For Gay Dad Families, Travel Advertising Frequently Misses the Mark

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 the ad for Holiday Inn that is all about a couple checking in before picking up their newly adopted baby. These ads are so great. And I love the advertisements that are directed to the gay 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?

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.

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.

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 versus 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 excluding 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, 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. The easily distracted tweep will see a suggestion for following or some other content and then we may lose his 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.

Travel Advertising on Television

Did you know that the LGBT population enjoys destinations beyond Ibiza and Palm Springs? It’s true. In the U.S.A. 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 those are 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, U.S.A. in the Magic Kingdom.

If you’re going to advertise during “Grey’s Anatomy” or “How To Get Away With Murder” on ABC, 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 to their honeymoon aboard Singapore Airlines. You could make money 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.

Online Gay Travel Advertising

We’d like to see some appropriate cookie-based advertising. When we’re 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 a.m.?

With today’s technology, including social media apps that are 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 their advertising, and able to go beyond advertising to the general gay population that fits into the stereotype travel companies seem to think is spot-on and they should adhere to.

My Expectations for Gay Travel Advertising

I 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.

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? Contact me!

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