Data Drives Insights for a More Inclusive World


How MMGY Global’s Portrait of LGBTQ+ Travelers in America™ will help shape multicultural marketing strategies

By Sarika Chawla, Manager, Narrative Content and Strategy, MMGY

In our commitment to developing more inclusive approaches to marketing, MMGY Global’s integrated capabilities – from research to strategy to creative – are essential in creating a successful approach.

Our five values: inclusive, empowering, curious, creative and transformative

Starting with our data-driven research, “MMGY Global’s values mission gives us a clear direction on where to focus the spotlight,” says Chris Davidson, EVP, MMGY Travel Intelligence.

In 2021, MMGY Travel Intelligence launched its inaugural report diving into the travel sentiment, needs and priorities of underrepresented groups. We began with The Black Traveler: Insights, Opportunities & Priorities by partnering with Black advocacy organizations in the leisure and meeting spaces to help develop detailed survey questions. In a survey of 8,500 individuals, we found that Black travelers spent $109.4 billion on leisure travel in a single year – far exceeding the industry’s expectations. Such robust data also allowed us to examine the decision-making process around vacation planning and help expose the barriers and experiences that Black travelers encounter across markets.  

As more and more clients set goals around diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), our research provided a powerful basis for forthcoming marketing strategies. Further studies on underrepresented communities included Vistas Latinas: A Landmark Study on U.S. Travelers of Hispanic Descent; Portrait of Travelers with Disabilities: Accessibility and Mobility; and, most recently, our first-ever analysis on LGBTQ+ travelers. 

Drawing the lines from data to client strategy

Once the MMGY Travel Intelligence team surveys, distills and analyzes the numbers into a report, our strategy team is then empowered to develop insights around that data. 

“Strategy requires a balance of left brain-right brain about how a specific audience will behave,” explains Trey Williams, VP of Strategic Planning. “We can take the data and then infer how they might plan a vacation, how they will book it, what they may do in-destination and the mindset they’re in after they return home.”  

 In the new Portrait of LGBTQ+ Travelers in America, MMGY Travel intelligence collaborated with its partner in the LGBTQ+ space, Brave Trails, and developed questions for a U.S. traveler sample of 42,790 and a U.S. LGBTQ+ traveler sample of 2,342.

 Among the key findings:

  • When traveling in pairs, large groups or with children, travelers who identify as LGBTQ+ spent more on average than the total U.S. traveler in 2021.
  • Personal safety is an important consideration for half of LGBTQ+ respondents when deciding where to go. 
  • 52% of respondents said that state politics also impacted their decision
  •  39% said that any negative perceptions that locals and other visitors may have of the LGBTQ+ community could make them uncomfortable and influence their travel decisions. 
  • Half of LGBTQ+ travelers are more likely to consider a destination if anti-discrimination laws are in place, or if there is LGBTQ+ representation in their marketing.

Built on that foundation, our strategy team is now empowered to develop applicable recommendations for MMGY Global’s portfolio of clients. Ultimately, our goal is to use these insights to drive how we market to diverse audiences in a targeted and effective way.

As part of that process, they pull in other insights from third-party research providers and firsthand perspectives, as well as common-sense intuition about the communities we’re trying to reach.   

Multicultural Versus Inclusive Marketing

While the instinct may be for a DMO  to cast a broad net to reach all travelers, our research tends to support a more nuanced approach. 

Inclusive marketing describes campaigns that embrace diversity by including people from different backgrounds or stories that relate to unique audiences.

Multicultural marketing involves intentionally targeting people of specific races, cultures, identities or ethnicities within a brand’s overall audience. 

Being broadly inclusive and “open to all” doesn’t necessarily have a strong impact on marginalized groups who may need more personalized, informative messaging to influence their decisions.

Bringing the Emotional Connection Through Creative Work

With data-led research as our basis and comprehensive insights from our strategy team, it’s then up to our creative experts to build an emotional connection between the brand and intended audience. After all, it’s one thing to have a big idea; it’s another to have an idea that is rooted in data-driven strategy and human truth to bring impactful results.

“The sooner creative partners with strategy on a concept, the better,” says Julie Major, VP, Group Creative Director at MMGY. “We don’t like to get too far into an idea without grounding it into research and insights.”

Having a strong foundation to work from also allows us to slice and dice the information to meet each client’s needs. Whether we’re delivering messages around making LGBTQ+ travelers feel welcome in a destination or finding common ground between leisure travelers and meeting planners, the depth of our research leads to concepts that we may not have identified otherwise. 

As we look to 2023 planning around MMGY Global’s Portrait of LGBTQ+ Travelers in America, we will continue to lean on the report’s top-level findings while also developing insights and campaigns that are customized to the client.

Ultimately, our goal is not simply to Inspire People to Go Places; it’s to create a more equitable and inclusive connection between diverse audiences and the places they choose to go. The connective thread running through MMGY Global’s proprietary research, strategic planning and creative thinking allows us to reach travelers from their unique perspective – and get them to where they need to go.