Live from Connect Thrive Summit ft. Ed Salvato

Live from Connect Thrive Summit ft. Ed Salvato

Listen to this episode of The DJ Doran Show and all previous episodes on the player above or check it out onApple Podcasts,Spotify,Stitcher, or iHeart Radio

We have a special treat for everyone this week! This show was recorded live at the Connect Thrive Summit. DJ was joined by guest, friend, & fellow traveler – Ed Salvato. The dynamic duo discuss everything LGBTQ Travel. The conversation covers travel during the pandemic, content marketing, business strategy, and trends in LGBTQ travel. The conversation is packed full of wisdom & insight from some of the industry’s leading minds. 

Stay tuned for more updates from the DJ Doran show throughout the next couple of weeks. 

Guest, Ed Salvato

Ed Salvato (pronouns he/him) offers LGBTQ marketing consulting to major travel, tourism & hospitality brands around the globe. Ed also runs the LGBTQ Travel Pavilion at the NY Times Travel Show and is the emcee at ITB’s Pink Pavilion. He’s co-author of the Handbook of LGBT Tourism & Hospitality Marketing: A Guide for Business Practice by Columbia University Press. Previously, Ed was editor in chief of OUT & ABOUT, Out Traveler and ManAboutWorld gay travel magazines. Ed is an adjunct instructor in marketing at NYU’s Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality currently teaching a class in customer relationship management.

Connect Thrive Summit

Connect THRIVE Summit is focused on community development through LGBTQ travel, sports, and entertainment. This one-of-a-kind marketing summit features dynamic general sessions and networking events alongside a series of pre-scheduled, one-on-one connections between destinations, resorts, hotels, attractions, domestic and international tour operators and travel agents, sports rights holders, media, marketers and brands.

I’m really excited to kick off the afternoon session of Connect thrive summit 2020 with a woo a, another podcast we’re gonna be filming the DJ Doran show. So over to you, DJ.

DJ Doran  00:47

Welcome to another edition of the DJ Doran show. And I am so happy to have one of my very good friends. As my guest on this show. We’re going to talk about LGBT travel and the business of LGBT travel. Ed salvato. So ed is a recognized leader in LGBTQ travel and award winning travel writer and a public speaker, and you had a book that was published in 2017, about LGBT travel. So Ed, let’s get right into it. Let’s talk about LGBT travel. Right, you gave a talk earlier, today, you’re talking about how a cvbs and dmos can be at the front of the line post COVID. And what they can do to be ready for that spring. to spring, spring, how strong


the coil to coil

DJ Doran  01:36

coil to strong, because I’m with you, I believe wholeheartedly everyone’s talking about I’m not gonna do anything for 2022 or 20. Beyond, I think that once COVID gets under control, and I believe it will, sooner than later that that spring is going to release and there is going to be a huge rocket ship of travel, if you will, to, to especially to drive to destinations, I think it’s going to be the first and then I think European and other travel will follow. But what can cvbs What can dmos do to be at the forefront of that? Right? because nobody’s done anything for what, two, two, during COVID. Right? Since March, nobody’s really spent any money. nobody’s really done a lot of things. So what can they do? Sure. Great. And


thanks for having me on your show. I’m super excited to be here. And really amazed and inspired at everything that I’ve heard so far in this brief, brief show so far, and looking forward to the rest of it. And also just so much fun to be here in person physically with people in three dimensions and bumping into people and talking to them. It’s really kind of incredible. But it’s a great question. And you know, obviously right now, you know, your heartbreak for all the people in tourism, hospitality who lost lost their jobs or furloughed or you know, reduced salaries and all this kind of stuff. And everyone’s just working really, really hard right now. So most destinations, what they’re doing, and it makes logical total sense is just getting, you know, supporting their local businesses. Because when travel comes back and the spring will unsparing that we need to have the restaurants and hotels there, and the attractions and cultural institutions, they have to be there. So we have to support them. So that’s what dmos and other organizations are doing right now, which makes total sense, right. But there’s also time to do to really think about what your core strategy is with respect to marketing. And one of the I think one of the pillars that not a lot of destinations really think about is the LGBTQ pillar. So I think it’s a good time that destinations, everyone is doing twice the work with half the staff. So it’s not like everyone’s sitting around with their twiddling their thumbs. But it’s time to start thinking about how we can go beyond LGBTQ pride or gay pride in terms of welcoming the LGBTQ market. Why do we talk about the LGBTQ market is why this conference exists and why everyone’s here is that it’s, we know it’s a great market, we know they’re gonna spring back before everyone else they’re already traveling. And we can get to that a little in a little bit. But there represents a really great opportunity there a segment that is used to traveling, thinking about risk mitigation during a time of virus, an epidemic. It’s just historical. And that’s that’s true in the LGBTQ market is known to be resilient, even in times of down travel markets. So it’s it’s one I if I was a marketer, I would really start focusing on that and thinking about that and thinking about a strategy and a marketing plan for that segment.

