How has technology influenced the rise of LGBT tourism?

 

 

What is LGBT tourism all about?

LGBT tourism is the process of tourism product and service development and marketing that caters the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people. This specific segment of tourism provides opportunities to select destinations, accommodations, transport, events and so on, which are LGBTQ+ friendly. These create options for LGBT tourists to travel while feeling welcomed and respected. As the modern world moves towards a more inclusive and open-minded attitude, this area of tourism keeps growing with potential and is one of the fastest-growing tourism segments. For more information see https://www.iglta.org.

Technology and its impact on LGBT tourism

Technology has had a significant effect on awareness and attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people and issues relating to them. UNWTO: Global Report on LGBT Tourism (2012) shows that countries with progressive policies towards LGBT individuals gain more economic benefits from tourism. It also shows that there are improved social benefits resulted from LGBT friendly brand image. This image is formed by inclusiveness, tolerance and diversity.

Using Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) enables tourism businesses to gain competitive advantages in promotion and marketing, in addition to reinforcing the operations and strategies in the industry. Development of ICTs has enabled tourists in the LGBT segment to actively participate in the creation and sharing of their tourist experiences. This is done by activating conversations in social media with friends, family and others. Development of ICTs has created an opportunity for people to connect despite geographical and physical boundaries. This has decreased the effect of isolation commonly associated with the LGBTQ+ community.

Social media has had an essential role in strengthening the formerly silenced and sidelined voices. Various online, brand and marketing campaigns such as “It gets better” and Spotify: Pride stories, have carried out hope for a better future for the representatives of LGBTQ+ community. However, while the positive awareness and acceptance get better, the negative backlash is fueled. Specially targeted hate campaigns towards the LGBTQ+ community showcase the popularity of homophobic and transphobic convictions people still hold.

LGBT tourist behaviour

As a tourist segment, LGBT tourists have fairly high spending power and more opportunities to travel off-season. Tourists in the LGBT segment utilise all available ways of communication, with a high focus on channels and online platforms developed for this community in particular. These channels and platforms include such as online forums, specified websites, apps and various social networks.

As tourists, LGBT people like any other tourists connect to and use technology, digital and online tools before, during and after travel. Before travel, they utilise the internet to search for LGBT friendly places to visit and while travelling engages with the rest of the community through posts and pictures in social media. After travel, they evaluate the services and use e-WOM to share their experiences. Some applications are specifically catering for this tourism segment, like Misterbnb. This is similar to Airbnb but the accommodation hosts are LGBTQ+ friendly. Another great mobile app is Wimbify. It combines Couchsurfing and Airbnb with a way of meeting other people in this community.

What are the ways to grow as a destination for LGBT tourism?

The question arises; how the tourism industry can gain an advantage of the positive impacts of technology to grow LGBT tourism and is there a way to minimize the negative impacts? Destinations should jump on the bandwagon of creating awareness on inclusiveness and tolerance towards this community. If not existing already, they should develop tourism products and services that are authentically LGBT friendly. Additionally, creating specified marketing campaigns plays a huge role in attracting these tourists and getting the destination on the map as an LGBT friendly tourism destination. This can be achieved through smaller actions as well. It is as simple as using a small rainbow on websites or advertisements. Website design should include inclusive visuals to welcome this segment of tourists. Destinations can add a section for options focusing on LGBT tourists, such as LGBT events calendar in the destination.

It all comes to education and understanding, ensuring that all staff members understand, respect and value all customers equally. Taking the time to research how other LGBT friendly destinations are performing and learning from them is worthwhile. Because there is various online platforms and channels specifically for the LGBT community, tourism product providers should utilise them to engage with tourists. Additionally, they can be used to co-create tourist experiences by involving LGBT customers in every step. Including aspects for LGBT tourists in the company strategy and values, regardless of which tourism segment the business caters creates the potential to emerge in this tourism market.

Overall, the key is to utilize the endless opportunities technology and digitalization has provided in more open-minded, inclusive and tolerant fashion.

