With the Travel Proud program expanding to an additional 21 cities across Germany, The Netherlands, and The United Kingdom, more partners have the opportunity to become Proud Certified on our platform. Bruno Ducasse, Group Leisure Sales Manager at Valor Hospitality, and Patrick Brand, Owner of Spinoza Suites, recently completed the Proud Hospitality training. We spoke with both partners about their training experience and the key insights they took away.
Delivering the best experience – for every guest
For Spinoza Suites’ Brand, the motive to sign up for the program stemmed from his desire to ensure an inclusive stay experience for every guest. “As a host, you want to be guest-driven and put yourself in their position,” he says. “It’s important to be aware and conscious about what different communities think and prefer so that you can give all guests the best experience possible. The more information you have about different guests beforehand, the better you can prepare yourself, which is part of delivering excellent service.”
While increasing awareness was a key motive for Valor Hospitality’s Ducasse—who believes “it’s a given that all staff should undertake inclusion training”—undergoing the training was also a strategic decision. “If we have the right content, with the right description and images, we can show the community that our properties are inclusive,” he says. “If we deliver a great experience where all guests feel welcome, the reviews will trigger other bookings. On top of that, becoming Proud Certified further helps us appeal to the LGBTQ+ market.”
Welcoming the traveler of the future
The LGBTQ+ travel market is continuing to grow and is predicted to include 180 million travelers by 2030, according to UNWTO. By ensuring these travelers feel welcome, hosts can encourage repeat bookings.
Additionally, Ducasse points out how important inclusive hospitality is to future markets: “I learned that more than 50% of Gen Z doesn’t classify as totally straight, and over half know someone who goes by gender-neutral pronouns. That information is key for us as marketers because the more we understand future markets, the more we can impact them and deliver what the customer expects from us. This is the future – if you aren’t aware of it, you may be missing out.”
While Brand strongly agrees that there’s a commercial opportunity attached to the LGBTQ+ community, he adds that this shouldn’t be the main focus for hotel and property managers. “Commercially, this training can help property managers become more aware and understand their guests better, which will improve their product,” he says. “But it should start with the belief that you want to serve your guests in the best way. That’s the type of realness that most guests are searching for now.
“I’m interested in the topic because I want to offer the best experience for all of my guests. At the same time, if it serves me commercially and increases my visibility in the market, then it’s a win-win.”
During the training, partners can expect to learn how to better connect with LGBTQ+ travelers. From marketing tips to communication advice, participants will walk away with a variety of actionable insights.
“Even being part of the community, I learned a lot, especially when it comes to communicating in the right way,” says Brand. “For example, I no longer use gender identity terms—such as “sir” or “madam”—in my correspondence. Instead, I use more general terms like the guest’s first name to ensure they feel welcome from the outset. And If I’m unsure of how a guest would like to be addressed, I simply ask.”
For eligible properties to become Proud Certified, at least one team member will need to complete the training. For partners wondering who to nominate, Ducasse recommends front office managers or other guest-facing roles. “They would especially benefit from this training because their role gives the guest their first impression upon arrival,” he says. “When the first guest encounter is a negative one, it’s very difficult to get it back. It’s important to make a great impression as soon as a guest walks through your doors.”
- In October 2020, the Travel Proud program expanded to an additional 21 cities across Germany, The Netherlands, and The United Kingdom – offering more partners the chance to become Proud Certified
- From communication advice to marketing tips, partners undertaking the Proud Hospitality training can expect to walk away with actionable insights
- The LGBTQ+ travel market is continuing to grow and is predicted to include 180 million travelers by 2030, according to UNWTO