The leading global travel networking association - ONBC: Out Now Business Class release findings from the new 2015 edition global LGBT tourism report from the LGBT2020 research initiative at a special Masterclass for the tourism industry being presented at World Travel Market on Wednesday November 5. The research asked respondents to indicate which destinations they plan to visit next year from a list of more than 300 separate locations. The new LGBT2020 research reports on the 2015 travel plans now being made by LGBT people living in key global LGBT markets - and the findings have uncovered a number of surprises. According to the CEO of Out Now Global Ian Johnson – the new data release delivers much actionable information to better inform the tourism industry for 2015. “Successful travel campaigns are guided by the best data and ONBC is committed to extending the leading-edge of global tourism research with these latest LGBT2020 research findings which contain important implications for the industry,” Johnson says. Darren Cooper, Senior Consultant with Out Now Global, also announced at World Travel Market this week that membership in the ONBC: Out Now Business Class global LGBT travel association will now be free-of-charge. “We don’t think the industry should be expected to pay annual membership fees to educate, network and connect to do business with other travel association members,” Cooper said. “So from this week we are removing the cost for annual membership in ONBC. We have built the world’s best travel association network for LGBT tourism development and we are delighted to open our global ONBC system for the industry to join and unlock the best ways to increase sales in LGBT travel. We are especially pleased to announce this at WTM – which for nine years now has shared Out Now’s leadership vision for the ongoing development of LGBT travel.” ONBC membership is available by applying online and is now free-of-charge. Global LGBT tourism is an increasingly competitive market. LGBT2020 research shows the market is now valued in excess of USD$200 billion in annual spending and as well as needing to offer strong tourism product, delivered with genuine LGBT-welcoming service, Johnson said the new research reveals that this needs to be supported by ongoing campaign which focus meaningfully on consumers to grow market share in the LGBT market. “One of the key points in the new data is to understand that the LGBT market pays close attention to marketing directed at them and especially takes notice of consistency – or lack of it - in destinations’ marketing initiatives,” Johnson says. “The strongest improvement in the global LGBT2020 preferred destinations league table over the past four years has been achieved by the city of Berlin. Moving up a position or two in this table is competitive - so it is a highly significant accomplishment to move from number 20 most desired city back in 2011 to now be positioned at number 10 most desired destination for the 2015 travel plans of LGBT people. The tourism office of that city has consistently committed to undertaking ongoing marketing activities for 12 years now, which Out Now has also helped to deliver – year-in and year-out, using well-research marketing strategies to implement tactics effectively. They have not missed a year and view LGBT tourism marketing as a part of core business – and these results vindicate their approach.” Johnson also emphasised the importance of staff training to achieving strong welcoming outcomes for LGBT guests. “The number one motivating factor for consumers is needing to know before they go that they can relax and be comfortable being themselves on holidays,” Johnson says. “Nobody wants to worry that the staff that serve them in a location might be uncomfortable with their sexual orientation or gender identity. People would prefer to stay elsewhere. By incorporating ONBC staff training as a component of their overall strategy Berlin has not only promoted their products with effective communications – they have delivered on their promise to welcome their LGBT guests. Moving so far up the table from such a lower base is really hard work and Berlin should take a lot of pride in the results their consistency has yielded.” The top three global destinations are New York, Sydney and Amsterdam (- which has also improved its position, but from a higher initial starting position than Berlin). For countries results of where LGBT people plan to visit in 2015, the USA remains in first position, followed by France (no change from 2011) with Australia the biggest gainer, moving from position 7 to 3 over the past four years. The biggest drops have been by Spain (falling 5 places since 2011) and Argentina, which has dropped out of the Top 10 countries entirely. “Spain and Argentina underscore the vital need for consistency and ongoing connections with LGBT customers being the central campaign focus,” Johnson says. “Given Spain’s economic crisis it is completely understandable their tourism office needed to pull back on budgets. But Argentina seems to be a different case entirely as significant tourism budgets appear to have been invested but the results for the country, based on the LGBT2020 travel intention results, are poor. Spending appears to have been on non-consumer-focused expenditures rather than being spent on creating and delivering effective campaigns targeting LGBT consumers directly. Argentina falling out of the top ten is a terrible shame as their tourism product is great and the tourism office appears to have invested significantly – but poorly targeted spending might explain such poor results for the country.” Download the report at LGBT2020 Related Link: World Travel Market 2014