 

References:
  1. British LGBT Awards (2019). Winners 2019 – British LGBT Awards. [online] Britishlgbtawards.com. Available at: https://www.britishlgbtawards.com/winners-2019/ [Accessed 25 Oct. 2019].
  2. Last, M. (2019). How technology has changed the LGBT+ experience. [Blog] Available at: https://technation.io/news/how_technology_has_changed_lgbt/ [Accessed 25 Oct. 2019].
  3. Liberato, P., Liberato, D., Abreu, A., Alén, E. and Rocha, Á. (2018). LGBT Tourism: The Competitiveness of the Tourism Destinations Based on Digital Technology. Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing, pp.264-276.
  4. UNWTO (2012).Global Report on LGBT Tourism. AM Reports: Volume three. [online] Madrid: UNWTO and IGLTA. Available at: https://www.e-unwto.org/doi/pdf/10.18111/9789284414581 [Accessed 25 Oct. 2019].
  5. IGLTA (2019).The International LGBTQ+ Travel Association > Home. [online] Iglta.org. Available at: https://www.iglta.org [Accessed 25 Oct. 2019].

TMM developing tourism business at Etelä-Konnevesi region

Our International Master’s Degree Programme in Tourism Marketing and Management (TMM) has started a collaboration with municipalities of Konnevesi and Rautalampi and tourism stakeholders in the region. The concrete first step in this collaboration was a two-day workshop on developing nature tourism in the Etelä-Konnevesi region, organized in Konnevesi research station 14.-15.3.2018. Together with Anne Hyvärinen, project manager at a regional tourism development project, two days full of tourism business content were designed and tailored for the region.

Tourism insights and knowledge

The idea of the first day was to bring in all the actors to the same level when it comes to tourism marketing and management in a nature tourism destination. The day started with introductions and three short group work presentations by our students. As a preliminary assignment, our students had examined how the region is represented on the Internet from the perspective of potential tourists, both domestic and international. They also gave a quick overview of the recent development of the region in combination with development possibilities.

Making tourism better
Nature tourism workshop at Etelä-Konnevesi region

From the student presentations, it became obvious that the region has a vast tourism potential, but the problem is that very few know about this hidden gem. Most tourists that come to the region just visit the Southern-Konnevesi National Park, even though the region is full of interesting, high-quality and distinctive tourism businesses. Thus we were able to pinpoint the tourism development problem to marketing and sales, as well as networking between the actors in the region.

Besides our students, there was a wide range of presentations from local entrepreneurs and tourism personnel, Jyväskylä UAS and Visit Jyväskylä, and Johku. The tourism in the region and development possibilities were discussed from many different viewpoints, providing a great overview of the topic.

Networking and collaboration

At the end of the first day, we had the chance to visit a local rural tourism business Suopirtti Highland and meet their “hairy cows” (ie. highland cattle). It was indeed an experience for all of us. Afterward, we had a chance to taste delicious locally produced dishes at restaurant Mierontie. The restaurant also had a unique, wooden interior design made by local Jukola Industries. At the end of the second day, we had the chance to visit the National Park and experience KalajaRetkeily hospitality from Markku Utriainen. These visits only reinforced our view that there are many great and original tourism products and services in the region, but very few have ever heard of them.

Tourism services at Etelä-Konnevesi
Local tourism services

Professor Raija Komppula emphasized at the workshop how important collaboration and networking are for tourism businesses. Not that much can be achieved by doing things alone. Tourists seldom choose a destination based on one tourism business. Tourists are looking for an amalgam of experience that they can enjoy during their trip and only by working together a region can provide tourists what they want.

Tourism business development

Our students are now working with individual tourism businesses as their second assignment. Each student was assigned with a tourism business with their own development possibilities. The businesses gave our students practice-oriented tasks connected to topics such as marketing mix development, service packaging, experience design, technology adoption and new-service development. Our students will provide each involved business a short report that guides the businesses to take the next steps.

Students in a nature trail
TMM students and staff at the Etelä-Konnevesi National Park

Collaboration with TMM

We have built our programme so that this kind of destination and business collaborations are possible. Our students performed really well during the workshop and have clearly learned a lot during this past year they have been studying with us. We will continue our collaboration with Etelä-Konnevesi region and are also open to new possibilities to make tourism better. If you are interested in collaboration, please contact me at juho.pesonen[at]uef.fi.

Using Pixel Hotel idea for entrepreneurship

Can we own a hotel or start hotel business with our limited money? You may think that the answer is no. But, I would say Yes, and you will probably agree with me if you take a closer look at pixel hotel business idea in Austria.