DJ Doran  04:30

Let me ask you a question. It’s from my understanding, and I’m not an expert in this. So I’m asking as someone who’s curious, is my understanding is that hotels, the hotel taxes are what contributes to the budgets to cvbs and dmos or cvbs, specifically, right? So if if, if hotels are not having visitors and there’s no money for them to spend, right. So how do you how do you reconcile that and you say, listen, when COVID is over, It’s sort of like the chicken and the egg, people aren’t going to they’re not going to have that money until people stay. But they’re not going to have people stay unless they market. Right. So how do you how do you how do you speak to those organizations? How do you get a CVB? To say, Listen, I need you to spend X amount of dollars to to, to stay in in front of the people that are going to start traveling again, first,


is a great question. You know, CVB is a convention and visitor bureaus are really the hardest head in some ways. I mean, they’re just this is an awesome conference. And there just aren’t that many of them taking place now. And you’re certainly not getting your conventions and conferences of 10,000 people or 100,000 people in Las Vegas. So hotels are taking a hit and budgets are taking a hit. But you know, on the on the dmo side, what a lot of destination marketing organizations are doing is that drastically cutting their budget, and they’re getting a lot of people really, really unfortunately, sadly having to furlough a lot of people, but what they are focusing on is the marketing, right? They’re still focusing on the marketing, they still have budgets for marketing, and they’re focusing on content creation, because that really when you’re when you get right down to it, content is one of the most important things that drives both awareness of a destination intent to visit a destination people. Yes,

DJ Doran  06:11

me interrupt you. Let me start start that when you say content creation, what content are dmos? Let’s say specifically creating so there’s native content, right? Does native content there’s video, right? There’s audio? And then there’s traditional print? Right, right? How do they determine what the most effective mix is?


I guess you know, their own. They have marketing plans, and they have ways of measuring their marketing plan. So it’s very frequently just determined by the specifics of a dmo. But yeah, destinations, have, you know, words, images and video, say, and that’s what they have. That’s what they’ll be focusing on. And you could do that in so many different ways. You can create your own, you can hire people to do it, you can work with influencers, as we talked a little bit about a little bit earlier today. But it doesn’t still doesn’t answer your question, which is, you know, hotels are getting hit and how do you make up for that money. So destinations are cuts really drastically cutting their budget, they’re also not incurring a lot of expenses, you’re not sending, you know, the president of a company, a dmo and 10 of his staff to one conference in Berlin, say, for example. So there’s, you know, there’s little budgets, you can squeeze from here and there. But smart marketing organizations are really thinking about what’s next. They’re trying to think about how consumers are changing how COVID is changing behaviors. You know, what Fred Dixon said that, which I mentioned earlier today, which was, you know, very few people, very few travels are coming to New York, there’s so few travelers coming to New York, you can kind of name them, oh, there’s Bob and Fred from Cincinnati like that. You can identify them. There’s a few there. It’s tragic. And the hotels are suffering, right? When he went to Provincetown on vacation, he saw crowds of people that are there is where my travelers are going. And what is it about Provincetown, a little bit more outdoors? You get on a bike? You know, it’s a little bit you don’t think of you think of New York is kind of congested in your face, though. It’s really not. I mean, it’s a huge spread out city. So what how much of that is expectation? How much of that?

DJ Doran  08:04

Let me ask you, all right, using that argument, right, right. In New York just has the same amount of outdoor space. And it does, it has a lot about why are LGBT travelers choosing Provincetown, and not New York? Is that a matter of poor marketing? You do,


I think there’s a lot of different potential challenges to overcome. It’s just everyone thinks they know New York or they know New York. I mean, that really is something when you think about New York, everyone has an image of what New York City is, it’s hard to kind of just pivot Oh, we’re not we’re really outdoors. So you know, it’s really about Broadway, which is theaters, which is kind of crowded. So a little bit of is just impressions that people have out there. And it’s those are really hard to change. But But you know, province had a did a masterful job, what was the very first thing that they started talking about? And if First of all, probably time is small enough, and they have they’re cohesive enough that, you know, the biggest guesthouse owner there knows the smallest guest house owner there, and they’re all on the same page. What was the first thing they started talking about protocols safety mask wearing? And they were out there with this message in April, knowing that their season was going to be dependent on people believing that right? What do they have this summer, they had the best season ever. province had had the best season ever, and your cat is having the worst year ever. Not that’s apples and oranges. I mean, you know, there’s huge, huge difference and Provincetown welcomes in the same number of people in a in a summer that New York welcomes in a 10 block, you know, area in a day, you know, so there’s really big differences between the metrics of measurability.

DJ Doran  09:33

So talking about that. Let’s expand on that just a little bit. Is it destinations drive to destinations we all agree that drive to destinations are going to be the first places to emerge. What can cvbs and dmos do now to be at the head of the line when


that happens? expand your radius like VISIT FLORIDA what was her radius? 700 miles it for New York for someone from New York City I drive is a mile like that’s much better. Driving beyond like 10 miles that’s like I have to go over a river. You’re kidding me. So it’s, it really is expanding your radius. 700 miles is a drive market like okay, but look at Key West Key West right now was filling their beds because of the drive market but people I mean, yeah, people drive from Miami, of course, but it’s really a flying market you know, so they’re really pivoting fast. I know that Key West, and even Denver visit Denver, they had a huge campaign in Chicago. Last year everywhere I looked, there were billboards, and even a porta viar toe and Mexico had campaigns I

DJ Doran  10:34

remember saw that all those banners on buses and everything during the winter, you know, wish you were here and it showed the the beaches and what have you, and I’m always interested to find out is, is how these, these demos and cvbs Where do they reach out to what percentage of their of their tourism dollars come from? Where and how far out


most destinations are really it’s about a drive market, right? Most destinations people just come in, they come in, you know, New York, it’s mostly people from New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, they just come in for the day, or they come overnight, and they travel and they spend their money. But the most lucrative segments are flight segments. So you want you want it was between someone from New Jersey and someone from Brazil, you’d want the couple from Brazil, because they’re gonna stay for eight days. They’re gonna spend, you know, five times as much money as that New Jersey couple. So So mostly destinations focus their marketing energy on those more lucrative clients, but they can’t travel. They they just physically not allowed to come in or they can’t get out. There’s all these quarantining. I mean, we have all this is going to change so that there’s a massive pivot to these to the drive market and to those destinations, but as again, for Dixon, I’ll quote him again, as he said, you know, you can’t replace the spending of 65 million people with 8 million locals, you just can’t do it math, the math doesn’t

