This past week Ihave been in Buenos Aires attending the third annual gay and lesbian travel conference hosted by GNetwork360 and a raft of global sponsors. I was invited to speak on two panels: one about the evolving role of LGBTmedia today; the other one about how you know if your business or destination is gay friendly. (The panels were conducted primarily in English with interpretation into Spanish.)
When this event started three years ago, there were 200 attendees. The second year attendance swelled to over 400. This year it’s estimated that approximately 650 people attended one or more of the 14 panels by 25 panelists (from eight countries) that took place over three days at two sites. In a stroke of remarkably fortuitous happenstance, the president of the country signed into law the same-sex marriage bill during this conference, which helped build buzz.
The conference is the brainchild of Pablo DeLuca and Gustavo Noguera (pictured above on the right) who worked tirelessly the past 12 months to make this dream a reality. Whatever their Herculean efforts though, there is no way they could have achieved this dream without the collaboration of the many global sponsors. Locally, the Axel Hotel (the 48-room “hetro-friendly”boutique hotel chain, with locations in Buenos Aires, Berlin, and Barcelona) provided rooms to panelists and guests. Gay-friendly Delta flew many of the speakers.
This year government ministers (two of whom are pictured above left) provided logistical, financial, and moral support to the conference on both the city and federal-government level. Of course, the signing into law of the same-sex marriage bill is a bit of serendipitous collaboration that wasn’t planned but in some ways may be the most significant since it sends a signal to the world that Argentina supports the legal rights of its gay and lesbian citizens and welcomes LGBT visitors.
For many who work in the world of lesbian and gay travel, job satisfaction comes more from traveling the world, meeting other passionate gay travelers, and helping make the world a safer and more welcoming place for queer travelers, and less so for any personal economic benefits. Destinations, hotels, events, attractions, and other businesses interested in the gay market usually do not have huge budgets so they must create low-cost or no-cost opportunities to attract the LGBT segment. Oftent this takes the form of marketing partnerships that usually include bartering of services (or rooms or seats on a plane) for sponsorships of important events, like this conference. The ravel and hospitality industries are really industries that simply couldn’t exist without collaboration.
For gay trip-planning information about Buenos Aires, see my recent posts in GPS.OutTraveler.com.