Why Is This A Good Thing?

Just had a note sent to me asking me why it is that I think it is a good thing for Southwest to make more of a public effort at courting the gay traveler. I have to assume that either he is questioning the decision based on personal issues, or he is not aware of just how valuable the gay travel market segment is.

Ah, but the answer is an easy one. The gay travel market is one of the highest disposable income travel markets. As a demographic group gay men and women tend to travel more often (what Southwest is interested in) and when they do travel, they tend to spend more money than most other demographic groups (what hotels and restaurants are interested in.)


Or to put it another way, this is not the “Winnebago and hot dog” crowd we used to see roll into New Orleans for certain Sugar Bowl contests. (I’m going to be nice and not mention any football affiliations directly.) You know — the type who come into town and raid the A&P for toilet paper, Miller Lite,  and luncheon meat. Or hot dogs. Then, when they finally do “eat out,” they don’t leave a tip.

Bad. Bad tourists.

5 thoughts on “Why Is This A Good Thing?

  1. Avid Flyer

    I’d agree with your assessment of the gay traveler demographic. I’d just add that there is a reason that the demographic tends to spend more than the family in the Winnebago. It’s not because they are gay, it’s because relative to heterosexual couples, they rarely have any kids. Those kids soak up a lot of disposable income, but then again they are our future.

  2. Holly Hegeman

    Avid Flyer, that’s right. Same reason the 20-something crowd is generally targeted heavily by high-tech and fashion advertisers. They rarely have a mortgage, often don’t have kids, and they tend to spend more money on gadgets, flat screens, or glittery handbags, depending on their preference. Or maybe, in some cases — all three!
    (We won’t talk about those overhanging student loans though….)

  3. Holly Hegeman

    Eric, even though I did think of you when I found that Winnebago graphic, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a “ROLL TIDE” banner draped across your fifth wheel as it was rolling down the road.

  4. Aaron Ray

    There’s a lots and lots of cash floating around in the “gay travel” industry. Travelocity has offered a Gay & Lesbian link on their homepage for quite some time, offering package deals on popular tourist spots for gay travelers and a specialized hotel search for supposedly gay-friendly hotels.
    As a gay man myself, though, I think that Southwest has a tough road to climb. In my discussions with friends and colleagues in the gay community, there’s always been a pretty strong stereotype that Southwest was the “Greyhound of the skies”. Even after reminding folks that nowadays especially, the in-flight experience you’d get on Southwest would be the same if not often better than on the legacies, people generally remain unconvinced.
    American, however, seems to have built pretty strong loyalties in the community. Last fall, a group of friends and I took a New York trip. We ended up splitting up to travel… I wanted my SkyMiles, so I stuck to CO/NW/DL, but others wouldn’t budge from their AA loyalty, and (at least they said) it wasn’t about the AAdvantage miles…
    By the way: the Winnebago? Needs Priscilla (Queen of the Desert) on the top if we’re going to talk about gay travel… (if you’ve seen the movie, that is) 🙂

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