DJ Doran  11:50

matter. Question. This is a something that I’ve always found fascinating at at previous conferences, whenever I speak to, to marketing people from CBS or dmos. And I, I, we talked about the LGBT tourism segment. And I and they Oh, yes, we want we we want, we want them to come. We want the LGBT tourists dollars, we want the LGBT events to come and consider our city for our for our events. And I asked them, What are you doing? And how much are you spending to attract them? And inevitably, a majority of the time, I get a blank stare? And they say, Well, nothing really. So what I find fascinating is that they recognize the value of LGBT tourism and they’ll be GBT events, but they don’t know how to reach out to them. And they don’t know who to reach out to, to get them to help them. And so is there a mechanism? Or is there something in your travels that you’ve come across? where somebody could be a pivot point for a CVB that says, Listen, hey, I don’t want to? I don’t want to? I don’t want to work this hard. I just want to Here’s the money you do it?


Sure. Yeah. Hundred percent, you know, when you think about, if you have, you know, a bank says, Oh, you know, you have a bank account, you have to invest a little bit of money to get a loan, if you invest zero dollars in your bank account, you’re gonna get zero interest, right? So obviously, you have to invest resources time, you know, time and money, but also really commitment and the commitment typically, for an organization has to kind of come from the top, it can’t just be the oftentimes this happens, like, oh, the lesbian, you know, Gal, and marketing’s project or the gay guy down the halls project, you don’t want it to be some either as project you want to be integral part of the, of the strategic marketing for an organization, right. So that’s one thing. And but most organizations don’t really have the wherewithal, because they haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about this segment. They may know anecdotally, my brother’s gay, or my sister’s queer, or I have a transgender nice, so they maybe start thinking about it a little bit, and they realize, oh, there’s all these obstacles, but you kind of have to kind of like get into the hood, like roll up his sleeves, you know, figure out what’s going on under there. And then you know, you have to do a little bit of work and then invest it not everyone has the time to do that marketing people are super busy, right? And you can just say like, I want to, I want to market to I want to we want to build our golf market. Okay, let’s just, you know, advertise our golf courses. Well, you got to do the work right, no matter what, even if it’s just golf. So, there Yeah, there’s one stop shopping, you know, you can hire an expert, there are a few of them in this room. That’s a typical thing. I think that makes a lot of sense. You want to go to a credible resource. And I do think that you know, experience matters and you want to make sure that person has a bit of a track record. So obviously you can check around our industry is really small, so people know each other and you can sort of get a sense of Yeah, that person comes highly recommended are are where I would, I would go to someone else. So yeah, I think working with an expert is key finding a credible one as a question of, you know, how do you find credible experts in any area of that you’re interested in, you know, LinkedIn connections Who do you know that know someone that understands this industry

DJ Doran  15:01

You know, I travel a lot for my business, you know, and recently I, I traveled to Phoenix. And we didn’t fly because, you know, we have flown before. And it was a packed airplane with a mask. I’m like, there’s a lot of people on here, you know, sitting right next to me. So, plus we had some work we were going to do and in Phoenix at one of our publications, so we drove. And I will tell you that once we left Chicago, people wore masks less and less, like at the places we stopped, right. So I first thought to myself, wow, in the big cities, people are hearing the news. And they’re taking it seriously, and they’re taking precautions, but once you get out into these rural areas, not so much. And so, so I thought that was fascinating. So we get to Phoenix. And have you ever been to Phoenix? Yes. Okay, it’s hot. It was like 95 degrees. When we got there, and it’s so dry, like my lungs were shriveled up to raisins. It felt like and I couldn’t breathe strawberries. Strawberries, like, you know, Billy’s chocolate covered strawberries. And I was I was telling my husband, I was like, Jesus, I can’t breathe and in this town, so we get to get to Phoenix. And I’m going to share a little story that’ll be entertaining. For for. For some of you. There’s not a lot of people right here that haven’t heard this. But for those that haven’t heard, it’s kind of live streaming. people haven’t live streamed, you haven’t heard it. So we get to Phoenix, and um, and one of our group is a vegetarian. So we drive around Phoenix later at night to to find a vegetarian restaurant, we find a vegetarian restaurant, and he orders his food, we order food, and there was a cute guy behind the counter and he was flirting with us. And he’s like, Oh, I have these crimper lay like desserts that you can have. And because it’s five minutes before closing. I’m gonna sound cheap for half price. Me being the businessman. I’m like, okay, that’s a 50% discount sold. So we we bought them. Get back to the Airbnb. We’re all sitting there. We’re exhausted from traveling. I’m eating my creme brulee thing because it has strawberries and whipped cream on it, you know, and I’m horrible, sweetie. And just like, you know, when Billy came around, he says, How many strawberries do you want? I want to say four. But then I said two because everyone was saying two and I didn’t want some gluttonous but I really wanted four especially struck it. But anyway, so we ate it. And I said to my husband, I said, I don’t think this is custard. And I say Can you taste it? And so he does not have a sweet tea. So he’s like tasting he goes, it’s cream cheese. Well, I’m allergic to cheese. So within like five minutes, my arms were as red as this. And so I immediately took a whole Benadryl tablet because medicine and i i have i don’t know why but my body reacts to the full effect of the medicine. So I normally just take a half of Benadryl, I took a full Benadryl so now I’m like zombie like sitting on the couch, and, and falling asleep. And they tell me to go to bed, I go to bed, I get a great night’s sleep, I wake up at 6am I’m in my robe, David, I just want you to know I’m in my robe. And my husband wakes up wakes up. And he gently tapped me on the face and I push him on the bed. And I step back. When I step back, roll the tape that stung me on my foot to jam you to 2020. So I stepped back and I got stung by it. And I jumped forward and I thought I stepped on glass. And then my husband’s like, it’s a scorpion, I run out of the room. I say call 911 because I think I’m going to die in about five minutes. And it turns out after going through the fire depart the emergency people the fire department and then poison control, it ends up that it wasn’t fatal. It’s a bark scorpion. And and they said well, you’re you could form at the mouth and have a lump in your throat. And if that happens, then call us right away because it could be bad. And meanwhile, by the way, my foot was on fire and my leg was numb. And uh, and and so now I had to deal with pain for two to six days. And so that so damn you 2020 Yes, right? Yes. And then I’m going to share this one other thing and then we’ll get back to this and that is I go to work and I’m doing construction on on the publication offices that we just bought in Phoenix and I’m selling on a tree branch on a six foot stepladder because I couldn’t feel my foot I fell and the ladder got kicked out from behind me and I fell on top of the stepladder and I bruised my tailbone, which is why I can’t frickin sit comfortably in this chair right now and I keep squirming around because it feels like I have like a like a knife sticking in my lower back. That’s how committed I am to attending the conference. Well,


