The Out Traveler Readers Choice Awards
Out Traveler has just released the results of its annual Readers Choice Awards addressing topics such as Favorite Domestic Destination, Favorite International Airline, Favorite Gay Resort Town and Favorite Hotel Collection. [In the interest of full disclosure: I am an Out Traveler subscriber and I voted in these awards on their Web site.]
I've written pretty frequently about efforts by leaders in the travel and tourism industry to reach gay and lesbian travelers and I've offered advice about that outreach as well. I was surprised by some of the results of the Out Traveler survey, both because they prove my point about the positive impact of consistent outreach to gay and lesbian travelers and because they provide the exception that proves the rule.
I was also struck by several trends in the list of winners that seem to indicate emerging trends in gay and lesbian travel outreach, such as:
Several categories included winners that have long been engaged in gay and lesbian outreach and marketing, proving once again that our community is loyal to those who are consistently loyal to us. For example, American Airlines was picked first as favorite domestic airline; W Hotels and Kimpton Hotels placed first and third respectively as favorite hotel collection; and Ft. Lauderdale, Provincetown and Key West were selected as favorite gay resort towns.
Cool/Hip/Trendy = Gay
Several categories included destinations or service providers that while not necessarily noted for gay outreach are widely recognized as icons of style arbiters of cool, demonstrating the impact of perception on savvy gay and lesbian travelers. For example, Barcelona secured second place in the list of favorite international destinations; JetBlue earned second place for favorite domestic airline; and Virgin Atlantic landed in second place as favorite international airline.
You Can Build A Reputation
A few of the categories included winners that have made more recent efforts to reach gay and lesbian travelers and which are now seeing the results of that effort in growing recognition among gay and lesbian travelers. For example, Delta Airlines placed third as favorite domestic airline; Chicago placed third as favorite domestic destination; and Lufthansa placed third as favorite international airline (although after my most recent experience with them on a United code share flight, I wouldn't pick them for favorite anything).
And as for those exceptions that prove the rule, how about Four Seasons winning second place as favorite hotel collection? Despite my love for all things Four Seasons, they have made no concerted efforts that I have seen to reach out to our community. In this case, I think quality and luxury won out, despite their lack of gay and lesbian community engagement.
So what do you think? Check out the complete list of winners here and let us hear from you. Did you notice any other trends in the results? Were there any surprises for you in the results – either good or bad? How about any noticeable omissions you want to mention?