Folks – three cheers for the fact that we’re halfway through 2020! Woohoo!! #ByeFelicia
Canada Day AND Pride Month have both come and gone, and celebrations for both were quite different this year!
Toronto’s always highly anticipated Pride Parade/Pride Weekend was, of course, taken virtual due to Covid-19. And while this isn’t the first event to go virtual due to the pandemic, and it was super fun and well attended, it also left a massive economic hole in its wake.
How massive? Check these numbers from Pride/Pride Weekend, 2019:
🌈 1.7 million+ Pride Toronto attendees
🌈 $100,000+ donated to charity
🌈 A whopping $374 million to Ontario’s GDP
🌈 $149 million in tax revenue
🌈 And events directly supported 3,392 jobs
That’s why we wanted to chat with Dale McDermott, COO of Canada’s LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce. He shared some amazing statistics with us about the dollar-power impact the LGBTQ+ community has on business in general, and travel and tourism specifically.
He is also vehemently vocal (and so he should be!) about why it behooves those in the travel industry to give their marketing a shake, become more inclusive, and tap into what is a year-round, $12 billion-dollar travel market.
As he says, if any group of consumers is going to help our economy bounce back post-Covid-19, it’s the LGBTQ+ community.
It’s a fascinating conversation, and you can access the entire episode with Dale by clicking here, or, if you prefer to get the “appetizer version,” just keep reading!
Opportunities for Businesses Big and Small
“We know that the LGBT plus travel market is worth around $12 billion, year-round. And that basically means, for the average trip, the average traveler is spending about 1800 dollars per trip, which – when you compare that to the general population – that’s about seven times higher. And we also know that, given COVID, this represents a massive opportunity because the Canadian traveler is really going to have to look local in terms of what their travel focus is going to be and where they’re going to go. So, our message to cities, decision makers, and businesses all across Canada is this represents a significant opportunity. From a business perspective, this is a lot of money. Certainly, as we’re looking to exit COVID and reopen our economy in a safe way that the LGBT plus travel market is going to be one of the first industries and categories to bounce back. It’s a big opportunity and think of ways about how to attract that traveler.”
Businesses Take Note: Pride is a Year ‘Round Thing
“As a chamber of commerce, we represent businesses and 365 days of the year. And that means we’re highlighting that this is a really sizable part of Canada’s economy. LGBTQ+ tourists want to travel 365 days of the year. Sure, they might want to go more in summer because of the weather. But, it’s a really sizable opportunity for businesses. If you’re looking at the cold hard business case for this, they spent seven times more than the average traveler. So if you’re a business, you know, anywhere in Canada, and you’re looking at your strategy planning for exiting COVID-19 well, that should really be one of your primary targets – that this is a really important and high spending category of traveler that I want to get into my businesses, get spending and purchasing our products. So, that moves us into the next question, which is going to be ‘How do I do that?’”
Include Diversity, Inclusion and Safety in your Business AND your Marketing
“From our research, we know that safety is one of the major considerations. And costs, along having access to culture, of course. But we do know that safety is actually the biggest standout point. Certainly, when I’m talking to my friends about where I want to travel or what influences my travel choices, I know that whenever I’m traveling, I want to feel safe. It’s my vacation, it’s my time, and I don’t want to have to be looking over my shoulder if I’m with my partner or whatever and feel uncomfortable. Businesses have to ask themselves, ‘What am I doing to show that I’m welcoming the LGBTQ+ population? And it’s not a case that you might be doing something negative or actively against the community, but you have to be actively supporting them. For example, it could be something as simple as the advertising photographs in your website, are you using diverse people? Are you using a couple that might be two men or two women? And then that even transcends and into other examples. Are the images that you’re using reflective of the diverse society that Canada is? And so, it’s a mix of smaller things and bigger things, which I think businesses need to be more aware of.”
“I think going the extra mile – not just supporting pride – but actively supporting the community 365 days of the year. Part of what we’re doing in the chamber of commerce is rolling out a tourism program throughout the next year. The whole mandate of this project is to ensure that businesses and tourism destination operators all across Canada are market ready and are able to accommodate and attract the LGBTQ+ traveler. In addition to diversity and inclusion training for businesses all across Canada, making sure they’re USING inclusive practices. We’re also engaging in destination audits. So we’re going to be going to various destinations across Canada and auditing them to see, first of all, how are they faring up against the benchmarks which we have devised, and, then following up with recommendations, and we’re also going to be engaging in a series of market ready seminars. And what we’re doing there is to again, work with local businesses all across Canada to see if they are market ready. What has to be considered in order to attract that traveler. It’s a year-round process, and we need to move past it just being a Pride focus. And again, purely from the business perspective, this is a sizable part of Canada’s economy, there’s a sizable spend here. So, it makes business sense to attract this traveler, and we are ready to travel!!”
Aren’t we all.
Aren’t. We. All. *sobs*
For more from Dale, as well as all our previous episodes, you can find us over on Apple Podcasts.