Thailand’s LGBT Marketing Pushing Quality Tourism
This past week I moderated an LBGT tourism event organized by Hotelintel at the Siam Hotel in Bangkok.
It was a fresh look at a dynamic travel segment which generally sits as a niche market in upscale tourism, and one in which Thailand is a key global player.
One of the key discussion points was getting a handle on numbers or metric, which hotel groups are often possessed by. I researched data on LGBT and perhaps in terms of global market size the arguably estimated market is in the range of half a billion people. Shake this down to an international travel level and its anywhere from 50 to 100 million as a conservative estimate.
Taking a Thailand view, or Bangkok most specifically the Silom area continues to be a strong draw card. Venues that host regular LGBT events include Maggie Choo’s and Sofitel So Hotel.
Big regional events also play into the equation and are big generators of business. Mainland Chinese tend to travel to Bangkok and Taipei as do those from Singapore, and Hong Kong.
Interesting for hotelier’s in the session was how to actually put numbers to the segment, or was there really a need to? Key touch points continue to be design, boutique offerings, location driven and an importance of good cuisine.
Another point raise was staff training and how in the past two men checking into a room were assigned twin beds and now, the de factor would be a single larger bed and a change back to twins, if requested.
Thailand’s key ability to attract the LGBT crowd comes in making guests feel safe, secure and welcome, Even the government’s TAT organization broke ground with their “Go Thai, Be Free’” campaign.
New digital sites that are focusing on the segment were talked about, including The Gay Passport. Generally speaking the panelists and attendees agreed it that there was no need to classify or tag hotels as LGBT but it was more a matter of understanding the key drivers of demand and fitting into this.
Overall the LGBT travel market is important to Thailand, given strong repeat visitation, high spending with considerable discretionary spending power and an attraction to quality accommodation.