that’s travel don’t we just love travel

DJ Doran  19:54

travel. So anyway, I before we went back to Oh, by the way, there was another part of the story. Is after I realized I wasn’t going to die and just gonna be in excruciating pain. I told Joe to go back in the room and get the scorpion and flush it down the toilet. And he goes back in and he says it’s gone. So it was alive. It was in our bedroom. And so I had to call the Airbnb host and they came out and got it and I made him send me that picture to But meanwhile, we stayed there for the whole week. And I was petrified because, you know, if you google something, it scares you even further. So we googled it, and it said number one, you have to have a blacklight because they’re luminescent. And number two, if your blankets on the bed, hang down and touch the floor. They like to climb up the blankets and get in your bed. FYI, welcome to travel but this is the glamour of LGBT travel side of Italy. Anyway, thank you for indulging me on that story. I hope you found that amusing. It was frightening. It was funny now but it was frightening manner. This is why I’ll never leave it live in Phoenix, though. By the way, I couldn’t handle scorpions on the


second floor but my way like Arizona and

DJ Doran  21:01

Arizona to visit stay in a hotel. Just my two cents. So I’m Ed we’re gonna try. I came up with some questions for the QA. Great, Are you up for that? Are you sure? You think you think you’re prepared? Yeah. No?


Kidding. Yeah, I

DJ Doran  21:18

guess it’d be first Hold on one second. For every answer you get right. I will eat a chocolate celery. Ah,


my guys are right and wrong. Oh,

DJ Doran  21:29

I need my glasses for this. There we go. Kirk to enterprise. Okay. What’s your favorite marketing campaign of 2020. In a in homage to Alistair back.


I am come back to discover Puerto Rico because I love everything they did with their influencer campaign. They just they brought in real people. They were diverse. They had hired professional photographers and they did a beautiful job.

DJ Doran  21:55

That’s Leah and Billy. Right. You guys did that. See you guys. That was awesome. Or some of that. Gorgeous. Okay, what’s your favorite LGBT thing to do in New York City?


New York City. I think you just like walk out the door and it’s LGBTQ. Right? You know, I really like the fact that New York celebrates its queer history and owns it and it doesn’t it doesn’t hide it doesn’t ignore it doesn’t pave over it. It except has established historical markers and it talks about you know, these awesome places. There’s a national park that’s LGBTQ focus and Stonewall National Park and there’s the new aids Memorial near St. Vincent hospital that is in the village. Just both of them are just like amazing.

DJ Doran  22:37

That’s awesome. Favorite LGBT travel podcast.


Oh, well, do I have to just turn around to the DJ Doran

DJ Doran  22:45

podcast but the one that Robbie has no fix Jesus.


When the Robbie has okay.

DJ Doran  22:51

buzzer Okay, go watch this.


Short hair long hair job.

DJ Doran  22:57

Seriously, I I don’t you should be wearing a shirt with a p sign on. First place you want to go post COVID


I want to go to Paris. I was this close to going to Paris and had to cancel my trip in early March. Oh

DJ Doran  23:07

man. Do aliens exist?



DJ Doran  23:11

Are they LGBT?


There are no gender specific so they’re all gender. Okay,

DJ Doran  23:17

what is the biggest change in lb t q marketing that you’ve seen over the last 10 years? I think legitimately adding the L the B t in the queue to the marketing efforts. Favorite influencers? I’ll be sitting right there.


I like the Hartwell present company excluded but I like the hard working ones the ones who aren’t just like completely self have all evolved with every single thing they do and I love the kissing ones but not really for marketing. I just think you know I just I will go back to Elise I just think she’s a model for you know at least elisandra was ready to stare calm she is fantastic. Plus Size as transgender has been who sometimes appears in her blog she she uses her vast platform of a million followers or whatever it is in total. And she invites she’s very inclusive herself and invites other people black people and other plus size models. She’s She’s incredible. She she’s hard working excellent.

