The LGBT community turns to LGBT-friendly meeting destinations for its events. Thomas Roth, president of Community Marketing & Insights, a company that helps a wide variety of industries master the subtleties of the LGBT market, recommended Las Vegas as one of the key destinations with dedicated staff working to attract and serve LGBT meetings and events.
Prevue spoke with Jim McMichael, specialty markets manager for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), about why Las Vegas is considered an LGBT-friendly meeting destination and how meeting planners who plan events there can expect diversity.
What makes Las Vegas an LGBT-friendly meeting destination?
Las Vegas is a standout destination for the LGBT community because many of our resort partners value the community and make an effort to train their employees in diversity. Multiple Las Vegas hotel companies, including MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment, Wynn Resorts and The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas, have gone above and beyond and have received perfect scores on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index. These companies take the LGBT community’s inclusion and comfort seriously and provide invaluable employee training for unforgettable experiences while in the destination. Beyond the hotels, LGBT visitors can enjoy any of the variety of leisure attractions throughout the destination. Las Vegas is a place with something for everyone from fine dining to clubs to headliners popular within the LGBT community such as Elton John, Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears and Celine Dion.
How does the LVCVA work with meeting planners on organizing LGBT-friendly meetings?
The LVCVA has a dedicated person to work with diversity meeting planners. We help planners understand the destination from an LGBT perspective and provide them with the local connections necessary to host a successful meeting. We work to identify what would work best for each specific group and suggest the best course of action.
What is your No. 1 piece of advice for meeting planners looking to plan events with the LGBT market in mind?
You have to know your client. If you don’t understand the need of the particular group, a lot of mistakes will be made. It is imperative to know which subset of the LGBT community will make up the group. You wouldn’t cater to a group of gay men the same way as a predominantly lesbian or a mixed group that includes transgenders. When you take into consideration the makeup of the group, you’re able to shape other factors such as security or restroom access. Communicating this information with the hotel and attractions allows the meeting to run with little to no hiccups.
What kind of programming can meeting planners organize in Vegas that would appeal specifically to the LGBT market?
It’s important to understand that the LGBT community enjoys similar activities to what everybody else who comes to Las Vegas does. However, there are several ways to enhance the LGBT meeting experience through activity customization. One great example is getting off The Strip and taking a float trip through Black Canyon. The group can opt to have exclusive use of the raft. Other options are teambuilding events like those offered by Cirque du Soleil. The meeting planner can work with Cirque to customize the experience and have the cast interact with the group in a more understanding way. From an entertainment angle, a show buyout is an excellent choice. Divas Las Vegas, for example, has long been popular with the LGBT community. Through a buyout, the group would have exclusive use of the theater for the night, and the production can be customized to incorporate elements relevant to the group like referencing them by name. You can also look into a more historical approach. Las Vegas has a long and rich LGBT history. The Neon Museum, for example, has a docent who can work with meeting planners to ensure a tour layers in LGBT performers and relevant historical material.