Hanoi-based Luxury Travel (www.luxurytravelvietnam.com) is wooing the affluent gay and lesbian market by pushing high-end tourism products and services that are increasingly available in Vietnam.
CEO Pham Ha said though only one per cent of the company’s 10,000 luxury travel clients last year were gays and lesbians, this segment spent 20 per cent more than other luxury guests. Gays and lesbians also tend to stay longer – two to four weeks – and spend up to US$600 a day.
“A Julie and Valerie from New Orleans spent up to US$14,000 per person for a two-week trip in Vietnam,” said Pham.
Gays and lesbians often stay in top luxury hotels and resorts, spending lavishly in the properties’ F&B outlets and spas, and on romantic dinners on the beach, entertainment and little surprises for each other. Trips are rarely hectic as this market segment prefers to experience the destination at leisure.
“Hotels know how to treat their guests, but we make sure to inform hotels before our guests arrive, and call again to reconfirm arrival,” said Pham.
Given this niche’s penchant for bespoke travel experiences, Luxury Travel often lavishes even more care and attention on its gay and lesbian clients than its regular luxury travel guests.
The company trains tour guides and drivers to provide discreet and attentive service, customises each tour, and briefs guides on even the most minute detail to ensure personalised service. It keeps tabs on its guests by touching base with them every so often during the trip and also ensures that Luxury Travel representatives welcome them at every new destination.
Pham said Vietnam has been quite gay- and lesbian-friendly, with Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Hue, Hoi An and Nha Trang being far more receptive to this clientele than other parts of the country.
Catering to the pink market has opened Pham to speculation on his sexual orientation, but the married father of two quickly established: “I like women...I am not gay”.