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Destination Choice and Travel Behaviour of Gay Men - In Victorian

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Destination Choice and Travel Behaviour of Gay Men - In Victorian ...

    Brock University

    Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies

    Destination Choice and Travel Behaviour of Gay Men

    Final Report

    SSHRC Internal Seed Grant

    Michael Lück, Ph.D.

    Final Report, SSHRC Internal Seed Grant Destination Choice and Travel Behaviour of Gay Men Michael Lück, Ph.D., Dept. of Recreation & Leisure Studies, Brock University

    Content

    1 Introduction ..................................................................................... 3

    2 Context ............................................................................................ 3

    3 Methodology.................................................................................... 4

    4 Limitations....................................................................................... 5

    5 First Findings ................................................................................... 5

     5.1 Demographics ......................................................................... 5

     5.2 Travel Patterns ........................................................................ 6

     5.3 Gay Destinations ..................................................................... 6

     5.4 Brand Loyalty ......................................................................... 6

     5.5 Travel Motivations .................................................................. 7

     5.6 Is Gay Tourism Sex Tourism? ................................................. 7

    6 The Role of Students ........................................................................ 7

    7 Conclusion and Future Developments .............................................. 8

    8 Budget ............................................................................................. 9

    9 Acknowledgements .......................................................................... 9

    10 References ................................................................................... 10

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    Final Report, SSHRC Internal Seed Grant Destination Choice and Travel Behaviour of Gay Men Michael Lück, Ph.D., Dept. of Recreation & Leisure Studies, Brock University

    1. Introduction

    Market segmentation has long been a major tool for businesses in various industries. Tourism, in particular, is a very diverse and fragmented industry, and thus market segmentation has become an important tool for tour operators, attractions, airlines, and the like. One particular segment is the gay community, which is said to travel more frequently than the average population, and has a relatively high disposable income. Thus, it is surprising that there is little research addressing the issues of gay travellers, and the “pink dollar” as main source of income for tourism businesses.

    This research project attempts to fill two large gaps in research regarding gay tourism. Two main themes will be addressed. The first theme looks at gay travel preferences and destination choices, while brand loyalty builds the second theme of the study. After completion of this study, the proposed project will investigate gay tourist behaviour regarding sex during vacation, and risk-taking in terms of sexual transmitted diseases (STDs) (see Future Developments, p. 7)

2. Context

    In Victorian times, gay men from northern European countries travelled to the Mediterranean, in particular Italy and Greece, seeking culture and climate, but especially companionship of other men (Clift, Luongo, & Callister, 2002). Until the 1990s, gay travel remained separate from mainstream travel, but at the same time, it was barely advertised and not visible. All too often, tour operators and destinations did see a potential market among gay and lesbian travellers; however, they did not commit to these markets out of a fear of boycotts from the rest of their clientele, and possible negative images. One of the first incidents, which resulted in public awareness, occurred in 1993, when American Airlines flew a group of gay travellers from New York to Dallas. After the flight the crew requested all blankets and pillows to be removed due to a fear of AIDS. As a result, American Airlines established one of the first gay liaisons within a large company, despite the threat of a boycott. Today, American Airlines is still said to be the favourite airline of many gay travellers (Clift, Luongo et al., 2002; Roth & Luongo,

    2002). Since the 1990s, destinations, tour operators, and travel agents have gradually become aware of market opportunities and have started targeting advertising toward the gay market. Today there are gay travel agencies and gay tour operators, offering mainstream tours and regular tickets for the gay community, but also holidays in gay resorts and on gay cruises. Destinations increasingly target the gay market in advertising campaigns as well, for example Toronto’s campaign “You’re here, you’re queer – Let’s

    go shopping” (Roth & Luongo, 2002). This slogan supports the statement that gay men

    usually have a higher disposable income and are more willing to spend money on branded products, than the average citizen (Roth & Luongo, 2002).

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    Final Report, SSHRC Internal Seed Grant Destination Choice and Travel Behaviour of Gay Men Michael Lück, Ph.D., Dept. of Recreation & Leisure Studies, Brock University

Cox (2002) notes that one of the main motivations for trips to “Boytown” (cities with

    active gay communities, such as San Francisco and New York) is that for gay men who

    are not out, it is an opportunity to live a gay lifestyle while on holidays. In such a large

    city (and away from home “Smalltown”) one would not be recognised and can remain

    closeted (Cox, 2002). Large cities provide plenty of opportunities to meet other gay men

    and become sexually active, which is one of the prime motivations for gay male tourists

    (Want, 2002). The UK Health Department is concerned with education about HIV

    prevention and identified “gay and bisexual men” and “men and women who travel

    outside the UK” as main risk groups.(Clift, Callister, & Luongo, 2002). Indeed, Hall (2001) notes that gay lifestyles and activities may occur in liminal spaces, when he states

    that “the customary courting relationships were abandoned during the holiday period and

    individuals were more apt to engage in sexual relationships with strangers” (p. 101).

