I was excited to hear that Marriott Hotels, the world’s largest hotel chain, recently launched a website catering to GLBT travelers. Marriott has long been recognized for its diversity outreach and is consistently recommended in the HRC’s annual “Buying for Equality” guide. Marriott knows well the massive buying power of the gay community, so I expected to find a slightly more robust website than what I discovered.
It’s not so much a website targeting gay travelers as a single page within the vast Marriott.com website that does little more than state that Marriott welcomes gay travelers and their dollars. I would like to see the site have more content actually devoted to gay travel. At the very least, it should show which hotels are in or near cities’ gay districts (a click of the Find a location link within the Destinations tab leads to a generic search page elsewhere on the Marriott website). I don’t see this site becoming much of a resource for gay travelers.
The launch of the website (er, webpage) comes after some activists within the GLBT community called for a boycott of Marriott Hotels because of the company’s connection with the Church of Latter Day Saints. Thirty percent of Marriott Corporation’s shares have been retained by the Marriott family. Because the Marriott family’s membership in the Mormon Church requires them to contribute a portion of their earnings to LDS, activists contend that the Church benefits from GLBT consumers’ support of Marriott. LDS’s backing of Proposition 8, banning same sex marriage in California, is well documented. Maybe the launch of this webpage is Marriott’s attempt to make nice with its gay consumers.
While the webpage is lacking a bit and the company’s impetus for launching the site is slightly dubious, it’s a start. It’s easy to find examples of GLBT targeted marketing campaigns among all of the world’s major hotel chains, but a quick survey of the Starwood, Harrah’s, and Hilton websites didn’t turn up anything devoted specifically to gay travel. So I commend Marriott for this latest attempt to target gay travelers and encourage the company to further its efforts to support the GLBT community.