Visit Helsinki, and Tourismus & Congress Frankfurt have become the first destination tourism offices to develop targeted training specifically for travel agents and tour operators aimed at increasing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) visitors to their cities. The deals were struck at World Travel Market 2012 where Visit Helsinki was one of 12 companies that exhibited in the first-ever WTM LGBT Pavilion.
The new training modules will be built and managed by LGBT marketing firm Out Now Global, which organised the WTM LGBT Pavilion. It is believed to be the first time that a specific LGBT-focused training content has been available to mainstream travel agents. The training modules will be launched in early 2013 in partnership with WTM exhibitor OTT, the worldʼs largest provider of online training for travel agents; and TTG Knowledge, as part of their already comprehensive suite of training modules and courses.
A general LGBT awareness training module is also being made available online at http://ott.travel/LGBT/home.aspx, giving practical advice for agents to use when dealing with LGBT customers. The courses are being made available free of charge by Out Now Business Class, a leading LGBT networking association for global LGBT tourism business development.
The new destination specific e-learning courses will be free for all travel agents who have completed this initial course, and will be marketed and available to a global network of over 60,000 travel trade professionals through OTTʼs comprehensive database.
The new training content is informed by Out Nowʼs LGBT2020 research, the worldʼs largest global research into LGBT people’s lives. That research reveals that a significant number of LGBT tourists are now booking travel through mainstream travel agents and tour operators.
Ian Johnson, Chief Executive and founder of Out Now, said: “This new initiative has the potential to expand the market reach for LGBT sales substantially. Travel agents and tour operators now account for more than 30% of all LGBT sales in most markets globally, so by providing specialist training and relevant LGBT product information we are able to give our partner destinations a much enhanced competitive edge.
“Thanks to OTT this new training resource is being made available to an extensive global network of more than 60,000 travel agents and tour operators.”
Research from the LGBT2020 study released at WTM 2012 revealed that the global LGBT tourism spend during 2013 will top USD$181 billion.
Hanna Muoniovaara, Marketing Manager at Visit Helsinki, said: “It is critical we build smart strategic partnerships. Out Now Business Class is a well-designed and highly effective way for us to strengthen our trade relationships to expand sales in the LGBT market.”
As well as featuring LGBT nightlife and festivals, each destination-specific training module will highlight other key activities and areas of interest to LGBT travellers. The importance of cuisine, local history, museums, art galleries, walking, beaches, mainstream nightlife, as well as art and events have all been analysed for each partner destination based on ranking the relevant importance of each for respondents to the LGBT2020 global research study when they travel.
The incorporation of this information into the bespoke training modules for each destination not only helps agents understand which are a destination’s key assets for this market, but also shows insight and affinity with an audience that has become bored by cliched approaches to marketing and advertising. Agents learn about gay neighbourhoods, local nightlife options and a range of other relevant information of great interest to most LGBT travellers.
“World Travel Market’s main focus is to facilitate business for its exhibitors. I am delighted that an industry-first deal has been negotiated and concluded at WTM to the benefit of four of our exhibitors,” said Fiona Jeffery, Reed Travel Exhibitions’ Chairman World Travel Market.
The new general LGBT training module is available online now and the specialist destination modules will be available to more than 60,000 OTT travel agents and tour operators, free of charge, from early 2013.