DJ Doran  24:13

swimming with sharks or manatees.


You know what, I am not a believer in swimming with animals. I just let them swim in the ocean and you swim in your own ocean. Right?

DJ Doran  24:22

But we don’t touch them. Yeah, I


wish I’m fine with letting them coexist in their own Happy Places. I am not a big believer in animal animals for tourism. I just don’t like it. I

DJ Doran  24:32

think it’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten during travel.


You know what I thought I would hate ants. But in Mexico, they really do a really nice job with ants. I’ll just say ants. Yeah.

DJ Doran  24:45

Okay, last question. feather boas or leather straps.


Can we put them together?

DJ Doran  24:56

Good answer. Robert, you’re good. You know, what’s that Pavlov’s law you know? salivate, salivate. Okay. So that’s pretty awesome. Let’s go back. You did very good.


That’s why he got kicked out.

DJ Doran  25:16

To you. She pulls up your job muscles? Well, that’s a whole other show.


But back to straps and bonus.

DJ Doran  25:24

I could No, but it’s the internet, right? We’ll just choked on is it?


Sorry, sorry, this is the queer part of career travel.

DJ Doran  25:36

So, you know, one of the things that I liked about thrive, and I like about thrive besides will and Becca and Sherry, and David, and all of the people that are associated with it, they are so committed to to, to presenting LGBTQ travel in a positive in a positive way. And they are committed to growing this, this this conference thrive, to include as much diversity as possible. So first of all, I really want to thank you guys. That’s awesome. And we’re happy that you, you invited us here. But more importantly, I think the message of what they’re doing is so important, I think that it has to start with education. Right? Because fear. Fear is the catalyst for for negativity, in my view. So if you educate someone, then the fear is dispersed, and then you can really start to grow. In your opinion, where do you see the the leap forward in 2021? What would in your mind be considered a leap forward in LGBT travel? In 2021?


Well, with respect to education, I think you can put that into buckets. Right. So in travel, we think about building bridges, not erecting walls or barriers. Right. So just by virtue of what we voted that out, yeah, right. Oh, bye. Bye, Felicia. If you think about you know, when you travel, you’re you’re bringing, you know, hopefully you bring your best self to somewhere, but you’re you’re meeting someone who might never have met a queer person. I mean, I’ve traveled to some really remote, really conservative places. And you know, you’re you’re just by just being yourself, you’re kind of quote, educating. And I think if we can sort of, we scale that up and the gay travel, LGBTQ travel space, by bringing a lot of, you know, focus on people who are different and diverse to the world that may not necessarily see them, right. So there’s that piece. There’s also this sort of just a marketing, LGBTQ hospitality training piece, and the the focus on diversity, inclusion, and also on, you know, sort of, I guess, diversity and equity inclusion, when you think about how important that is, and what we’ve seen in the summer with the George Floyd marches and systemic protests against systemic racism. I think the big leap forward will be we’ll focus on you know, really, truly creating not just like diversity, but like inclusion really, truly welcoming people, but it takes a lot of work it because you have to sort of start understanding what the what people are in order to really truly welcome them. So. So we can do it society, and we can do it on our own. That’s hard work. But in terms of businesses that were in hospitality, right, what is hospitality, it’s being hospitable is welcoming someone into your home, if you look, I was googling this word. And it’s really obviously quite ancient. And it’s related to the word hospital. And anyway, so the Arabs, the Greeks, the Romans, they all had this real, real deep notions of what, what, what true inclusive welcome was that we can learn lessons from today that someone’s coming into your house, you don’t judge them, you welcome them, you feed them, you give them shelter, you give them a bed, you give them something to drink,

DJ Doran  28:41

right that in mind, when I come to New York,


I have an extra room, I actually say that no one ever comes to visit me. So we’re but that’s true hospitality, right. So I think if you kind of if we kind of go back to the ancient roots of this word, and then bring it through, like the 2020 craziness and the systemic, you know, the systemic inequality that we have, I think if we just really think of, it’s my business to welcome people so it’s my business to know who’s coming into my house and to authentically welcome them for who they are and not judge them. Not say what’s this relationship with these two men? I’m gonna start What’s this all about? Their are they together, they think they have having sex, you know, or two women who might not look like traditional feminine presented women or whatever it is, you know, that these are all your guests, you’ve invited them so you have a duty, your duty of care if you will, to protect them and respect them. Right.

DJ Doran  29:28

What do you do in this? This is a this is a conversation I’ve had multiple times is we worked as a community so hard to be accepted into mainstream and now we’re accepted into mainstream so we’re, we’re not in a bubble as it were anymore. So people say like when we were in porta viar toe I had a conversation with one of their marketing people. And the comment he said to me was, we welcome everyone. We don’t have to specifically market to say we welcome LGBTQ people. We welcome everyone and How do you address that? let’s address that. Sure.


