Thomas Cook Airlines has learnt through “messing up” how best to show support for LGBT communities.
Marketing director Andrew Sanderson described to delegates at the TTG LGBT Conference how the airline first came to sponsor Manchester Pride three years ago, “Our cabin crew were marching in Pride anyhow, so we thought we had to back them,” he explained. “And now we sell so much seat-only from Manchester, our customer demographic has changed. We asked, who is flying with us now?”
But despite spending thousands of pounds on a float, cabin crew said it felt too much like a marketing exercise and not enough about the people. “It was painful to get such feedback,” he admitted, “but it shifted my mindset.
“The next year we sponsored the main stage [at Manchester Pride] and we had people there throughout the whole weekend, not just the parade.”
Thomas Cook Airlines also made in-flight announcements on all inbound flights to Manchester during Pride weekend to raise money for charity.
“A few people said ‘but you fly mostly families’ and we said, ‘So what?’ It absolutely does not matter. This is something we care about so let’s get behind it.”
Hoseasons’ marketing director Anthony Reilly described the reasons for his own commitment to driving diversity within the company and its marketing activity.
“Educating our current and future customers is the only way we will eradicate homophobia,” he said.
“As a marketer, diversity and inclusion makes business sense. I also have a responsibility as a leader; one of the most precious things we have is our [inclusive company] culture,” he added.