Panda Travel targets gays and lesbians
STORY SUMMARY »
Panda Travel, one of Hawaii's largest and oldest travel agencies, is trying to capture greater market share in the gay and lesbian community by with the launch of HawaiiGayTravel.com
While there are many gay and lesbian travel Web sites that focus on Hawaii, most are currently run by private bloggers or smaller travel companies. Panda Travel's increased interest in this market demonstrates its growing influence both in Hawaii and elsewhere.
Last year, market research estimated buying power for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender adult population at $660 million, greater than that of the Asian and Native American communities and coming within range of the African-American and Hispanic markets.
With as many as 16 to 20 million adults in the U.S. who identify themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, it's likely more Hawaii visitor companies will follow Panda Travel's lead.
FULL STORY »
Growing gay and lesbian buying power is beginning to get the attention of Hawaii's mainstream visitor industry.
Panda Travel, one of Hawaii's oldest and largest travel agencies, has launched HawaiiGayTravel.com, a Hawaii travel- booking site targeted to the gay and lesbian community. The site, which went online in December, offers gay and lesbian friendly hotel and activity packages. Customers also have access to an extensive Hawaii travel blog where they can learn about insider tips.
"We've been selling travel for over 30 years, and during that time we've been selling travel to the gay and lesbian community," said Michael Person, director of online marketing for Panda Travel Inc. "We've had Web pages with basic content for this community, but now we are taking our marketing a step further."
As gay and lesbian buying power and interest in travel increases, it only makes good business sense to cater to this market, Person said, adding that Panda Travel has always been a gay- and lesbian-friendly company.
"The statistics are out there that show that the gay and lesbian community are frequent travelers and that Hawaii one of their favorite destinations," Person said.
While gay and lesbian travel Web sites for Hawaii are numerous, most are run by private bloggers or smaller travel companies, said Denis Fuster, a Big Island Realtor who specializes in selling to the gay market.
"The fact that a travel company the size of Panda Travel is appealing to gay and lesbian travelers shows the growing importance of this market," said Fuster, who has seen interest from the gay and lesbian market create a mini real estate boom in Puna .
Last year, gay buying power surpassed that of the Asian and Native American communities and was within range of the African-American and Hispanic markets, according to Witeck-Combs Communications and Packaged Facts, a division of MarketResearch.com.
The company projected the total buying power of the U.S. gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender adult population at $660 billion in 2007. It also estimated that are 16 to 20 million adults in the U.S. who identify themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.
"In today's competitive marketplace, it is no longer prudent for a leading corporation to ignore the buying power of the gay market," Wesley Combs, president of Witeck-Combs, said in an earlier interview. "Marketers that do (so) risk leaving market share on the table for others to capture."
As the significance of the gay and lesbian community has become visible, Hawaii's visitor industry has begun tracking the market. In 2003, the state even added a question on its visitor satisfaction survey to capture the dislikes and dislikes of visitors with same-sex partners.
"That particular market segment is growing nationally, internationally and in Hawaii," said State Tourism Liaison Marsha Wienert. "It's a very welcoming society here."
While Wienert is not aware of any other major travel companies in Hawaii that have launched Web sites catering to the gay and lesbian traveler, she thinks more of them will.
"The Web makes it possible to really hone in on specific travel markets," Wienert said. "I think this is part of a growing trend for businesses to market to specific travel segments."