Like I think he, you know, he probably really, it’s probably really true if he’s in Puerto Vallarta and even welcoming probably queer guests for a long time because porta viar toe has been known to be a destination as welcome gay travels in particular, but also LGBTQ travelers in general, for decades, right. And there are there’s our community there. But I just be wary of everyone is welcome are all are welcome. Because I, as a queer traveler, do not trust that, especially just if it’s a straight person slide. Because what do they know? As soon as they don’t necessarily know who you are? They’re, they’re just it’s painting such a broad brush of everyone’s welcome? Well, I can guarantee there’s a few types of people that walk in there that you might, that you might look at askance, or you might not welcome because of stereotypes because of what you think, you know, is going on you so so there’s a lot of sensitivity that needs to be kind of trained. And again, we’re business we need to train, we can’t leave our customer facing teams. On armed we need to arm them with all the hospitality to hospitality tools at our disposal, so that they understand the different types of people. So here’s just kind of a small example. Someone comes into the wheelchair and there’s someone kind of pushing the wheelchair and they show up at the desk. The person in the wheelchair is checking in, but who does the welcome? Who does the customer facing person welcome, or who do they ask for, you know, that they who do they address the person standing up again, 99.9 times out of 100. So so that is the kind of kind of small but illustrative example where I think our hospitality for customer facing teams just don’t, we’re just not equipping them, we’re marketing the heck out of all, we’re inclusive, we’re Welcome, everyone. But then when everyone shows up, the what plays out is very often too satisfying to the customer. And we as marketers, and hospitality providers, we’re supposed to be creating satisfied customers, right? at a profit, like this kind of how we make money, we satisfy our customers, we produce value, they like it, and they come back, they tell their friends. So this is part of the kind of marketing chain that is just disrupted by non conformity, if you will. So we have two men, normally all our customers, everything we train around as a man, heterosexual couple, often with kids that come up to our front desk, everything’s fine, all the training is fine, the training gets disrupted, and it goes off the rails, when anything comes in, that doesn’t conform exactly to what we’ve trained around, it could be to two women with a family of maybe two white women who’ve adopted five, you know, people of color. A good point,

DJ Doran  32:23

I look at a lot of LGBT travel publications and websites, right. And Rachel and I were talking about this, and there’s not a lot of diversity, right? There’s a lot of white males. There’s not a lot of diversity, right. So what can cvbs and dmos do to sort of address that in their marketing. Yeah, I mean, and what should they do?


You know, again, I think we talked about this earlier, but you know, definitely hire people who kind of are very familiar with the industry and very familiar with best practices now and current modern best practices in terms of inclusion. You know, I’m moving more toward like inclusion because I think is a better word and diversity feels very like it’s like by the law Oh, we have to do this as diversity. Here’s our you know, here’s our Benetton ad. But when you’re inclusive, you’re really kind of talking to people and trying to understand what their needs are and how you represent them. Again, I’ll just say Elise, because she’s on the top of my mind, but you know, she’s plus size. So having a plus sized person in your ads or whatever it is, but again, not just checking a box, okay, we have a Muslim, we have a plus sized person, we have someone in a job, but it’s really just thinking through the marketing because a lot of you know women make most of the travel decisions and purchases in tourism and hospitality. So make sure you’re marketing to women. People of color, I think, a good example, another Puerto Rico example is they don’t really actively super actively market to this market. But they’re very popular with people of color queer people of color, you see a lot of queer African American couples from the mainland into, and also queer Latinos from the mainland into coming into Puerto Rico. They’re super comfortable, they’re super warmly welcomed, they love it. They don’t even they don’t even market that much that to that may, because they know they’re just kind of getting it already. But why would you if you were, if you were Puerto Rico, you wouldn’t all your ads wouldn’t be white. People wouldn’t make any sense. You wouldn’t even be representing what’s currently. So it’s also just a question of understanding what your current customer base is. And then celebrating that, right. So it’s easy. And again, that may be just asking Anthony at the front desk. Oh, what what should we have as an ad, we have two hot guys with their shirts off. And that’s kind of what’s been the model for ads for gay travelers for like, you know, 15 years and we celebrated that 15 years ago because it was the only kind of ads that existed and now I think it’s time to LIKE BUTTON button Europe a little bit and and China diversify what what we’re putting in front of people and it goes well beyond just imagery. It’s words. It’s, it’s it’s your inclusive language and your your communications, your press releases your text your way or websites, it kind of when you start going down that path. There’s a lot you can do, but it’s important work to do.

DJ Doran  34:47

What do you see in 2021 and beyond?


You know, we

DJ Doran  34:51

talked about this earlier that you know, the LGBT q travel industry, doing the same old thing they didn’t you know, they’re stuck in the way Things have always done. And you were saying to me is that, hey, we need to get fresh blood in here. And we need to get younger people and younger perspectives. What can what can media people like myself? What can we do to start projecting a more positive and more inclusive imagery in our print publications in our podcasts on our YouTube channels, so forth and so on?


Absolutely. I, you know, I think you just kind of find out who those the new young voices are, there’s always someone coming up. And it’s really awesome for me to see, you know, so many really great content producers who, who are trapped will travelers who were just talking about destinations and talking about, you know, dis telling their story and telling the story of destinations in a real enriching and decision empowering way. And there are a lot of them out there. Again, it just takes kind of a little bit of work, a lot of work, and some good networking to find out, you know, who are the voices out there that are not being heard? And how can we amplify those voices, because there’s just a lot of really good ones. I mean, I’ve been following on Instagram, I follow different hashtags, but also follow people’s followers. So I’ve been following these African American couples who are traveling is lesbian influencers, lesbians of color in these kind of going down these really interesting paths, kind of like, you know, bookmarking them all and tagging them and, and just trying to figure out what they’re talking about where they’re going. So I think it just takes a little, I’m just doing it as sort of an organic way I’m sort of interested in, that’s my field of interest. But I think that someone who if I had a little bit of budget to put behind that I would have someone do some research on that. And then come up with the list, we just cover Puerto Rico, one of my last projects was working on a press trip. And we we looked at all these influencers, but I was just looking, I was just thinking, who does really interesting work with who really shows and highlights the beauty and culture and passion of a destination in an authentic way on their sites. And it was all women, we had an all woman press trip. And it wasn’t specifically for women. It just those are the best people for the particular needs of that particular at the particular time for content creation. And it was awesome. And I have to say this, those women worked hard it was you know, I’ve been on all the male press trips. And, you know, a lot of that is like everyone shows up boozy and bleary eyed the next morning because I went out all night, these girls Man, these women were up, they were taking notes. They were they were going off the press trip getting up earlier to take photos that they needed to take for their blogs at certain times, like sunrise and sunset. They just worked hard not saying gay men don’t work hard. But that was an eye opener for me.

