Hotel chain Marriott International is courting gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans travelers with a new ad campaign featuring out NBA star Jason Collins, trans model Geena Rocero and other LGBTI individuals.
Using the hashtag #LoveTravels, Marriott’s campaign features print ads and social media Collins called ‘important not only to the LGBT community but to society in general’.
The hotel company has recruited celebrity photographer Braden Summers to shoot the campaign. Summers made global headlines last year with his photo campaign to shoot romantic gay and lesbian couples around the world.
‘When I travel with a boyfriend, we really want to feel that sense of inclusiveness regardless of our sexual orientation or religion. We want that feeling of being welcome,’ the basketball star added in a statement. In recent years, hotel policies have become a hot bed of controversy with regards LGBTI rights.
As same-sex marriage becomes legal in more states and countries, marriage equality has been used as a barometer for what travel destinations are not only safe, but desirable for LGBTI travelers.
Some travel operators are changing their marketing approach in order to court the LGBTI traveler, while other businesses suffer because of anti-gay connections.
Last month international celebrities boycotted Dorchester Group’s hotels because the owner, Sultan of Brunei, implemented anti-gay laws, signaling LGBTI consumers are more readily holding businesses accountable for their ethics.
While many businesses place LGBTI-friendly policies under the umbrella of diversity and inclusion, being gay-friendly does come with some economic benefit.
According to Out Now Global, an LGBT marketing specialist group, the potential value of the LGBT travel market was set to reach $181 billion last year.
'Our goal is really to educate and engage and shift perception of our portfolio brand,' said Kristine Friend, senior director of segment marketing for Marriott International.
'We've decided to kick off a holistic campaign that really helps celebrate inclusiveness and beautifully illustrates our desire to make people feel at home at our hotels.'
Marriot hotel group in the UK has partnered with Gay Star News and Jean Paul Gaultier for this summer’s Pride Bags: Custom-designed goodie bags given away for free at London, Brighton and Manchester.