Market to ME: gay travel advertising… or not

gay travel advertising featured
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Do you know what I love about modern television and online marketing?  Advertisements that speak to me and that I don’t mind watching or looking into more.  A catchy ad does wonders for a brand, like the Disney World ads that have tiny bits of magic woven into them.  Or there’s an ad for the Holiday Inn that is all about a couple checking in before picking up their newly adopted baby.  These ads are so great.  And what about gay travel advertising?

Gay Travel Advertising: why can't travel companies market to gay families? What we experience when we look for gay family travel options 2traveldads.comI love the gay travel advertising that is directed to the LGBT population.  It’s nice that marketing firms and businesses understand the need for rainbows, glitter and sweaty boys, because I want to take my kids on a family vacation to a place where that’s all they experience.  Wait, what?  

Yep.  If you’ve not be hit with gay travel advertising campaigns, here’s a glimpse into what’s a little too often experienced.  True, actual gay travel companies understand the variety of types of travel and goals of different travelers, so you’ll see more targeted images when you’re searching within their own sites, but beyond those specific niches companies, gay travel advertising is a bummer and doesn’t cater to the gay family travels.

My issues with Cookies

Being a gay dad with two small kids and a husband, when I’m reading an article on the web and a sidebar ad pops up for a glitter covered booze-fest in the Mediterranean, I’m not feelin’ it.  I manage my own blog site where the terms “LGBT” and “gay” are used continually, and yes I am reading work from other gay writers, and yes I’m reading about travel trends, so yes, the cookies on my computer want me to enjoy the gayest of the gay travel experiences.  Forget that I’m writing and publishing about travel with kids, my cookies know what’s best for me and my family and I guess what we need is a week aboard a wild cruise ship or at an all-gay resort.  Oh gay travel advertising, you’re such a card.

What I’d like to see is this:  a promo video before we watch something on YouTube that shows two dads playing on the beach in Jamaica with their kids.  Maybe Jamaica was a bad choice, as it’s not the most gay-friendly destination.  Or I’d love to see a banner ad with two moms and their kids flying the friendly skies.  

Sell All Your Stuff Stick Man Gay Family on Beach
graphic created for 2TravelDads by

And you know what?  A getaway without the kids can actually happen, and you’d think that couples like us might fancy a different sort of getaway… just like a husband and wife might plan.  You know, we’d love to getaway to an all-inclusive couples resort and know that we’re welcome vs assuming we will be.  In the late 90s and into the 00s there were some legal issues with a certain brand being for “couples only” and clearly discluding LGBT couples.  That’s since passed except for resorts in Jamaica where homosexual acts are illegal.  Anyways, getting back on topic.

The other issue I face with advertising based on cookies and writing about our gay family is that certain algorithms love to pair our blog and associated social media with, um, the rather playful and lewd sites that also include gay-oriented content.  “Follow @2TravelDads on Twitter.  You may also like… @xxxbillyboys…”  Yeah no.  That’s not related to our content at all.  For the easily distracted Tweep they might see a suggestion for following or for other content and then we may lose their engagement.  So long research on gay-family-friendly travel, hello glistening gym-bods…  Cookies and like-interest marketing make it tricky to maintain a connection and engagement with short attention spans or guys that are only curious about our travel tips and stories, but not actually researching for practical use.  

Actual Travel Advertising on Television

blurred gay cruise adDid you know that the LGBT population enjoys destinations beyond Ibiza and Palm Springs?  It’s true.  In the USA, we tend to enjoy hiking in the mountains, golf and even, dare I say it, professional sports.  It’s rare to see a billboard targeting LGBT populations around the States and it’s even more rare to see television spots showing our families or lives.  It’s totally true that there are some brands that have created ads displaying two moms or two dads in regular, domestic life, but it’s few and far between, and typically you need to search the internet for it because that’s where you’ll see the ads.  You don’t see live television ads portraying two dads and their kids on a couch eating Doritos and watching a football game.  You don’t see two moms holding hands watching their kids splashing in the waves, trying to coax same-sex families to the tropics.

What I do see on television:  mom, dad, son, daughter – exploring a cruise destination or walking down Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom.  

