Marriott International is one of many travel companies that have made a point of supporting the LGBT community through events and sponsorships. Now, the company, which is the parent of hotel brands including The Ritz-Carlton and Courtyard, has recruited one of the most significant figures in the LGBT community for its new #LoveTravels campaign.
The social media and marketing initiative, which launches today in time for June's pride month, features Jason Collins, the first openly gay NBA player that made headlines last year after making his orientation public in a feature for Sports Illustrated. In addition to wrapping hotels in Washington, DC, the US-focused campaign has a dedicated website and also features related content on Marriott's gay travel sites. Pinpointing the market is a smart move, as LGBT marketing specialist group Out Now estimated the LGBT travel market to hit $181 billion in 2013, according to USA Today.
This isn't the first time Marriott has ran an LGBT-focused campaign. #LoveTravels is an extension of its "Be You, With Us" initiative that launched in 2012, which helped the company be named one of the best places to work for LGBT equality by the Human Rights Commission—a surprising honor for a company with a largely conservative board.
In fact, it's not that surprising. Marriott International chairman Bill Marriott, a devout Mormon, has been proactive in supporting same-sex benefits for employees and embracing the LGBT community, even though he personally believes marriage should be between a man and woman, and he's a firm believer that welcoming all customers is core to the Marriott family of brands.
"Our goal is really to educate and engage and shift perception of our portfolio brand," Kristine Friend, senior director of segment marketing for Marriott International, told USA Today. "We've decided to kick off a holistic campaign that really helps celebrate inclusiveness and beautifully illustrates our desire to make people feel at home at our hotels."
As USA Today points out, other hotel brands are anxious to own this market as well. San Francisco-based Kimpton Hotels & Restaurant has been offering LGBT support since the 1980s, while Preferred Hotel Group started its Preferred Pride program three years ago that features gay-friendly hotels, and Hilton offers a gay travel package.
Meanwhile, United Airlines has been a longtime partner of the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association and KLM, the Royal Dutch Airline, has marketed to LGBT customers that it will fly them, with pride, to the global circuit of gay pride festivals.
Below, check out behind-the-scenes videos from the #LoveTravels print campaign photo shoot:
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