It’s no secret that successful destinations, hotels, restaurants and others market extensively to LGBT travelers, a group that frequently travels for leisure. In 2014, LBGT tourism globally was valued at $202 billion. On Thursday, Jan. 21, Aspen Gay Ski Week and The Little Nell partnered in presenting a #LuxTravel Symposium, discussing LBGT Travel Trends for 2016 and beyond.
The invitation-only event for Gay Ski Week patron pass holders and media was held in the Gallery at element 47. Gay Ski Week Public Relations chair Jim Guttau, Director of Public Relations for Four Seasons Denver and Santa Fe, served as moderator, with top luxury travel writers and industry executives who formed the panel:
1) Eric Rosen – Freelance Writer for outlets including LA Times, JustLuxe, Frontiers and LA Confidential
2) Tom Alderink – Director of LGBT sales for Belmond, a global collection of 46 iconic hotels, trains and river cruises.
3) Joost Brantjes – Travel Writer for Winq Magazine (Netherlands + UK), the largest gay magazine in the world.
4) Rick Stiffler – Vice President, Leisure Sales for Preferred Hotel Group and involved with the expansion of Preferred Pride, a collection of independently owned and operated hotels that understand and cater to the specific needs of the LGBT traveler.
5) Patrick Janelle – Entrepreneur and Social Media Influencer (Instagram @aguynamedpatrick)
Guests arrived in apres-ski wear to mix, mingle and enjoy the buffet of hot toddies, The Little Nell’s famous hot cocoa and sweets before taking their seats.Jim posed a series of questions to each panel member related to LBGT travel trends, several of which are listed below with answers attributed accordingly:
Q: What are your favorite cities to visit in the world? Favorite hotels?
A favorite city – Mykonos in the Greek Isles for its beauty and sense of comfort community.
A favorite hotel – Palazzo Avino in Italy – the stunning five-star deluxe hotel on the famed Amalfi Coast.
A favorite city – San Miguel de Allende in Mexico – perfect for downtime.
A favorite hotel – Casa Sierra Nevada – Belmond’s hotel in the heart of San Miguel.
Q: What are the key things today’s LGBT luxury traveler is looking for in a hotel or destination?
Guests want to feel welcome and find the right amenities – two large robes and two large sets of slippers for male companions. Concierges who are familiar with gay friendly bars and restaurants. Hotels
where other guests aren’t uncomfortable seeing two men on holiday together.
Being someone on social media who plugs in devices to get online, everywhere I go I want to have easy access to outlets – not having to search behind furniture to find them.
Q: What do you think are the trends in LGBT luxury travel for 2016?
Experiential travel is in – whether for LGBT or straight travelers – one of my favorite experiences this year was swimming with sharks in Australia – those types of adventures stay with you.
Following the panel discussion, Jim opened up the floor to the audience for questions, which sparked a dialogue about feeling welcome, safe and having one’s needs anticipated as what’s expected in targetnig the LBGT sector of top spenders and key influencers. In conclusion, all agreed this initial symposium laid the groundwork for further discussion.
The Little Nell is a proud sponsor of Aspen Gay Ski Week 2016 – presenting the #LuxTravel Symposium, Downhill Costume Contest on Little Nell run and the Upper Gondola Plaza, the Sinners and Saints party at The Sundeck, contributing a silent auction package for the Caribou Club dinner, offering a special Gay Ski Week rate on accommodations and hosting media during the event.