Marketing the Rainbow

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One of the cities that has done more than most in the area of gay tourism marketing has been London. At the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association IGLTA annual convention in Las Vegas in 2008, London picked up two awards: one for 'Best Brochure/Collateral' and another for 'Best Advertisement'.

In 2009 London opened an ‘official’ Gay Tourist Office. It was a private initiative from Ku Bar, not done in collaboration with official organizations like VisitLondon.

When asked “Do we really need a gay tourist office in 2009?” the center’s boss Shaun Newport answered: “We do. We will provide a safe and friendly environment for the visitors from around the world to chill out, pick up information, find guidance and take advantage of LGBT services. London has the most LGBT visitors in Europe and we want to ensure people have the best time possible. Regular tourists office do not offer the specialist knowledge we do. People from the LGBT community want to be safe and comfortable and go to places where they feel most amongst friends. This is currently a privilege the heterosexual community often take for granted.”

The Office’s website was last updated in 2010: it has probably ceased to exist around that time.

Pink Banana reported in 2009: everyone is familiar with the VisitBritain and Visit London advertising campaigns, consistently running for the past several years in a way that continually reminds us of the UK as a top GLBT travel destination. It seems that everywhere we would turn we would run into some marketing effort of this campaign, ranging from a billboard on Santa Monica Boulevard to a large booth at Chicago’s North Halstead Market Days (with hot, kilt-wearing men recruiting passers-by to come on over), with all points online and in print covered in between.

So how did they do it? It all started by identifying the opportunities. They were able to segment the GLBT market into three distinct groups, with special marketing techniques all of their own, as follows:

1. Remind Potential New Visitors Why London and Britain Are So Unique

2. Remind Past/frequent Visitors What Is New about London and Britain

3. Remind LGBT market why London/Britain should be the #1 choice for LGBT-friendly travel.

Upon identifying these three market segments, they included known research they had on the US market, which told them that this audience wanted to be shown a local’s perspective, but from a credible, authentic, and unique experience.

Their own unique GLBT marketing plan included:

* Niche within Niche Messaging

* LGBT Green

* Active LGBT

* Clubber

* LGBT Couple

* Social Networking

* MySpace

* Facebook groups and pages

* Facebook targeted advertising

* Community Involvement

* Street Fairs

* GLAAD Media Awards

* PFLAG National Conference

* Public Relations

* Press Trips

* Support Marketing Efforts

The results were:

* Campaign ran on over 15 LGBT websites

* Campaign Splash Pages

* Major Publications including Advocate and Instinct Magazine

* Local Papers in NYC, Chicago, LA, SFO and Boston

* 6 Major Events

* MySpace and Facebook group and pages

* Major articles in main LGBT publications

* 5 million eyeballs

* 40,000 splash page visits

* 15,000 names /emails captured

So what’s next for this “ahead of the curve” marketing campaign for GCI Consultants and his British clients?

For one thing, more dynamic and interactice local perspectives, recruiting real people in various walks of life to give a more personal and first-hand experience for traveling to Britain and London. Expanding that same message into other parts of the UK, and opening up the frontier in Germany, a huge travel market with growth potential for London.

In 2010 Visit London also launched a free Gay London app for iPhone.

Strangely enough, the microsite (in 7 languages) had disappeared by 2013, and when searching for “gay” the website only mentions Brighton and the London Pride (with no returns for lesbian or LGBT). Only if you go via Google you can find


See also what London has done with its public transport system for Pride.

Case study: London

Branche: Travel