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The rainbow suitcase: Showcasing inclusive hospitality on Booking.com

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We launched a new badge for Proud Certified properties, symbolizing their commitment to more welcoming experiences for everyone

At Booking.com, we’re committed to making it easier for everyone to experience the world. Our research tells us that more than half of LGBTQ+ travelers (53%) have had less-than-welcoming or uncomfortable experiences at a property where they were staying, underscoring the importance of understanding LGBTQ+ travelers’ needs in order to provide an inclusive stay for everyone. 

To help partners provide even more welcoming experiences for LGBTQ+ travelers, last year we introduced our Proud Hospitality education program, an online training session created to teach partners how to better connect with LGBTQ+ travelers. The training also shares practical changes and insights designed to make everyone feel more welcome. This 75-minute, free-of-charge session is the core of our Travel Proud initiative, and the first step for an accommodation provider to become a Proud Certified property on our platform.  

Initially rolling out in cities across The Netherlands, Germany, and the UK, the program has since expanded to encompass partners in the United States, Canada, France, Australia, and New Zealand. The training is currently presented in English and occasionally in French, with new territories and languages being added over the course of 2021 and into 2022. That said, all partners globally are welcome to join the training, which caters to various time zones.  

A dedicated badge for Proud Certified partners

To help partners stand out as somewhere travelers can be extra sure of a welcoming stay, we launched a dedicated badge for Proud Certified properties. After completing the education program and committing to deliver inclusive experiences by completing our declaration form, the badge will appear in the form of a rainbow suitcase on your property page, visible to travelers worldwide. Additionally, cities with multiple Proud Certified properties are currently being showcased on a designated Travel Proud page, with inclusive properties displayed to guests once they click through to a particular city. 

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Travel Proud Badge

The rainbow flag is recognized as a strong symbol for LGBTQ+ pride, flown all over the world as a gesture of solidarity. The rainbow suitcase was designed with a similar intent, an emblem partners can proudly display to help travelers find the most welcoming places to stay. Places where they can show up as their true self – no matter who they love or how they identify. 

This badge, of course, goes hand in hand with education – a necessary step in reaching inclusive hospitality standards since LGBTQ+ travelers will be quick to spot inauthentic actions. This is why it’s only awarded to partners who undertake our training. It’s another way for us to recognize the efforts you made to improve the LGBTQ+ travel experience, while enabling customers to Book Proud. 

“Everything we do at Booking.com is about enabling smoother and more enjoyable travel experiences for everyone – no matter where they come from, who they love, or how they identify,” said Arjan Dijk, CMO and Senior Vice President at Booking.com. “As a gay traveler myself, I share some of these same concerns, but also equal amounts of optimism for a better future. One in five LGBTQ+ travelers say they’re hopeful about being able to travel without restrictions or limitations in the next five years. We firmly believe we can get there together and that everyone should be able to experience the world as themselves, always.”

More welcoming stays for everyone

According to new research conducted by Booking.com, a substantial portion of LGBTQ+ travelers don’t feel like they can show up as themselves when they travel. More than half (56%) believe being LGBTQ+ impacts the decisions they make when planning a trip, while one in five (20%) have felt the need to change their behavior to avoid judgement or awkward interactions with accommodation staff or owners.

This presents the industry with a real opportunity to make the traveler experience easier, more inclusive, and more welcoming for LGBTQ+ travelers, and further highlights the importance of education. Focusing on the unique challenges and barriers that this community faces when traveling, the goal of the Proud Hospitality training is to help hospitality professionals see things from a potentially different perspective while providing practical skills and techniques that they can immediately put into practice at their property. 

Of the LGBTQ+ travelers surveyed, half (50%) highlighted that interactions with staff throughout their stays and the check-in experience (44%) are the most important factors in creating a comfortable, welcoming stay. Service paradigms that have led to awkward encounters include staff assuming guests would need separate rooms or beds when checking in as a couple (20%), and staff mistaking or incorrectly assuming pronouns or genders of travelers in communications ahead of arrival (14%). 

Educating all guest-facing staff can promote comfortable interactions, helping them feel confident in answering questions while supporting LGBTQ+ guests more fully. After completing the training, you’ll get access to our Travel Proud Customer Toolkit, which contains helpful training resources that we encourage you to share with your team to help ensure a great guest experience for every traveler.

 

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Booking Travel Proud Pool Temp Video Placement
Ready to become Proud Certified?

We're excited to be helping partners achieve Proud Certified status. Learn all about the program and how you can participate.

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Takeaway
  • More than half of LGBTQ+ travelers (53%) have had less-than-welcoming or uncomfortable experiences at a property where they were staying
  • To help you provide even more welcoming experiences for LGBTQ+ travelers, we introduced our Proud Hospitality education program 
  • Sharing practical changes and insights designed to make everyone feel more welcome, the 75-minute, free-of-charge session is the core of our Travel Proud initiative
  • After completing the training and making a commitment to deliver inclusive experiences, you become Proud Certified
  • To symbolize your commitment to inclusive hospitality, a badge in the form of a rainbow suitcase will be displayed on your property page