Building Authentic Inclusivity in Hotel Social Media Programs
It’s Pride Month and around the world, the celebrations are in full gear. Cities like Paris, Chicago, San Francisco, Toronto, Rio and Cologne expect an influx of locals and travelers throughout the month. Parade-goers, party-throwers, and luxury hotel properties will be sharing LGBTQ+ content on social media in higher volume, which is great. But inclusivity is so much more than a box to check on its corresponding month. BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and more are focused on all ages, ALL year, on ALL platforms! As you’ll see in this article, there are some good reasons why inclusion, diversity, and consideration for the unique travel needs of these communities require a year-round program.
Consumers want to spend their money in places that align with their own values. The LGBTQ+ community had a global spending power of 3+ trillion dollars in 2019 in the US alone. In 2021 this community spent 1+ trillion. Market to these travel-loving minority groups in authentic ways, and be part of a massive potential that extends beyond a one-month fete. A property that creates a presence that is authentically inclusive has a chance to weave together a blend of acceptance, location, and amenities that will work for all guests.
How the Hospitality Industry Can Take Action
Develop a year-round social calendar. Marketing and advertising strategies should always include LGBTQ+ initiatives year-round. This includes holidays and non-holidays. Of course that makes business sense as you want to always have a targeted effort to reach people and book rooms. However, more than ever, users from these communities do a little research on companies they engage with and buy from. If that company appears to be rainbow-washing by publishing LGBTQ+ content only during Pride Month, that will be a red flag. Properties that win loyal followers and guests show inclusion in campaigns throughout the year. And yes, that includes non-LGBTQ+ holidays that involve travel.
Be Genuinely Proud of Your Team. You no doubt have team members participating in Pride or other charities and events. Showcase the people on your team as well as any partnerships the property has with the community. Highlight where you are succeeding in DEI.
- Do you have queer people in leadership roles?
- What’s your diversity breakdown in upper-level positions?
- Do you cover body-affirming healthcare for your employees?
- Are you working with businesses that actively donate to anti-LGBTQ+ campaigns?
- Share moments of support from your team.
- Are you hiring LGBTQ+ employees?
- Have you donated to an LGBTQ+ cause?
- Have you sponsored a workshop — or participated in one?
Highlight it! Share the stories! It is a great chance to connect with the community and let them see that your property takes a leadership role in active change.
How to promote a welcoming, inclusive atmosphere for LGBTQ guests:
- Train your staff to be sensitive and welcoming to all guests.
- Create collateral that is inclusive.
- Consider events the hotels could host during Pride Month.
- Consider events that give back to the community. Nothing like a party with a purpose.
One thing to remember: It’s never a good idea to use your people as tokens. Today’s consumers are savvier and care about how your treat guests AND employees, and this doesn’t just apply to LGBTQ+ groups.
Pitfalls to Avoid
First, steer clear of using slang or catchphrases you normally don’t use to try and speak this audience’s ‘language.’ Be authentic and consistent in your messaging–just like you’d talk to any guest.
Also consider that formal titles like Mr/Mrs might put you in the situation of assuming someone’s gender. Whether in person or online, that puts the recipient in an awkward position of correcting if needed.
Finally, monitor your social accounts and have systems in place to block offensive language or imagery. Any ads, videos, or photos posted by the property must ensure that full diversity is being pictured. And while you’re monitoring, listen to the feedback. Is the content resonating? Is there any negative feedback? Positive feedback? Using tools for sentiment analysis helps you understand your audience and determine how well you are connecting. Best practices recommend that you make a plan to take the feedback and add it to your next marketing plan. Better yet, when you practice active social monitoring you have a chance to spring into action immediately, which can be important, especially during Pride Month.
- Push authentic relationships
- Highlight black trans individuals
- Remember that cookie-cutter content does not speak to this audience
- Depict full diversity, not just a generic poster person
- Avoid the stock photography from the Pride Month photo libraries
- Use UGC and influencers from the LGBTQ+ community
A return on a relationship goes much farther than a good month of ROI. Build a relationship with people in the LGBTQ+ community and you will attract bookings from another amazing target market, one that prioritizes travel, adventure, and authentic experiences. Just like your property does.