If you’re going to advertise during Grey’s Anatomy or How To Get Away With Murder on ABC (USA), shows with gay characters and accurate distribution of gay population through the cast (and viewership), you might as well capitalize on that audience and show a commercial with two men heading off on their honeymoon aboard Singapore Airlines.  You could make bank capturing some market share from the two women planning their winter adventure to Montreal but who haven’t booked Air Canada flights yet…  Just a suggestion.


The real world of online gay travel advertising

Chris Taylor and Dudes at Sunset Casa Marina Jax Beach 5And online advertising that is going to be in front of almost every individual that could be traveling, let’s see some appropriate cookie based advertising.  For example:  we’ve been researching “family travel Iceland” and “traveling with kids UK.”  We’re still not seeing ads that play to us, either as gays or a family.  Why is that?  True, the second I start looking for flights to Mexico I see Puerto Vallarta and all its rainbows, but why so inconsistent?   

What I see online: sidebars of heterosexual couples walking on a beach; autoplay video ads of that same family of four we saw on TV but now at a baseball game.  And seniors.  How does my computer know that I go to bed early and can’t sleep past 5:00 am?

With today’s technology, including social media apps being authorized within all kinds of other programs, you’d think that online advertisers would be effectively using the information and preferences of their users more accurately.  It would just be nice if they were able to be more specific in the advertising vs advertising to the general gay population that fits into the stereotype travel companies seem to think is spot on and they should adhere to.

What are my expectations for gay travel advertising?

Rob Taylor and LittleMan at Pike Place Market SeattleI guess I shouldn’t be complaining that at least advertising does treat me like a standard traveler not just a gay traveler, but it would be nice to be directed more easily to tours and travel that would suit my specific family. Most of the travel ads we see aren’t offensive, which is nice, but it would be great to see something that was very specifically for me and I think we have the technology in this day and age to do so.  

Here’s the truth:  if we saw ads for two cruise tour companies with the same exact offerings, or even airlines for that matter, we WOULD book with the company that clearly understands its potential clientele.   While advertising doesn’t necessarily always influence a destination decision, it can mean all the difference when it comes to setting competitors apart.


I think it’s safe to say that the gay community all around the world understands the need to support our own business as well as others that make an effort to incorporate us.  As a free piece of advice to the travel boards, airlines, cruise companies and hotels around the world:  market to us and follow through on the vision you create.  Make us want to enjoy traveling with you and then over-deliver on the awesome.  That sounds like a lofty request, but it’s not tough to do.  Need help?  Call me.


Listen to the stick men and visit to learn more about freeing up your world to enjoy travel and live a life less-stressed.

Originally written for under the title For Gay Dad Families, Travel Advertising Frequently Misses the Mark

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8 Responses

  • I normally don’t comment, even though I read plenty of travel blogs written by gay travelers. But this one I can totally relate to. Most of the time, gay travel blogs seem to promote the “hedonistic” side of the LGBT community, but LGBT travel isn’t always about hooking up on the road. While I have nothing against that, I also enjoy activities that straight people enjoy, heck, these are activities where one’s sexual orientation don’t even have to matter (climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, anyone?). So while I understand the need for the LGBT community to go somewhere where they can be whoever they want to be, I also find it quite annoying that most LGBT travel sources on the web seem to think that LGBT travel is all about partying and hunting for boys. Thanks for writing a piece that doesn’t follow this trend.

    • Thank you for the thoughtful comment. Yeah, it’s weird when we’re looking to plan trips that aren’t media trips, but actual vacations. I feel like as couples and families like ours become more “normalized” we should be seeing a little more direct marketing. And like you said, there’s more to being gay and traveling than just enjoying pleasurable company on the road. 🙂

      • I actually am setting up my tour website ( that will cater gay men to Indonesia. I am Indonesian male living in New Jersey with hubby, my idea is to show my beautiful country (not just Bali) for now, and planning to open tour for Philippines as well. Right now I have 2 tours, one for 16 days and other one 12 days.
        It is not completed yet, but you guys can check, let me know if have any question. if interested, please contact me first, i will let you know when is completed.

        Our tour is laid back tours, each participant will have many chances to explore things as they please.

        Any suggestion will be appreciated.

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