The travel industry is always in a constant state of change, from new security measures to innovative advances to make travel easier. Travel agents always have their finger on the pulse of any new innovative changes that may directly affect their clients. With an increase in progressive and visible societal changes for the LGBTQ+ community, we asked our LGBT travel specialists to spill the tea about what they’ve noticed when customizing travel for this segment of travelers. Here are 6 travel trends have directly affected or shifted how LGBTQ+ travelers plan their vacations.
Smaller Cruise Lines
Most gay male travelers are familiar with Atlantis Events Cruises that feature well-known singers and fun theme parties, ranging from the White Party to the Dog Tag T-Dance. Just make sure you are wardrobe-ready before you board the ship. This popular vacation is starting to see a slight shift, according to our LGBTQ+ travel specialists. “More of my clients are moving from the all-gay mega cruise ships to the smaller, more intimate European river cruises,” said Leigh Gernert, a Los Angeles-based travel agent. LGBTQ+ travelers are still booking large cruise-ship experiences, and they still remain popular among the community. However, this trend highlights that gay travelers are looking for new and unique travel experiences that they may only get by traveling on a luxury river cruise.
More of my clients are moving from the all-gay mega cruise ships to the smaller, more intimate European river cruises.
Booking a smaller European river cruise also provides travelers with the opportunity to extend their stay and explore other destinations. “These European cruises open the door to the entire European travel market, said Leigh. “Individuals who take them want to ‘add on’ another destination since they’ve already paid their airfare to Europe for the cruise.” That means travelers get to indulge in other European destinations that may not appear on the river cruise itinerary.
Groups vs. Solo Travel
Our LGBT travel specialists have also noticed an increase in group bookings versus solo vacations. “The LGBTQ community is traveling more in groups as opposed to individual travel,” said Jose Luis Lopez, a New York-based travel agent and founder of Fontane Travel. He explains that people feel safe traveling as a group when exploring a new destination, and that traveling with a group of friends also maximizes the fun factor. Who doesn’t want more fun while traveling during their vacation?
LGBT travel specialist Kelli Carpenter agrees that there is an increase in traveling together as a group. “Whether it be on full charters of cruise ships, river cruises, resorts or hosted group tours, our community tends to lean towards a shared travel experience.”
More Exotic Locations
“The LGBTQ+ community is traveling to far-away places to explore nature and embark on new adventures. People are looking to the exotic,” said Keith Wein, a New York-based travel agent and founder of 127 Travel. And sometimes the exotic includes places where there may be a poor human rights record against LGBTQ+ citizens, such as the Middle East. However, travel agents often advise their clients to make common-sense decisions when traveling to these places. For example, gay couples should avoid overt displays of public affection when traveling to Egypt.
The LGBTQ+ community is traveling to far-away places to explore nature and embark on new adventures
“When I think of my own travel, as a lesbian, I don’t want to be told there isn’t anywhere I can’t go if I really want to, and that’s what I tell my LGBTQ travelers,” said Shelly Bunge, a Beverly Hills-based travel agent. “Instead, what I tell them is to be smart!” A clear message gay travelers should understand before traveling to some exotic, off-the-beaten-path travel destinations.
Increase in Younger Travelers
Another popular trend that Shelly has noticed is the increase in younger travelers. “I’m seeing LGBTQ travelers are just more excited about travel than ever, especially younger travelers,” she said. These millennial travelers more adventurous, curious, more socially aware, and more tuned into reducing their carbon footprint while traveling the world – all characteristics of the ideal globe trotter, according to the LGBT travel specialist.
Travel for Special LGBTQ+ Events
Most of the travel agents we talked to also agreed that the LGBTQ+ community continues to support gay-themed events, such as Family Week in Provincetown, Mass., International Mr. Leather Week in Chicago and Bears Week in Sitges, Spain. LGBTQ+ travelers are planning and booking trips that feature special events that celebrate who they are! “More and more clients are traveling to specific destinations either for its Gay Pride Festival, a Bear Week, a Leather Week, or even a Family Week for LGBTQ families with kids,” said Leigh Gernert. “Good LGBT travel specialists have to be prepared for any kind of request they might get.”
Travel Industry More LGBTQ+ Inclusive
The travel industry continues to take steps to embrace the LGBTQ+ community to make us feel included. “I’ve seen new players in the market catering to “inclusive” vacations, trying to bring LGBT and non-LGBT people together in travel,” said Greg Kiep, a Beverly Hills-based travel specialist. Cities and countries are adopting progressive views to court and encourage LGBTQ+ travelers to visit and spend their money in travel destinations from Fort Lauderdale to Tel Aviv. Even small changes will have a ripple effect across the travel industry, according to San Diego-based travel agent, Danielle Rouviere. “It can be seen with airlines adding new gender options for those that are non-binary.” She added, “U.S airlines recently announced that they will be the first to include more options, and others will inevitably follow.”
Inspired by this article and want to speak with an expert travel agent about how you can plan an unforgettable LGBTQ+-friendly vacation? Let one of Vacation’s on-call travel experts match you with an expert LGBT travel specialist, who can customize the dream itinerary that you deserve.