DJ Doran  37:30

Interesting. Um,


oh, my God, another that was a good answers.

DJ Doran  37:37

Cat like,


not? right now. He did after?

DJ Doran  37:42

So I guess my the, you know, one of the things that that intrigues me about about cvbs and dmos. Especially, is is that they they like it when Sam was on earlier right now is saying what is your specific marketing strategy to reach the LGBT audience, we started to list all of the fun things to do and in Florida and, and I think that, to his credit, he came back and we start to talk about the actual marketing aspects of it. So there are a lot of people that do a lot of things in media that are great partners, for for cvbs and destinations, people that run social media campaigns and digital campaigns and print campaigns, influencer campaigns, and so forth and so on. Do you think that that the quote that the fact that COVID happened has now really shifted and giving people time to sort of refocus on what is more effective instead of just


throwing things out there? You know, there’s this pandemics horrendous right? But there have been some silver linings in terms of what people have to really think about everyone’s getting back to basics again, who want to support our businesses and make sure they’re open. But like what is it at the heart of your destination? Is it really just a list of attributes you know, you know, you think beach destinations do this all the time? Look at our beaches, look at our hotels look at our palm trees and they just list attributes. There’s so unmemorable you When do you remember things when do you think back like your earliest memory? What is it for me it was like when I turned three and had a birthday cake and and my mother made it into shape and color that I wanted that’s an emotional memory and it’s your emotions that drive your memories right? So you want to make an emotional connection and into someone that you want to come to destination you’re not doing it with the list of attributes that’s interesting you checking the boxes and I get it’s cluttered and it’s the way that’s a shorthand for people who are busy right marketers who are busy but I just think Yeah, list your attributes know your attributes but know somehow What did it what’s the heart like St. Pete is a really good example for me because when I went there I was like okay to be going to be beautiful beaches and all this kind of stuff. But what struck me was this awesome walkable downtown with music and it was just like, I felt like I was I don’t know this not in. I didn’t think I was in like a Florida beach destination. I thought it was in this like cool place with little Music and great food and all this kind of stuff. And the soul for me was the sort of Southern more southern charm on the Gulf Coast versus the so I think that destinations need to kind of just like dig a little bit further and deeper into find their DNA and find what the emotional connection is, from their destination to potential audience.

DJ Doran  40:19

I’m curious about this, you know, connect meetings, you know, they usually have these appointments, business to business appointments, and it’s meet planners, you know, getting together with, with destinations. And so they, they come out and they say, hey, I want you to have your LGBT event in my city. This is how many rooms we have these facilities, we have this, these are the resources and this is the support, you’ll get so that this conference is more twofold. It’s it’s LGBT tourism, real tourism, because I think that’s going to come back before conferences. I think people are going to travel first. And then and then it’s going to take some time for businesses to plan. Is that something that you would agree with?


Yeah, it’s everyone’s focused on leisure travel right now. And business, you know, business will come back for sure people like, like meeting people in person and meetings will come back. I think when they do like, well, and team doing something really smart, which is integrating live stream, which is integrating people zooming in. It’s great, because you don’t have to fly that person. And you can just zoom them in. It’s like what saves money. And let’s save some time. And let’s get the best talent who happened to be you know, they’re available at that time? They can’t fly here. But so yeah, that I think the meetings were testcase right now, we’re proof of concept right now. But I think that’s gonna just keep evolving, and there’s a lot of work to do. Business will come back, but I’ll be looking over, like, why am I gonna send this team of, you know, expensive team have passed suit, you know, with their expense accounts, instead of just sending one or the restaurant zoom? Like, I think business travel is gonna change a lot, but need to travel is kind of where it’s at right now.



DJ Doran  41:49

that’s a great point. So COVID has sort of changed the paradigm of offices, and how we have our meetings and, and what we do, you know, we can do from the comfort of our own home. So I think leisure travel is going to be like Joe and I saying, Okay, I have cabin fever, we’re going somewhere, you know, we’ll go two feet. Well, I’m not going to Phoenix. But we’ll go to Florida, or we’ll go to places that you know, were easily accessible for us. That’s the leisure travel part of it. And that’s the part that’s going to lead the way and the segment that’s going to lead the way they’re going to be the LGBT travelers. Yeah. So on. On that note, my my final question to you is, how long In your opinion, do you think it’s going to take to recover? I’ve heard three years. Yeah. And how do people survive three years?


