+ community as the most visited include New York, Sydney, Amsterdam, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, London, Paris, Berlin and Barcelona.
Research also shows that 43% of 40+ and 63% of younger groups prefer to book tailor-made holidays through an agency rather than online, supporting the PROUD Experiences hand-picked buyer program providing mutually matched appointments with exhibitors.
“PROUD Experiences was and will continue to be super-relevant on so many levels. Not only is there enormous business when the LGBTQ+ travel, but the time has come for hotels and travel professionals to take responsibility for the respect and relevance with which we need to be treated and considered. As individuals, we have done that ourselves for far too long – now it’s time for the industry itself to recognize our value and take charge of our needs. PROUD London showed me hotels and travel professionals prepared to stand up and acknowledge our world – and not everyone who attended was LGBTQ+ – which makes me even prouder.” Said Todd Cooper, HERMES Travel Brazil, one of the 65 international buyers who attended.
According to recent research from “Travel by Interest,” Gay families with kids prefer family friendly destinations and hotels rather than those focused only on the Gay community. Politics and safety are key for a gay traveler when choosing where to go and as the number of gay couples travelling grows, so brands need to consider how they promote themselves and manage their guest’s expectations.
To support the industry PROUD Experiences also presents a diverse cross section of Master Classes created by experts who tackle the key subjects and issues this sector faces with all attendees at the event able to be part of every session.
“As the world opens up to increasing numbers and diversity of travelers, so too grows the need to promote understanding, increase acceptance and advance equality. This event is a key business opportunity as research shows gay travelers are ranked among the most high-spending audiences, the majority favor the mid to high end luxury experiences, and they are also frequent travelers.” Commented Simon Mayle, Event Director PROUD Experiences.
“The success of episode one has shown how the premium travel industry wants to move forward, so bring it on again in New York 2019!” Added Mayle.
Supporting the style of the event exhibitors described their success: Lynne Narraway, MD UK & Ireland Seabourn Cruise Line, said: “I thought the event was very well organized, and the quality of the delegates was excellent”. Whilst Paula McColgan, Director of Sales & Marketing The Principal London added: “We consider the LGBTQ+ market vital to our hotel here in London. The opportunity to meet with international buyers and agents who specialize in this sector, was a real plus.”