How can you be more inclusive to LGBTQ+ travellers?
How can we make it easier for everyone to experience the world? Every traveller, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, deserves to feel safe and welcome. For LGBTQ+ travellers, we believe the key to accomplishing this is by reassuring guests that we’re allies. A shared understanding of their needs and concerns will be critical in achieving this. Fortunately, free training programmes are available to guide you through the dos and don’ts.
The journey to inclusive hospitality
No one expects the travel industry to change overnight. But if LGBTQ+ guests can see you’re trying, you’re likely to not just win their appreciation, but also their loyalty. Our research tells us that 82% of LGBTQ+ travellers have experienced less-than-welcoming or uncomfortable experiences when travelling, 64% have to consider their safety and wellbeing, and 20% have felt the need to change their behaviour to avoid judgement or awkward interactions with accommodation staff or owners. If you can provide a safe environment where people are free to be their true selves, you’re contributing to an important positive change.
The impact of implicit bias
Everyone has unconscious biases. We are wired to notice patterns and make generalisations. It’s a natural product of the human mind. But as a consequence, we can let down people in the LGBTQ+ community.
‘Microaggressions’ such as assuming someone’s gender based on the tone of their voice at the other end of the phone, or making what you may consider to be a harmless comment about a ‘missing’ parent in a same-sex couple, can come across as judgemental and disrespectful. With a heightened awareness of these subtle, indirect, or unintentional acts of discrimination, we can be more considerate in our interactions and deliver a more inclusive service.
The unique challenges for LGBTQ+ travellers
LGBTQ+ is an inclusive term that encompasses many sexual orientations and gender identities. To ensure everyone feels comfortable while staying with you, you need to know the core issues for all sides. A simple way to show solidarity with trans and non-binary people is to provide gender-neutral toilets and ask guests (ideally) in your first interaction what their preferred pronouns are. This could be as simple as adding it as a field to your check-in form.
When it comes to people travelling together, it’s best to follow their lead instead of making assumptions about their relationship. Some same-sex couples may not want to disclose this information, and sadly, many will expect you to get it wrong. So, give your guests a pleasant surprise with the straightforward question, “Would you like one bed or two?”.
The insights and support of LGBTQ+ locals
Transparency and empathy will be invaluable as you look to implement more inclusive practices across your property. To bolster your understanding of the varying needs, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback and guidance from LGBTQ+ people in your area. Speak to the locals to get a sense for what really matters most to them, and develop a more in-depth and authentic knowledge base.
The importance of training everyone
Of course, we all strive to provide a consistently excellent service. For this to be possible with regards to inclusive hospitality, all staff members should have a shared understanding of best practices. Giving the whole team access to the same educational resources is an easy way to kick-start the change and practise what you preach – by inviting everyone to join you on the journey.
Together, we can progress towards a more inclusive travel industry, where everyone feels comfortable exploring the world.
- 64% of LGBTQ+ travellers report they have to consider their safety when exploring our world. To alleviate their concerns, we first need to understand their challenges
- It’s important to recognise how implicit bias can have an impact on our interactions with LGBTQ+ travellers. We must examine our thinking to avoid discrimination
- Inclusive hospitality is a journey. We can’t make all the changes we’d like to make instantly. But, with awareness and training, we can play an important role in enabling everyone to experience the world as their true selves