its pitch to gay tourists
City becomes more
sophisticated targeting subgroups
Matt Rourke / AP
A street sign is seen in a gay-friendly section of
Philadelphia known as the "gayborhood". Philadelphia has
become more sophisticated in its effort to attract part of the
annual $55 billion gay tourism market.
By AP from
msnbc.msn.com from the Web, July 31, 2007
PHILADELPHIA, July 30 -- When
the city rolled out a national ad campaign aimed at gay tourists four years ago,
some of the commercials featured same-sex couples in Colonial costumes.
"Come to Philadelphia," the ads said. "Get your history straight and your
Since then, the city has become more sophisticated in its effort to attract part
of the annual $55 billion gay tourism market, targeting subgroups within the gay
and lesbian community.
"Destinations will need to further refine what they're offering the gay
traveler. No longer will it be enough to say, 'Hey, we're gay-friendly.
You should come here,'" said Jeff Guaracino of the Greater Philadelphia Tourism
Philadelphia has been focusing recent marketing efforts on lesbians, who are
less likely to have visited the city than gay men, according to Deborah Diamond,
director of research and strategy for the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing
The tourism agency partnered with R Family Vacations, a cruise company founded
by entertainer Rosie O'Donnell and her partner Kelli that caters to gay and
lesbian families. The city is also reaching out to gay athletes by meeting
with gay softball, bowling and soccer leagues to accommodate their competitions,
and it recently hosted the International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.
"Every community wants to be addressed specifically," said Thomas Roth,
president of San Francisco-based Community Marketing Inc., which specializes in
marketing to gays and lesbians. "I think the whole concept of the gay and
lesbian market is so '90s. Because, just like the mainstream, gays and
lesbians are looking for more personalization."
Philadelphia saw a $153 return for every dollar spent on its marketing campaign,
according to a 2005 gay tourism survey. But now more than 75 cities around
the world have gay tourism campaigns, as do travel companies like Orbitz,
Travelocity, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines.
With so much competition, it's important for cities to play to their strengths,
said Ben Finzel, co-founder of Out Front Blog. If they're marketing to
single gay men, for example, they should advertise opportunities for meeting
other gay singles. Older gay couples might be more interested in hotels,
dining options and historic sites.
"It's important for any destination to be genuine and honest. Destinations
shouldn't try to be all things to all people if they don't have all things to
offer all people," Finzel said.
John Wermuth, 43, who lives in Atlanta, visits Philadelphia about once a year.
On a recent trip, he went to Independence Hall, the Museum of Art and the
theater — the same attractions that draw mainstream tourists.
When he visits, he stays at the Alexander Inn, a gay-owned hotel in the heart of
the "gayborhood," an area of gay-friendly stores and restaurants.
Innkeeper John Cochie, who founded the Philadelphia Gay Tourism Caucus, said he
has seen business grow since the city began its national campaign in 2003.
"It's kind of funny," Cochie said, "because we banter a little bit that we're a