The group conceded that not all travel by the LGBT community could definitively be termed as “gay” travel. Is a business trip gay travel? How about a trip to attend a friend or family member’s wedding? What makes your trip today a gay trip?
What exactly is “Gay while traveling”? It’s when the traveler’s primary purpose is to buy a gay travel product: for example, a Pride hotel package or an LGBT event, such as Gay Days Orlando, or a group travel experience, like an Atlantis or Olivia cruise.
Bottom line: When making a travel purchase because you’re gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, that’s “Gay while traveling.”
In spending the last three months working in Atlantic City as the chief strategy officer for the Atlantic City Alliance, I’ve wondered, What makes a destination like A.C. a great travel getaway for the gay and lesbian traveler? Would the LGBT traveler make a trip here specifically because of the city’s LGBT offerings?
There is certainly a lot of LGBT in A.C. There is Pro Bar at Resorts, with stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean (www.resorts-ac.com). Pro Bar is the world’s first permanent LGBT bar in a casino. There are LGBT events, including the grand dame of events, “Miss’d America,” the annual drag competition that takes place on the very same runway in the same building as the famed mainsream pageant. Year-round there are entertainers with huge gay followings, including Madonna, Kathy Griffin and others.
However, according to surveys by Community Marketing Inc., the No. 1 gay and lesbian travel destination is Sin City — Las Vegas. Through a thoughtful and concentrated marketing effort, Las Vegas has become a LGBT travel destination. It didn’t start out that way.
Vegas is Vegas. It had gaming, dining, entertainment and pools. You might have gone to Vegas for a convention, a straight friend’s bachelor party or a quick getaway. You didn’t necessarily go to Vegas to be out. You went to Vegas because everyone else was going too.
In 2006, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and a few hotels, including the Paris Las Vegas, owned by Harrah’s, decided to court the gay and lesbian traveler with a series of clever ads. Several hotels, including Wynn and others, soon followed suit. To see a history of the Las Vegas ads, visit www.commercialcloset.org.
Today, Las Vegas has developed a series of events, special offers and activities tailored to the LGBT traveler. Since this column is about travel, here are two not-to-miss events in Vegas that, if you go, would definitely make you “Gay while traveling.”
This year, for the first time, the iconic Gay Days Orlando makes a Las Vegas debut, Sept. 4-10. The host hotel is the Tropicana Las Vegas. There will be pool parties, entertainment including the “Divas” show starring Frank Marino, an expo and more. For all the travel information, visit www.gaydays.com.
For the ladies, there is Shedonism® Las Vegas, Sept. 6-10, a long weekend of women’s events to coincide with Pride. As the organizer says, un-lady-like behavior is encouraged. The weekend includes appearances by the cast of “The Real L Word,” DJs, live performances, dance parties, pool parties and the Vegas Dyke March. The host hotel is Rumor, a boutique resort. For more information, visit shedonismvegas.com.
Jeff Guaracino is vice chair of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association and author of “Gay and Lesbian Tourism: The Essential Guide for Marketing.”