multi, multi, multi billion dollar question, right. And, you know, I am no expert in that. I have no idea. I don’t want to be a doom and gloom, er, but I don’t know, I, I think optimistically summer of 22. I could just say it but but you know, I think that there are people traveling right now, to your point about vacations, like fab stays, which I think we have a person here from Paris, they’re talking about people are booking gay, gay, gay, LGBTQ people are notorious for booking last minute, but it’s getting crazy. It’s like next week is now but he’s selling out. They’re selling out their home rental things a week out every week. So I think that’s what the pulse is going to be is just this kind of, like week out kind of thing. And destinations can’t, it’s hard to plan around that it’s really hard to kind of figure out a budget and all this kind of stuff around that. So that’s gonna be really difficult. So I think people are traveling, especially LGBTQ people are traveling, so maybe some organizations could like, could partner with some of these, even the South travel suppliers, I mentioned in my earlier talk, who actually literally selling travel and booking travel right now. Like, what how are they succeeding in doing that? But it’s the protocols. It’s the it’s the queer risk mitigation factors that queer people have, like, they’re a little bit more risk tolerant, and to a certain extent, they’re used to traveling with the fear, you know, like, an atmosphere of travel safety being a concern and all this kind of stuff. So yeah, it’s really it’s really challenging. I mean, we’re talking about this vaccine that could be 90% effective, like that’s in the news today. And if that works, maybe hopefully I’m wrong and that everyone will be traveling next next summer. Let’s pray to the travel goddess today.

DJ Doran  44:09

I’m telling because I’m quite frankly ready to try we’re all ready to travel but


you know, you don’t you traveling with a feeling of fear is not fun. Like already travel is hard for most normal people. It’s just like, God, you go through security and take your shoes and do all this kind stuff. It’s kind of pesky. And you know, not to be empty SAP. Oh, God, no, it’s not pesky. For me. I love traveling, but for regular, you know, regular travel people. So it’s hard to get people off their couch, let’s say let’s put it that way. Right now, people are comfortably ensconced in their couch. But you know, there’s gonna be a huge pent up demand to like just hug Mom, you know, see grandparents see your kids do your nephews and nieces or whatever, that will just burst forth. I think as soon as there’s like a reliable vaccine.

DJ Doran  44:47

I Well, first of all, I completely agree with that. I think travel is egregious. Like one of the things that I talked about is now you can fly round trip to Paris for $200


and they won’t go Turn your right around and get on your round trip. But that’s

DJ Doran  45:01

the problem. So we booked a whole bunch of flights to Boston, because we’re going to go to Salem, Massachusetts for Halloween, which if you haven’t done, we’ve done, I’m from Massachusetts.



DJ Doran  45:12

know. It’s very crazy. So I booked two round trip tickets for, for us, me and my husband to go to Boston, for $150 from Chicago to write roundtrip ticket to fly to Phoenix is $75 roundtrip ticket to Vegas is $50. Through this, this website called Scott’s cheap flights that I belong to. The problem is you have all these cheap flights, but you can’t go anywhere because of you know, you go someplace, and none of the restaurants are open or something’s not open or whatever. And so I think one of the challenges is booking out in advance hoping that there’s going to be, you’re going to get the value of the cheap flights, hoping that the pandemics going to be over as risk. That’s a big risk, unfortunately. But where do you where’s the first place that you want to go? Aside from Paris? In the United States


a trick question,


it’s not to


cry in the US where I want to go. Probably, you know, I also had to cancel I had canceled so many trips, but I would love to see my brother, my brother just move I’ve now three brothers, two brothers in California. And I want to visit the brand new the brother who just moved to California, so that’d be my my next domestic trip.

DJ Doran  46:22

Do you have in your family? Like are people crazy about COVID? Like, I have a sister who’s crazy about COVID. You know,


I have a lot of we have a lot of healthcare people and professionals, doctors, and my families and people are just very, very, like objective and you know, well spoken and articulate and learned about the topic. So we have 90 year old parents, that’s our biggest fear, and they’re awesome, and they’re super healthy. My dad talk about optimism. He’s 91 he just got a total of his second total knee replacement surgery. That I call that optimism. That’s all right. It’s like

DJ Doran  46:51

yeah, I’m gonna


get there. Great. We just don’t want we don’t want to go near them because of you know, obviously obvious reasons. obvious.

DJ Doran  46:57

So last question. Um, how do you think this election since we’re now appearing to go in a new direction? Do you think that’ll calm things down? Yeah, already? Yeah, that’ll make people a little bit less leery about traveling or leaving their home space?


Yeah, I think it’s just has this like this, this massive kind of nice, peaceful wave across, you know, obviously, with some exceptions, but just feel it feels like you know, already the stock market got went way up. Like I just think that people are going to feel optimism when they know that there’s some leader in control or a leader leading scientific with science, you know, instead of saying, like, okay, we have a problem, let’s get our arms around. There’s nothing, you know, don’t bet against the United States, right? Don’t bet against the spirit of America, like we put our minds to what we can do anything. And I think once we put our minds to this pandemic, we’re gonna, we’re gonna we’re gonna get our arms around it.

DJ Doran  47:48

Excellent. Well, Ed, it was such a pleasure as always to talk to you about this and any many other subjects they talked about. I hope you’ll come back again, and be a guest on the show. But it’s a big round of applause. Thank you. And it was a




Thank you all.

DJ Doran  48:05

Thank you, everyone, for live streaming and watching this edition of the DJ Doran show. You’ll be able to see it on all of the podcast platforms that are out there once these guys get it edited and sent to us. So, so thank you, thank you. You can find all the episodes of the DJ Doran show on my website, DJ Doran calm or on iHeartRadio Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, Pandora, SoundCloud, Stitcher, Deezer castbox and pod ematic or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. Be sure to subscribe to get the latest episodes as they are available. And be sure to follow the DJ Doran show on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

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