Inclusive marketing: on the same page on same-sex customers

This blog has twice in the recent past noted how businessess continue to let personal preferences dictate business decisions that not only end up affecting the bottom line negatively but are often also illegal. That unfortunately seems to be the case with the perhaps slyly named restaurant chicken restaurant chain, Chick-fil-A, finds itself at the center of unwelcome national attention owing to its owners' letting personal preferences cloud business decisions.

The president of Chick-fil-A said that "the company was guilty as charged of allegations it opposed same-sex marriage.  The restaurant chain's leader, Dan Cathy said the family-owned business supported "the biblical definition of the family unit". HIs comments predictably have brought on a media firestorm for the chicken food outlet with many same-sex couples planning to stage a national "kiss-in" at Chick-fil-A restaurants on August 3rd. Other protests include one from  oston Mayor Thomas Menino who wrote the company president a letter "urging him to abandon plans to open a franchise on the city's historic Freedom Trail.  And the owner of the popular Muppet characters has ended its promotional partnership with the chain."

The chicken restaurateur has attempted to calm things down and issued a statement saying "“we have no political agenda, policy or position against anyone, especially the LGBT community" and went on to specifically point out that "we will not champion any political agendas on marriage and family." Perhaps they could have avoided the contretemps altogether had they taken a leaf out of the Marriott playbook. In Chairman Bill Marriott's personal life, marriage is something reserved for a man and a woman, a view that is not imposed either on the company's employees or customers.  In fact, he explicitly states that "We have to take care of our people, regardless of their sexual orientation or anything else." As it should be.

While Ignoring the foregoing could potentially cost Chick-fil-A lost revenue, embracing the gay marriage market, as was predicted here last September,  has brought forth millions to New York. The Financial Times reports that "Legal gay marriage has generated $259m in benefits for New York City’s economy over the past year as same-sex couples spent money on custom-made suits and gowns, catering and flowers and their guests flocked to hotels and restaurants." That ought to be self evident to any right thinking business.

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Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.

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