Handbook of LGBT Tourism & Hospitality, by Jeff Guaracino and Ed Salvato
Ed Salvato is an LGBT travel expert and co-author of the recently released Handbook of LGBT Tourism & Hospitality Marketing: A Guide for Business Practice.
He served on the Board of Directors of the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) for six years and is co-founder and chief content officer of ManAboutWorld magazine, a smartphone- and tablet-based mobile and digital gay travel magazine.
We spoke with Salvato recently about how he first got into LGBT tourism, how the New York gay scene has evolved, and what World Pride will mean to the city when it arrives in 2019—the 50th anniversary of Stonewall.
TravelPulse: How long have you lived in New York? Where are you from originally?
Ed Salvato: I’ve lived in New York since 2003, but I’m originally from Boston. I also lived for four years in Paris and five years in Los Angeles. Each city has left an influence on me.
TP: Tell us a little bit about the genesis of your LGBT writing career.
ES: Funny enough, in high school I thought I was a good writer. When I went to college, I decided to focus more on math and science than writing—so I got out of the habit and lost my confidence in writing. After graduating, I worked in software on the marketing research side of the business. I had to write reports but wasn’t very confident.
I went to business school to earn my MBA and took a course that changed my life. It was Writing for the Professions that taught me to be concise and clear in my communications.
After working for several more years in market research (with an MBA), I wanted a change. I read What Color Is my Parachute and decided that what I wanted to do was travel and tell people about my trips. Soon after this epiphany, I met the team who ran the first customer-focused gay travel magazine Out & About.
They offered me a job, I moved to L.A. and began my LGBT travel writing career.
TP: How did you launch of ManAboutWorld?
ES: My Out & About colleague Billy Kolber left the business after it was acquired by PlanetOut. I remained with the company when it merged with Gay.com and then acquired Liberty Publications (Out, Advocate and Out Traveler). At one point, I was overseeing 75% of all gay travel content in the country.
That company was hit hard in the recession of 2008, and by 2009, I was out of work. Billy and I started discussing ways to collaborate. Neither of us thought the world needed another gay travel website.
We decided to launch the first native app-based digital/mobile gay travel magazine ManAboutWorld, which released its first issue during 2012. We’ve since grown to about 31,000 app users who subscribe to our 10-issue a year publication. We offer both paid and free content.
TP: What do you see for the publication’s future?
ES: We have evolved considerably over the last two years in response to our clients’ needs. We offer consulting services for travel providers who wish to reach the lucrative LGBT travel segment. We offer services relating to content; meetings; strategy; LGBT sensitive and sales training; and more. We continue to evolve our consulting services while creating great editorial content for our readers.
TP: How would you describe LGBT life in New York? How has it changed in the last decade?
ES: While there are still many struggles ahead—for example, for transwomen of color, who continue to be victims of anti-trans crime and violence—LGBT life in New York is great. Gay people are integrated throughout society. There are still vibrant gay bars but not really many clubs.
TP: Tell us how the preparations for World Pride are going, and what are your feelings about it?
ES: World Pride is a huge deal. It will focus the attention of the entire world on LGBT New York in 2019. It’ll be a great opportunity to send a message of welcome, tolerance and inclusion to the world.
We are involved through our consulting work with NYC & Company, which is the destination marketing organization for the five boroughs of the city of New York. We are helping NYC & Company strategize on promoting and leveraging the opportunity as well as working closely as NYC & Company representatives with NYC Pride.
TP: How is New York marketing itself to the LGBT traveler today?
ES: NYC doesn’t market to different segments like LGBT travelers vs. non-LGBT travelers. ManAboutWorld is helping NYC customize its content and promotional efforts to incorporate LGBT travelers’ sensitivities and interests—but in a way that integrates LGBT travelers into the efforts NYC & Company does for all its visitors.
TP: When you want to venture elsewhere in the world, what are your favorite LGBT-friendly places?
ES: I love Provincetown, Massachusetts. In fact, I am currently working there for part of the summer. It’s one of the oldest LGBT friendly places on the planet, having attracted artists in the late 1800s. People always felt comfortable, welcome and safe here.
In a post-Orlando world (where scores of young LGBT and straight people were killed by an anti-gay terrorist), safe havens are more important than ever. I also love Key West, though it’s not as gay-popular as it once was. It still retains its quirkiness. Ft. Lauderdale and Palm Springs both have large LGBT populations and have been attracting retiring baby boomers in large numbers, so they should be gay for years to come. I also love Mykonos and Ibiza.
Reviewed by Paul Heney