There is a demand for travel agents with a specialty niche and an awareness of travel needs for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) travelers around the world. The International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) supports the use of a travel agent to plan a vacation. IGLTA suggests finding a specialty travel agent who is an expert on the destination of choice.
IGLTA's Travel Agent Committee suggests these top ten reasons to use a travel agent for planning a vacation:
- "10. YOU get to boss someone (for once).
- 9. When you use a travel agent, you are supporting a local business, and that's good for your local economy.
- 8. Chances are the travel agent has most likely been to where you are going, and can make recommendations; unlike your computer monitor, which will only show you those that paid the most.
- 7. Time is money, and your local travel agent will save you time by making all the calls for you, preparing your itinerary, and monitoring your booking until you get back.
- 6. Travel Agents belong to consortiums, which in turn offer you discounted rates on cruises, hotels, car rentals and more.
- 5. Because of their buying power, travel agents may be able to get favors, or have change and refund fees waived from the vendors.
- 4. You're at the Airport, and the flight is cancelled. You can stand in line with 100 people in front of you, call the 800# and be forever on hold, or call your travel agent and get re-accommodated right away?
- 3. There are still over 30,000 travel agencies in the U.S., so obviously they are doing something right for their clients.
- 2. You get to communicate with a real person. Your travel agent will knows you, and the things that make you satisfied.
- 1. Without a Travel Agent, you are on your own..."" (firstname.lastname@example.org., http://www.iglta.org/agentbenefit.cfm)
IGLTA includes on their website a place to locate a travel agent who is proficient in particular destinations and gay and lesbian travel. Travel Sense also is an online resource for travel agents and individuals. Travelers can find a travel agent who is a member of ASTA, (American Society of Travel Agents) and specializes in gay and lesbian travel. Those agents that are specialized in GLBT travel may look into those sites for marketing purposes as well.
In 2005, ASTA partnered with IGLTA to share marketing and learning resources to enhance GLBT travel. ASTA offers certification courses for agents choosing to specialize in GLBT travel. GLBT travel is one of the fastest growing travel groups in the country.
There are numerous resources for travel agents specializing in GLBT travel. When looking for hotels, check to make sure they are TAG Approved, which welcomes the GLBT community. Some tour operators listed with ASTA, specialize in GLBT travel, such as OUT Adventures, and Carefree Vacations.
Here is a list of GLBT destinations with links for agents researching GLBT travel information:
- New Orleans
- San Francisco
- Florida Keys
- Asheville, NC
- Santa Fe, NM
- New Zealand
- Cape Cod
- Kansas City, MO
- Las Vegas
- Miami Beach, FL
Three selected hotel brands who specifically welcome the GLBT community on their websites are:
GLBT travel can be a lucrative and exciting business for travel agents. With good marketing, proper knowledge, and consideration for GLBT travel clients, the business can be very rewarding.