Predicted growth in LGBTQ+ travel evidenced by increase in the number of travel agents specializing in advising the market. PROUD announces initial program of expert Masterclasses created to support industry understanding.
More than 150 international, regional, and local travel brands will gather in Los Angeles USA from 5-7 June this year for the world’s leading luxury & lifestyle LGBTQ+ travel industry event, PROUD Experiences to showcase a sector that continues to grow year on year. “We know that travel brands are looking to ramp up their participation in PROUD because of our exclusivity to the sector but didn’t expect that our event in its new LA home, would be a virtual sell out so soon,” said PROUD Experiences Event Director, Simon Mayle.
In the US, 8% of Boomers consider themselves LGBTQ+. Each generation has a successively larger LGBTQ+ demographic , showing that 31% of Centennials or Gen Z identify as LGBTQ+. In the UK, Gen Z are more than twice as likely than any other to identify as LGBTQ+.
The 150 brands participating include over 60 new exhibitors from 7 continents, ranging from international brands such as 21 C Hotels, Six Senses and Small Luxury Hotels of the World and independent hotels such as Cheval Blanc St-Barth Isle de France plus many more. New destinations include the Islands of Tahiti, Santa Monica Tourism and Visit Buenos Aires.
Simultaneously, the increase in travel advisors and bespoke planners now focused on advising and creating specialist experiences for the LGBTQ+ traveler has also grown, supporting a contribution to the travel industry worth more than $218billion pre pandemic worldwide. Buyers from more than 10 countries will be hosted at the event and take part in over 34 one-to-one appointments during the show.
Joel Cabrera, Chief Travel Officer at Zoom Vacations commented: “Zoom Vacations is looking forward to meeting PROUD Experience exhibitors who are 1) the best in their field, 2) have a willingness to develop a personalized relationship with Zoom Vacations to deliver their product and/or services, and 3) are excited to welcome our high-net-worth LGBTQ+ guests to their property and/or products.”
“This will be the biggest gathering of industry professionals meeting to do business together in support of the LGBTQ+ traveler. The population of LGBTQ+ adults is increasing, spending more on travel and is leading the way in post pandemic travel. The hospitality industry has a responsibility for each of its guests and our Masterclasses are all about the real actions, not just the words travel brands can and should take to welcome all,” added Mayle.
Ed Salvato, an educator in tourism marketing and a respected LGBTQ+ travel thought leader, designed this year’s Masterclass sessions. “PROUD Masterclass sessions offer practical advice, real-life case studies and action points to move from discussion to action.” Salvato said. “We empower buyers and suppliers to understand the specific needs, concerns, and behaviors of LGBTQ+ travelers to engage with them authentically and create an inclusive hospitality environment.”
“Diversity and inclusion are core principles in hospitality. Mainstream marketing campaigns and ‘pink washing’ are ineffective. Brands must expand marketing beyond annual Pride Month campaigns to leverage the lucrative LGBTQ+ segment’s travel patterns the other 11 months of the year.”
Masterclass sessions, led by esteemed U.S.-based and international speakers, include:
- The “power of the invitation” illustrating the effectiveness of authentic engagement with LGBTQ+ travelers and the importance of attracting, elevating and working with diverse voices in an inclusive environment.
- Two inspiring sessions highlighting the importance of creating safe and welcoming spaces in the culinary and wellness and sporting worlds with all-women panels.
- Levelling up: Moving from ‘say’ to ‘do’ with a hands-on session to help you establish an LGBTQ+ strategy.
- Suppliers: creating an inclusive/LGBTQ+ welcome with best practices.
- Buyers: developing LGBTQ+ business and best practices.
Acknowledging the need to help travel advisors understand the LGBTQ+ traveler, headline sponsor for PROUD Experiences, Internova Travel Group’s Executive Vice President, Partner Relations, Albert Herrera, said: “Our mission at Internova is to empower our network of travel advisors with the most exceptional programs, products and support to deliver unparalleled experiences to the traveler.”
“Everyone deserves to enjoy the beauty and luxury of travel, and everyone deserves to feel safe and valued while away from home. That’s why we work hard with our community of advisors and travel supplier partners to plan journeys, explore destinations and offer experiences where members of the LGBTQ+ community are welcomed, seen, heard, appreciated and understood.”
Also sponsoring the event this year, Sarah Robbins, Chief Operating Officer, 21c Museum Hotels commented: “21c Museum Hotels are longtime advocacy leaders in the LGBTQIA+ community and support events like PROUD Experiences to educate travel advisors and planners on our brands inclusive travel offerings. Art can be a wonderful way to celebrate & raise social issues and we utilize our brand ethos regarding inclusivity from global sales initiatives to team member engagement. We believe that the more authentic the employee experience is, the more genuine service is provided to our guests.”
Adam Burke, Los Angeles Tourism President & CEO, welcomes the event to the city: “I believe that diversity and inclusiveness are LA’s greatest strengths, and I’m proud that our City of Angels celebrates, welcomes, and embraces the LGBTQ+ community every single day. We’re honored to roll out the red carpet for PROUD Experiences and look forward to exploring how we can collectively create a more equitable and inclusive global tourism community.”
Simon Mayle concluded; “It isn’t too late for the travel industry to make some positive change, but the key is doing it with purpose and authenticity.”
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She holds a Bachelor's degree in Communication & Mass Media from Panteion University of Political & Social Studies of Athens and she has been editor and editor-in-chief in various economic magazines and newspapers.