3. Methodology

The appropriateness of quantitative research alone has been questioned, because such

    surveys do not allow the researcher to learn about the tourist’s perspective, but rather

    limits the respondent to the predetermined responses (McIntosh, 1998). Thus, this

    exploratory study included three stages.

The first stage included qualitative interviews with a convenience sample of gay men.

    Interviews give the researcher the opportunity to receive more in-depth information about

    various issues, which then can be translated into a quantitative survey. The interviews

    were undertaken in two different modi. First, five face-to-face interviews were

    undertaken in the Greater Toronto Area. Second, eight interviews with similar content

    were undertaken via msn messenger with participants who have been recruited from gay

    chatlines. The Internet interviews were chosen in order to achieve a more “global”

    sample, as well as to provide a test for this interview method. Both interview surveys

    were cleared by the Brock University Research Ethics Board (files #03-158 and #03-165).

In the second stage of this research project a pilot survey was developed and administered.

    The foundation for this questionnaire was a review of literature about research in related

    fields (i.e., general travel behaviour and brand loyalty), and the pertinent issues identified

    by participants of the interviews of the first stage. This stage was developed as an Internet

    based survey, so that the opportunity is given to survey a large number of respondents

    worldwide. In collaboration with the Centre for Learning, Education and Teaching

    Technologies (CTLET) at Brock University, this webbased survey was programmed and

    went “live” in February 2005. Ten gay men were recruited through the

    gay/lesbian/transgender student support “Brock Pride” at Brock University, and invited to

    participate in this pilot study. The results, as well as discussion with the respondents did

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    Final Report, SSHRC Internal Seed Grant Destination Choice and Travel Behaviour of Gay Men Michael Lück, Ph.D., Dept. of Recreation & Leisure Studies, Brock University

    not reveal any unclear questions, or any technical errors. Thus, it was decided to keep the survey online, and move to Stage Three.

    The third stage is the implementation of the final quantitative questionnaire on the basis of the pilot study. Currently, this stage is at the very beginning, with approximately 85 respondents who have filled in the survey. Respondents are being recruited through a variety of sources, such as gay chatlines on the Internet, personal contacts, internet discussion groups, gay interest groups, and the like. The webbased survey was approved by the Brock University Research Ethics Board (file #04-259). This survey is planned to be online for the next three years, in order to identify possible trends and changes in the responses.

4. Limitations

    It is acknowledged that Internet-based surveys do have limitations. In particular, only respondents who are Internet-users can be reached. However, it is very difficult to identify members of the gay community if they are not “on the scene”, i.e. visiting gay venues (bars, clubs, bathhouses, and the like). Many gay men (especially older men) are not frequenting gay venues, but using gay chatlines and dating services online. In order to reach respondents of various backgrounds and interests, the recruitment of respondents is going to be manifold through the means mentioned above. The advantage to achieve a larger sample is anticipated to overcompensate for the weaknesses of this sampling method. It is also acknowledged that for the same reasons it is very difficult to estimate target numbers of participants.

5. First Findings

    The findings of this study are very preliminary at this stage. Obviously, the responses of thirteen men are not enough to generalize the findings for the whole population. As described earlier, the purpose of the interviews was to help create the online survey. As such, we were interested in specific issues that were important to the respondents, and thus should be included in our main survey. However, some of the most important results will be presented here.

5.1 Demographics

    The majority (nine) of the interviewed men were Canadian citizens. In addition two Americans, one Irish, and one New Zealand resident participated in this pilot study. The age of the participants ranged from 22 to 47 years. Five respondents stated that they were in a relationship, while three were single. Six respondents were “out of the closet”, while one was “out to all but most family”, and one was not “really out”.

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    Final Report, SSHRC Internal Seed Grant Destination Choice and Travel Behaviour of Gay Men Michael Lück, Ph.D., Dept. of Recreation & Leisure Studies, Brock University

    5.2 Travel patterns

    All respondents stated that they like travelling, and the majority would travel with their friends or alone. The main purposes for their travel were vacation and visiting friends and family (VFR). The frequency of trips ranged from one to ten trips per year, with an average of 5.25 times per year.

    Almost all participants book their flights and vacation through the Internet, with only few respondents using their travel agents for advice and bookings. The main reason for booking through travel agents was getting “better deals” (for example, FlightCentre).