Pixel hotel is a new form of hotel business which I recently learned while studying tourism destination marketing course. I got so interest to this idea that, I wanted to learn more about this and share my thoughts.

Whenever we think about a hotel, what usually comes to our mind? A nice tall building with lot of rooms in different floors with many other facilities. But, Pixel hotel is just the opposite. “The city is the hotel” which is the slogan of pixel hotel and it works like that. This new idea of hospitality industry came into existence in 2006. The idea originated from a concept made by a group of young architects and designers in Linz, Austria.

Pixel hotel is a cultural enterprise in Linz, with the aim of giving guests a direct experience of unusual accommodation with certain particularities. Another aim of this association is to utilize unused properties in urban and rural areas in profitable way. This also gives an opportunity to their guests to stay close to their travel destination. Hence, tourists get more time to travel. Targeted tourists are those people, who love watching things a bit slower and bit closer. As an accommodation project, it has become an international recognized brand which was cited as an example of innovative tourism in 2009. Rooms of pixel hotel are scattered in whole city which can be an old building, workshop or basically anything which can be used as accommodation.

Picture of the first prototype Pixel Hotel which was in an empty garage.

Similarly, for pixel guests, there is not any certain restaurant to offer lunch and dinner. Rather guests are invited to discover the local food and culture and to know the story of that place.

In my opinion, this is a very nice business idea to learn from. This idea can be utilized to start hotel business with very little money and with minimum preparation. Another competitor in the market is Airbnb, but people who rent apartment there usually own only one apartment and that is not their main source of income. On the other hand, an establish hotel is always more reliable to the guests and more profitable.

How Pixel hotel idea can be utilized in Finland

Finland is a big country with very little population. Most of the tourists’ services like hotels and transportation facilities are available mainly in big cities and in the center areas. So, when tourists visit Finland, they tend to stay in those places which are close to their hotel and where public transport are available. Because of this, attractions in small towns and places remain unknown and undiscovered by most of the tourists. But, we can utilize pixel hotel idea here to arrange accommodation and other facilities for the tourists in all over the country, then it may appear as an attractive tourists’ service for those who will plan to visit Finland in future.

Idea: A simple house can be used as a hotel

Moreover, there are many empty houses and apartments in every cities and towns which are ready to use or with little arrangements can be made ready to rent to make money. People can use this idea to start their own business with a limited money and minimum risk.

Source: http://www.pixelhotel.at/index.php?id=1&L=0

The world’s greatest traveller

What if Santa Claus would travel by plane?

Who is the world’s greatest traveller? As the holiday season is about to start we gather to celebrate Christmas all around the globe. Santa Claus has become one of the main characters of Christmas, bringing joy and wonder to kids and grown ups everywhere. However, we rarely realize that Santa Claus is actually the world’s greatest traveller. I doubt there is a single person on this planet who would travel more during a year, albeit Santa does almost all his travelling in 36 hours.

A few years ago The Telegraph did some calculations about this magical day when Santa flies around the globe. According to the calculations Santa travels around half a billion kilometers. That is almost 13 000 times around the globe or 32 500 times from Helsinki to Tokyo (8000km) and back. Finnair is the official airline of Santa Claus as Santa lives in Rovaniemi, Finland. If Santa would use Finnair to deliver his gifts, he would get, based on Helsinki-Tokyo calculations in Basic class, he would get around 260 million Finnair points. For 3000 points and 74,52€ you could get a 100€ tax-free award voucher. By this calculation single points is worth 0,95 cents. Surprisingly, Santas points would be worth only little more than 2 million euros. So you won’t get rich with these points, not even if you are the world’s greatest traveller.

We can also look at the environmental impacts of Santa travelling Finnair. Using carbon calculator and Helsinki-Tokyo calculations Santa would create almost 70 000 tonnes of CO2. Average Finnish household produces 10 tonnes per year, so Santa flying with Finnair would correspond to 7000 households.

We do hope that Santa Claus has figured our an environmentally friendly way to travel the world but until he gives away his secrets we have to stick with more traditional transportation methods for our Christmas travelling. We wish you all happy holidays and look forward seeing as many of you as possible next year in Joensuu!