How Is the LGBTQ Traveler Different Than Our Fellow Straight Voyagers?

When it comes to doing it, are you someone that does it solo? With someone else? With a family member?

Travel is one of the highlights of most of our lives as it adds adventure, excitement, exploration, and blesses us with something new during our time here on earth. Many of us budget, save, plan, and research our vacations probably more than anything else in our lives. Sure, we buy a car every 3 to 10 years and buy a home maybe every 10 to 20, but travel, we do that from once a year to once a week and spend a heap load of time planning to make all of our treks just right.

But how do us gays travel?  Are we that different than the straights? 

No, no, no. The difference is not that being gay is expensive, but we sometimes do things a little differently when we travel and it shows.

MMGY Global has released a new research report, Portrait of LGBTQ+ Travelers in America™ mentioned as a comprehensive study into travel behaviors, sentiments and attitudes of the LGBTQ+ community. Was there enough differences to report? Are we that different?

Reading is Fundamental –

One of the key takeaways from the study is that representation in destination marketing materials is “very/extremely important” to us, the LGBTQ-ers. About 43% of “us” in the study stated it would make us feel more confident that the destination is inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community. We need to know, so that’s something these CVBs and hotel websites need to make note of and make it front and center.  Don’t tuck it away where we will overlook it or have to do a secret click to see. 

Rumor Has It –

Inclusion… check.  But what else do we pay attention to? What other considerations do we have? Additional concerns LGBTQ+ travelers are influenced by these other aspects when looking at vacation destinations:

  • Half of LGBTQ+ travelers said that the safety of a destination is a concern when deciding where to go.

  • Fifty-two percent of respondents said state politics related to their LGBTQ+ identity greatly impact their decision to travel.

  • Thirty-nine percent of respondents said that any negative perceptions locals and other tourists may have of the LGBTQ+ community make them uncomfortable and impact the destinations they choose. Additionally, 33% said these perceptions impact how they present themselves while traveling in a destination.

Is Daddy Paying? – 

Who is going to pay for that vacation?  Is daddy paying or is daddy the one going on vacation? The following are additional key findings from MMGY Global’s Portrait of LGBTQ+ Travelers in America™:

BFF digital image

Demographics

  • American LGBTQ+ travelers are on average younger, are more likely to be employed and have a lower household income than the average U.S. traveler.

  • Average age of an American LGBTQ+ traveler is 39 (Millennial), compared to 49 for all American travelers (Gen Z).

  • More than 60% of U.S. LGBTQ+ travelers fall within the Millennial or Gen Z generations.

Photo by Myicahel Tamburini

Trip Planning and Spending – 

Sometimes planning trips takes months because of logistic, visa, or you just really want it to be great. Other trips are spur of the moment and turn out great (or someone breaks a shoulder, but that’s another story).  But most of the time, the length of planning has a direct coefficient of how many people are going. Here are some other findings of the study:

Solo or in Pairs – 

  • LGBTQ+ travelers are more likely to travel solo and less likely to travel in pairs than other Americans, with 50% of LGBTQ+ respondents saying they travel solo and only 33% noting they travel in pairs.

  • Only 40% of U.S. travelers going solo and 40% traveling in pairs.

  • A nearly equal percentage of both groups report traveling with children (12% of LGBTQ+ travelers and 14% of U.S. travelers).

Photo by Kamaji Ogino

Price Per Trip – 

  • On average, U.S. LGBTQ+ travel parties spent $461 on each vacation in 2021 – slightly more than U.S. travel parties ($455). 

Why We Travel – 

  • LGBTQ+ travelers are most motivated by the desire to unwind, relax and explore new places, with more than 8 in 10 respondents citing these as the main motivators for them to travel.

  • Four in 10 are motivated by specific LGBTQ+ events and attractions.

Top Or Bottom Bunk – 

  • Hotels are the accommodation of choice for 47% of U.S. LGBTQ+ overnight travelers.

  • Hotels are the accommodation of choice for 55% of U.S. overnight travelers.

  • 23% of U.S. LGBTQ+ overnight travelers stay in non–paid accommodations, typically at the homes of friends/relatives.

Survey Says – 

So what does this mean for us? Is this earth shattering or history changing?  Depends on what you want to do with the info.  Do you now reach out to the world in a solo fashion as you see more LGBTQ travelers are doing so? Do you consider non-hotel stays and look at home share programs? Do you look to travel to less festival events and more winding down trips? 

And This Affects Me How –

This study is good for travel companies and Convention and Visitor’s Bureaus to purchase and learn from to assist their marketing and planning for the future. That is a given, but how does this relate to the regular ol’ gay traveler?

Does this study resonate with you? Are you one to travel alone? Do you do more home shares than hotels or couch surf at friends’ homes? Do you check out travel information on the safety and inclusivity of destinations before making plans? 

For me, personally, I may start looking at longer stays at places I’ve dabbled in before, which would mean less hotel stays and more home share stays as those rentals would be cheaper usually than a lengthy hotel reservation. But of course looking out for the literature on cities to see what areas may be more rainbow flowing and safe would be part of my process. As for solo or group travel, I feel I already do a good mix of that, but I do realize I need to branch out more when I travel by myself. 

I think any study that makes us look within and examine our patterns to see if they need some alterations is a good thing. What we definitely do know is after the abysmal 2020 to 2022 travel years, we are ready to mix things up, get back out there, and enjoy traveling once again.  

Photo by Oliver Sjöström

All proceeds from the sale of Portrait of LGBTQ+ Travelers in America™ will be donated to Brave Trails, a national non-profit organization that is dedicated to LGBTQ+ youth leadership. It offers accredited innovative programming inclusive of family camps, mentorship programs, meet-up groups and year-round activities to build tomorrow’s LGBTQ+ leaders.

MMGY Global thanks its sponsors for their contributions to this study: Destination DC, Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau, Tripadvisor and Visit Orlando. 

2 thoughts on “How Is the LGBTQ Traveler Different Than Our Fellow Straight Voyagers?”

  1. I love to travel. As a Gen X, did the tour bus with the 10 countries in 16 days. Now I travel by myself and explore one country at a time and maybe a side day trip to another country

    And I agree with the survey that safety is top priority and the perception on the LGBT is my deciding factor on where to go.

    Reply

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