    Participants were asked how much money they usually spend for their vacation. Converted into US dollars, the responses ranged from $400 to $7000 per trip, with an average of $2430.

5.3 Gay Destinations

    Almost all participants stated that they have travelled to a gay destination at least once. Respondents mentioned a large number of destinations which they perceived being gay destinations. These included particularly large cities in North America and Europe. The most popular destination was Amsterdam, which was mentioned by six of the

    respondents. Other European countries and cities included Germany, Spain, Greece, Austria, France, the United Kingdom, London, Madrid, Barcelona, and Berlin. In North America, cities like San Francisco, New York City, Key West, Miami, Hawai’i, Seattle

    and Palm Beach were mentioned. In other regions, gay destinations included Auckland, Sydney, Thailand, and Buenos Aires.

    Respondents were asked “If you did not have to worry about time, or money, what were your three dream destinations?” The results showed a wide range of destinations, from

    relatively common places, such as various countries and cities in Europe and North America, to more exotic places, like Bali, Singapore, South Africa, China, Tahiti, Rio de Janeiro, Arab Emirates, Australia, India, Russia, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

    When asked if there are places they would not travel to, most respondents stated that there are no countries they would avoid. Only one respondent stated that he would not travel to the Middle East. A few participants stated that there are some countries (without naming them), but that the decision not to travel there is not related to any gay issues, but to safety and health risks.

5.4 Brand Loyalty

    Generally, respondents do not seem to be loyal to specific airlines or alliances. The price and convenience of connections seemed to be of superior motivation to book a specific flight. Among the few who stated loyalty to an airline or alliance, United Airlines,

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    Final Report, SSHRC Internal Seed Grant Destination Choice and Travel Behaviour of Gay Men Michael Lück, Ph.D., Dept. of Recreation & Leisure Studies, Brock University

    American Airlines, Air Canada, Star Alliance, and One World were mentioned. No frills

    airlines, such as Tango, WestJet, and Jetsgo were popular among the younger

    respondents. Only one respondent stated that he was loyal to a specific guesthouse in Key

    West, whereas other respondents indicated loyalty to a hotel chain, such as Holiday Inn,

    Hilton, Sheraton, and Days Inn. Three respondents stated that they have stayed at a gay

    owned/gay friendly hotel or guest house at least once.

5.5 Travel motivations

Participants were asked what their motivations were to travel to a specific destination.

    The predominant reason was “culture”, both in terms of exotic people and arts. The

    beauty of nature or the city was the second most reason, followed by good nightlife, and

    gay venues. When asked whether gay destinations appeal to them, only two respondents

    answered yes. Although most have travelled to gay destinations before, the majority of respondents did not like gay destinations.

5.6 Is gay tourism sex tourism?

Respondents were asked “gay tourism is often seen as sex tourism. Do you agree with

    this statement?” The opinions about this statement were split. About half of the

    respondents clearly confirmed that sex is the main motivation for many gay travellers,

    and thus gay tourism is sex tourism. Other responses were more elaborate, stating that it

    depends on the gay traveller, and that sex is only one reason to visit a particular

    destination. One respondent stated that gay tourism would be perceived by most people

    as sex tourism, because “if you aren’t only interested in participating in casual/open sex, 1why bother segregating yourself from anyone else?” (Ben, 24).

6. The Role of Students

For this project we were fortunate to receive funding for the employment of four research

    assistants in various roles. Three RAs supported us with literature search, and the creation

    and maintenance of a database with the programme EndNote. In addition, two RAs

    conducted a number of the interviews, both face-to-face and on msn messenger. One RA

    was employed to help with the development and testing of the online survey tool, and the

    transfer of the data into SPSS for Windows and MS Excel.

     1 All interview (face-to-face and via msn messenger) respondents received mock names in order to keep

    data confidential

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    Final Report, SSHRC Internal Seed Grant Destination Choice and Travel Behaviour of Gay Men Michael Lück, Ph.D., Dept. of Recreation & Leisure Studies, Brock University

    7. Conclusion and Future Developments

    The SSHRC Seed Grant provided me with the opportunity to develop a research agenda in the area of Gay Tourism. A literature search and review, as well as the establishment of a literature database in the programme EndNote builds the foundation of this venture.

    The next step was to conduct a small number of face-to-face and online interviews, which would help us in the development of a large-scale global Internet based questionnaire. I was happy to see Dr. Johnson Tew join me with this project, and together we worked on the development of the subsequent questionnaire. Due to some technical difficulties, this took longer than we had anticipated. However, it was launched in February 2005. Within the first few days, we received over 100 responses from gay men in many parts of the world. This initial success lets us believe that we will be able to recruit a large number of respondents with the result of a valid sample of gay men. The survey is intended to be online for the next three years, so that this longitudinal study will reveal some possible changes in the opinions and/or trends over the next few years.

