Marketing the Rainbow

Travel & Hospitality

~ case studies ~


One of the most successful areas of gay (& lesbian) marketing has been the Travel branche. The travellers' desire to spend their limited number of holidays in a friendly, or even "all-gay" environment, plus the large spendings involved in travel, have made this an early target of attention - not just for "LGBT owned and operated" companies like Atlantis or RSVP, but also for mainstream cruise operators, airlines, hotels, travel agents and DMO's (Destination Marketing Organizations, also often called CVB: Convention & Visitors Bureau).


The US Supreme Court's striking down of the Defense of Marriage Act in 2014 and the expansion of marriage equality the next year sparked more businesses to publicly reach out to the community - as if the last taboos were taken away.


Internationally, associations like the IGLTA and GETA are funneling marketing efforts and strategies.


And then there are car rental agencies, public transport companies, restaurants...

Travel & Hospitality

- an introduction

  • American Airlines: the first airline to choose for LGBT marketing in 1994, after the “pillows and blankets incident”.
  • Orbitz: the launch of, and Ms. Richfield 1981 as the face of Orbitz.
  • Expedia: from denial to support - LGBT friendly in 12 steps.
  • Thomson: let Freedom range - and then let it go.
  • Philadelphia: The City of Brotherly Love gets your history straight and your nightlife gay.
  • Kimpton Hotels: known for perks such as a complimentary wine hour, bikes, and yoga mats in each room - a winner!
  • Hilton: Stay Hilton. Go Out. & wedding bells.
  • Marriott: Be You. With Us. and #LoveTravels - how the Mormon hotelier courted the LGBT.
  • Atlantis Events: the way they play conquered the gay cruise market.
  • Other Cruise Operators: Olivia, R Family and La Demence - plus the mainstreamers organizing Friends of Dorothy meetings.
  • Public transport: semi-governmental and non-profit, but still aiming at the rainbow customer.
  • Amtrak: the US largest operator of trains.