Broward Tourism Officials Hope to Draw More LGBT Families with Children to Area

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To attract more gay parents with children, hotels might consider installing baby-changing stations in their men's restrooms.

That was one takeaway from a survey unveiled Friday for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau on travel by LGBT families.

The Broward County bureau is the first in North America to commission a survey on that growing travel segment, which has been little targeted to date.

Today, LGBT couple traveling with children are mainly women. Lesbian and bisexual women are about 2.5 times more likely than gay and bisexual men to have children, said David Paisley, senior reseacher at Community Marketing & Insights, a San Francisco firm specialized in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender markets.

But that imbalance is poised to shrink, as more than 60 percent of young LGBT women and men say they want to have children, said Paisley.

"We could be experiencing a gay baby boom in the future, and destinations need to prepare for that," he told a morning session of CMI's conference on LGBT Tourism and Hospitality held this year in Fort Lauderdale.

LGBT parents typically seek much the same things as straight parents in choosing a hotel for their family: child-friendly amenities such as a swimming pool and bathrooms near the pool. They look first at hotel websites to select where to stay – and donlt turn first to LGBT-specific media, studies show.

"Family-friendly trumps LGBT-friendly by a 2 to 1 ratio" in how LGBT families choose hotels, Paisley said.

The research suggests that Broward might look to include photos and video of LGBT families in marketing campaigns aimed at family travelers in general, said Richard Gray, the tourism bureau's LGBTQ managing director.

"The gay families integrate. They are not looking per se to be around gay families. They view themselves as mainstream travelers who happen to be gay," said Gray in starting to devise a strategy for that segment.

Gray said the bureau is just starting to delve into results from the Oct. 22-Nov. 2 survey to figure out ways to bring more LGBT families to Broward. "This is going to be a commitment for us," he said.

One area for action could be training for hotel staff. The survey found 40 percent of LGBT family travelers said they received positive, unsolicited comments from straight travelers; 15 percent received negative, unsolicited comments from straight travelers; and 7 percent received negative comments or attitudes from hotel staff.

Broward has been pioneering gay tourism marketing since 1996 and is the only tourism agency of its kind in North America with a LGBTQ department, officials say. That focus has helped the county last year attract 1.5 million LGBT travelers who spent $1.5 billion – representing about 10 percent of total tourism in Broward.


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