So said Mark Duguid, vice-president commercial and product for Kuoni, who is behind the new initiative, after the company’s first ever LGBT training day.
He admits that it was inspired by the TTG LGBT Conference, held in July, which was aimed at educating the trade on how to sell travel to the LGBT sector, and said he hoped Kuoni would be able to fill a gap in the market.
“There is a space here, which Kuoni can fill,” he said. Duguid said he believed Kuoni could fill the gap for same-sex couples who wanted something away from the stereotypical partying scene.
“The penny really dropped for me at the TTG LGBT Conference, when figures revealed that only 7% of the LGBT market wants the [partying] type holiday,” he added.
“It’s about expertise and asking the right questions – it’s not about producing and contracting a gay-specific offering.” The full-day course covered destination, product information and travel advice, as well as special occasion travel.
The company is now planning to create an LGBT section on its website, featuring the personal travel experts that were present on the training day. “It will be a stand alone section – I’m hoping we will rank highly on Google as there aren’t many others out there offering specific knowledge [on the LGBT holiday sector],” Duguid said.
“We want LGBT consumers to know that we understand there can be sensitivities involved and we get that it can be complicated, but we have expertise in destinations and we will have preferred suppliers with companies who also understand this.”
Tracy Martin, product training executive, who was also present on the day, said the 10 personal travel experts who attended, comprised both LGBT and straight people who were all able to share their own knowledge and experiences, and would continue to share insight and advice going forward. “It’s a real mix of people, but they all have a shared interest in the sector,” she said.
“It’s about understanding that sometimes issues may need to be handled sensitively, but also making sure that people are more confident about asking the right questions.”