Pioneer in the LGBT market in Italy Alessio Virgili, sole director founder and director of the Tour Operator Quiiky, now part of Saunders & Beach Group, has achieved the 10 years goal not without facing initial prejudices on the part of retailers of Lgbt product but also by customers not ready to expose themselves to criticism.
The ten years’ activity was celebrated recently at the Hotel Radisson Blu Rome surrounded by the trade press with whom Virgili shared his success. “Today we are faced with changes in a market that has evolved to the point that we have opened the way to the competition. We have faced it by creating a unique product, the Untold History Tours (UHT), unpublished itineraries touching on known destinations/sites focused on culture for a medium-high target. A wise solution to avoid the battle of the competitor’s price and avoiding to become a market killer.
The UHT, said Virgili, tells from the little-known facts behind the scenes of eg: the Vatican Museums, of Michelangelo’s homosexuality to anecdotes about Saint Sebastian, the patron saint of gays. The UHT proposals already a success in Italy landed on the pages of the New York Times, have echoed in Greece, Berlin, Dresden, Israel, Thailand, and the South USA, the East Coast and San Francisco. Uncommon proposals attracting also LGBT tourists interested to their history identity.
These tours include the American East Coast and San Francisco on the LGBT movement traces started with Harvey Milk. Historic cities such as Massachusetts, and museums in Boston and Northampton where the gay women’s movement achieved particular significance.
In Tel Aviv, Israel, our tourists will visit the sites of memory of the homosexual victims of the Holocaust but also points of biblical stories focusing on the Platonic love of King David and Jonathan or in the place where it is assumed that existed the city of Sodom. Then Greece from Athens to Thessaloniki where homosexuality was a lifestyle not a sin. It starts from Alexander the Great to the myth of Maria Callas, a gay icon par excellence.
Qyiiky re-joined recently Visit USA, according to Quiiky an active association in doing promotions in an important market by garrisoning it with an exclusive location in San Francisco as well as those of Milan and Rome.
How the Italian market contributes?
“At present, we deal with 700 partner travel agents and 3.000 more with non-preferential rapport, explains Virgili, their sales turnover is basic: 11% of the three million Italian homosexuals talk to them while direct sales reach important numbers. The promotion is planned with our presence at trade fairs: The Gay Tourism Expo, the Show Case at Naples on 6 and 7 March, TTG in Rimini, the new Bit held from 2 to 4 April at Fieramilanocity. Performances are planned for the consumer with international DJs and drag queens. Plus two conferences on economy: one on the LGBT market of the third millennium, the other on civil unions. As an ambassador for Italy of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) I’ll attend the world convention in St. Petersburg.”
What about Quiiky economic trend?
Turnover and passengers grow evenly by 35% with distinction of the Canary Islands, Israel, and the US (East Coast, California, Florida and Key West). As for the European capitals, Berlin and Zurich are at the top for short break. Fast growing is Thailand that since last year decided to invest in the LGBT market, then Cuba and Mexico-
The turnover In 2016: 15% derived from incoming to the main destinations Milan, Rome, Naples and the Amalfi Coast while for the long holiday Sicily was the absolute protagonist.
Any planning on 2017 investment?
“The investments planned for the year 2017 are in part in collaboration with “Visit USA” for initiatives directed to the trade. While sponsorship LGBT events in Milan “La Cesira” and the Gay Village in Rome are planned for the consumer. The main effort will be focusing on social web with massive promotional campaigns also suitable for the international market”