Everyone should feel comfortable and relaxed when travelling, but our research has shown that 82% of LGBTQ+ travellers report less-than-welcoming or uncomfortable experiences when travelling.
While most partners would never do anything to intentionally offend guests, there are many small things – from outdated forms to incorrect assumptions – that can cause even the most well-meaning of hosts to accidentally stumble.
That’s why we launched our Travel Proud programme – to help partners provide even more welcoming experiences to LGBTQ+ travellers.
Making it easier for everyone to experience the world
Our Travel Proud programme is designed to help you meet the specific needs and preferences of LGBTQ+ travellers.
The programme features a free online training and a toolkit of resources – including a workbook, templates and social media assets – to help you offer guests the most comfortable and welcoming environment possible.
“At Booking.com, we believe everyone should be able to experience the world as themselves, always,” says Arjan Dijk, CMO and Senior Vice President at Booking.com. “Travellers from the LGBTQ+ community ultimately want the same as everyone else and the industry needs to make welcoming experiences the norm for everyone. As a gay traveller myself, I’ve faced barriers to travel and discrimination but have also witnessed progressive change over the years. By taking action to pave the way for a more inclusive industry, we hope to set the stage for wider change that will up the standard of travel for everyone.”
The programme first piloted in cities across The Netherlands, Germany and the UK, but has since expanded to partners in the United States, Canada, France, Australia, New Zealand, Spain and Spanish-speaking Latin America.
Previously only available in English, as well as English with French subtitles, we’re pleased to be expanding our training even further, with the addition of Spanish and German versions – and even more languages to come later in the year.
We wanted to celebrate this expansion, and when we were looking for a suitable destination there was one clear choice – Spain.
Our Travel Proud event in Madrid
Spain is obviously an important destination in tourism, but what is perhaps less well known is how much the country tries to actively support the LGBTQ+ community. In fact, Madrid is home to one of the largest Pride events in Europe.
That meant we had overwhelming support from the wider tourism industry while organising the launch event, and a host of important attendees including the President of Paradores, the Director General of TourSpain, the CEO of Ilunion Hotels, and the Director of Innovation, Education and Investment programmes at the UN World Tourism Organisation.
We also went even further and signed an official Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Tourism, demonstrating a clear intent from both sides to work together to create welcoming environments for LGBTQ+ travellers.
“We're closing this virtuous circle by means of leadership and ambition," says Reyes Maroto, Minister of Tourism. "Tourism provides life-changing experiences, but it should also act as a beacon. Our goal is that this initiative by Booking.com and TourSpain not only creates waves within this room, but also beyond popular destinations like Madrid and Barcelona - which know about this already - to reach world tourism destinations in general."
Also speaking at the event, Natalia Bayona, Director of Innovation, Education and Investments at UNWTO, pointed out that “LGBTQ+ tourism is one of the fastest-growing segments since 2020 at 10% interannual rate worth $165bn in expenses. But the best of it is that it is disrupting the sector through innovation and entrepreneurship with hundreds of startups offering novel services.”
Of course, all the attendees recognised that supporting LGBTQ+ travellers goes well beyond the economic figures. It’s about helping to create more open and inclusive societies, where everyone feels safe to travel and explore new places while feeling comfortable enough to be themselves.
That’s why we also heard the story of Ángela Ponce, the first transgender woman to become Miss Universe Spain in 2018, who shared why inclusive hospitality is so important.
Want to become Proud certified? It’s just three steps
We’re expanding Travel Proud to make it as easy as possible for more partners to offer LGBTQ+ travellers the same level of care as they would any other guest.
We know that so many of you already welcome and accept all guests. But travellers don’t know that, unless you tell them. The Travel Proud certification is a declaration of who you are, which tells guests that it’s safe to be who they are.
It’s free to sign up, offers your accommodation another way to stand out and is simple too, with just three steps:
- Have at least one team member complete the Proud Hospitality training and be your property’s Proud Certified representative
- Commit to putting into practice what you learn and identifying ways to help your team deliver an inclusive experience
- Make the Travel Proud Customer Toolkit available to all customer-facing team members at your property, to support them in answering questions from LGBTQ+ guests
After completing the training and signing the declaration form, your commitment to inclusive hospitality will be showcased as a special banner on your property page. This tells LGBTQ+ travellers that your door is open to them and they can be sure of a welcoming, comfortable and safe stay.
- 82% of LGBTQ+ travellers report less-than-welcoming or uncomfortable experiences when travelling
- Travel Proud is our free, industry-leading programme to help partners offer a warm, welcoming experience for all travellers
- The programme has expanded to now include training in Spanish, with additional languages coming soon