    Dr. Johnson Tew and I applied for a larger External SSHRC Grant in Fall 2004. This proposed project will build on the findings of the current study. We will investigate health risk taking and HIV/AIDS of male gay travellers, as well as how successful AIDS and safe-sex campaigns of support groups are. This project is expected to be in three stages over the coming three years, ending in 2007. The SSHRC adjudication committee deemed the project as worthy, and classified it as “A4”, which means it is approved by

    SSHRC, but will not be funded due to a lack of available funds. However, Dr. Johnson Tew and I will re-apply next year, where we hope to receive funding for this project.

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    Final Report, SSHRC Internal Seed Grant Destination Choice and Travel Behaviour of Gay Men Michael Lück, Ph.D., Dept. of Recreation & Leisure Studies, Brock University

    8. Budget

     Item Amount

     Internal SSHRC Seed Grant 1200.00

     Salary RAs 1 & 2 (interviews, EndNote database) -4353.67

    Career Plus support for RAs 3265.25

    Dean’s support for RAs 1088.42

    Data recorder & tapes -86.07

    GST rebate 3.51

    SPSS licence -60.00

    Software DreamWeaver MX -172.50

    GST rebate 7.04

    Books/Journals -261.85

    Salary RA 3 (EndNote Database) -262.06

    Salary RA 4 (questionnaire development) -203.60

    Dean’s support for survey tool development 200.00

    DVD writer -229.88

    DVDs -68.98

    GST rebate 12.19

    Spartacus Gay Guide -28.21

    GST rebate 1.32

    Balance 38.72

9. Acknowledgements

I would like to thank a number of individuals who supported this project. Dr. John Corlett,

    Dean of the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, supported us with two funds to partially

    pay for the research assistants. Career Services at Brock University also paid a large

    chunk of the research assistant salaries. Thanks also to the work of Chiharu Hibino,

    Matthew Hiebert, Mark Montgomery, and Adam Krievins, who worked with me on this

    project as research assistants in various roles. A special thank-you to the participants of

    the first round of interviews, both in person and via msn messenger your input was very valuable in order to develop the questionnaire for the large online survey. Mike Laurence

    and Igor Gvero (Centre for Teaching, Learning and Educational Technologies) were (and

    are) invaluable for the technical part of the webbased survey. I gratefully acknowledge

    the funding through the SSHRC Internal Seed Grant, and Fran Chandler of Brock’s

    Research Services for her continuing support with applications for funding. Last, but

    certainly not least, I would like to thank Dr. Paula Johnson Tew, who joined me in Fall

    2004 for this project.

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    Final Report, SSHRC Internal Seed Grant Destination Choice and Travel Behaviour of Gay Men Michael Lück, Ph.D., Dept. of Recreation & Leisure Studies, Brock University

10. References

Clift, S., Callister, C., & Luongo, M. (2002). Gay Men, Holidays and Sex: Surveys of

    Gay Men Visiting the London Freedom Fairs. In C. Callister (Ed.), Gay Tourism:

    Culture, Identity and Sex (pp. 231 - 249). London: Continuum.

    Clift, S., Luongo, M., & Callister, C. (2002). Introduction. In C. Callister (Ed.), Gay

    Tourism: Culture, Identity and Sex (pp. 1 - 14). London: Continuum.

    Cox, M. (2002). The Long-haul out of the Closet: The journey from Smalltown to

    Boystown. In C. Callister (Ed.), Gay Tourism: Culture, Identity and Sex (pp. 151 -

    173). London: Continuum.

    Hall, C. M. (2001). Liminality and Marginality: Gay and Lesbian Tourism. In C. M. Hall

    (Ed.), Sex Tourism: Marginal People and Liminalities (pp. 101 - 116). London:

    Routledge.

    McIntosh, A. (1998). Mixing Methods: Putting the Tourist at the Forefront of Tourism

    Research. Tourism Analysis, 3, 121 - 127.

    Roth, T., & Luongo, M. (2002). A Place for Us 2001: Tourism Industry Opportunities in

    the Gay and Lesbian Market (An Interview with Thomas Roth of Community

    Marketing). In C. Callister (Ed.), Gay Tourism: Culture, Identity and Sex (pp. 125

    - 147). London: Continuum.

    Want, P. (2002). Trouble in Paradise: Homophobia and Resistance to Gay Tourism. In C.

    Callister (Ed.), Gay Tourism: Culture, Identity and Sex (pp. 191 - 213). London:

    Continuum.

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