LGBT Tourism Falls

LGBT Travel

Key findings from CMI's 14th Annual LGBT Tourism Study have been compiled from responses from self-identified gay and lesbian consumers who read LGBT publications, visit LGBT websites, and attend LGBT events. With over 4,700 responses, this study polled more respondents than any other LGBT tourism survey, and offers valuable insights about consumers who may be reached through LGBT-dedicated marketing initiatives.


Many of the questions are asked in consistent ways to a similar study panel, in order to identify LGBT travel trends and changes over time. The following "top ten" list presents findings that the CMI research team views as important changes or observations from the past year. For those new to CMI's research, all the questions provide important insight into the travel motivations, preferences and interests of gay men and lesbians.

1) Gay Men and Lesbian Booking Patterns
Gays and lesbians are primarily booking their travel directly via airline and hotel websites (56%) or through online travel agencies such as Travelocity or Orbitz (34%). Direct booking is significantly more important than web-based travel services, so for travel suppliers, developing relationships with the gay and lesbian community to encourage direct booking through your own website is extremely important.

Travel suppliers and destinations having an LGBT "microsite" with dedicated content is a positive motivator for LGBT consumers.

2) For the First Time in 15 years of sampling -- A Decrease in LGBT Travel
For the first time since our first study in 1994, CMI has seen a decrease in LGBT travel due to the deep and wide-reaching recession. This survey, taken in October 2009, was far more pessimistic than CMI's survey taken in October 2008, which largely showed a net-even in travel patterns. In the 2009 survey, nearly all travel categories saw some loss (except for regional travel). Business travel and cruise travel were the hardest-hit categories. That said, far more LGBT travelers took cruises in the past year than their mainstream counterparts (as in previous years), indicating that LGBT travelers are a viable cruise market even in down economies.

3) Recession-Influenced Travel Decreases Affecting Small and Medium-Sized Markets Worse than Big Markets
Every major city in North America except for Washington DC (perhaps an Obama effect) saw a decrease in gay and lesbian travel over the past 12 months. That decrease affected cities very differently. Major markets, including New York City, San Francisco and Las Vegas saw only small leisure travel decreases, usually less than 5%, while medium sized cities, destinations that are geographically isolated, and some resort towns saw more significant decreases over 10%, and for some, over 20%.

4) Staycations
Staycations were the only travel category to see an increase in 2009. When asked to specify how many regional drive vacations (i.e. including at least one night in a hotel) were taken, 66% indicated taking a longer regional drive vacation of more than two hours; 42% took a regional drive vacation where the drive was two hours or less; 14% took a trip where they stayed in a hotel in their own city. This trend should benefit some metropolitan markets. Cities such as Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington DC, which are all close to each other, will probably "trade" stays among LGBT residents.

Also of note is the 14% of gays and lesbians who reported taking a staycation at a hotel in their own town, defined as a very short drive or via public transportation. While this number may be smaller, with dedicated promotions this could be a way of filling hotel rooms during slower periods, especially if packaged with other local activities.

Visit Community Marketing, Inc. to read more or to download the complete report.

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