Members of the LGBTQ+ community often face additional challenges while traveling. The nature of these issues depends on where guests are going, who they travel with, and how they identify and present themselves, but they continue to be a source of concern for many. It doesn't matter.
As an industry, we are not only aware of these issues and concerns, but we are committed to helping all travelers, not just LGBTQ+ travelers, feel safe, comfortable and welcome. You have to be proactive.
Why inclusivity in the workplace matters
Guest inclusiveness often evolves from staff inclusiveness.
Before joining Accor, I worked as a drag queen for 6 months in the Spanish hospitality industry. It was a very enjoyable job, but I worried that when I returned to Australia, I would have to seal off that part of my life in order to pursue a 'real career'. Luckily, however, those worries were cleared when I joined Accor.
Not only did Accor accept that part of me, but it was such a wonderful thing. So instead of trying to hide who I am, I was able to be myself at work. People have embraced my drag persona, and I've done site visits and hosted events for clients in drag.
From the beginning, this company accepted me for who I am.
Leaders who lead by example
Our CEO, Sarah Derry, is very passionate about all types of inclusivity and diversity, and I am a member of our Diversity & Inclusion Committee. This kind of senior leadership involvement helps drive forward efforts to create real change. For example, we have policies that allow staff to take paid and unpaid leave to help them affirm their own gender.
This kind of leadership also helps us when we are involved in events such as Sydney World Pride 2023, a spectacular 17-day celebration. Over 50,000 people marched across the Sydney Harbor Bridge at the event, and we were truly part of the community by creating a new logo and participating in various events around the city.
Because we've been so inclusive of our colleagues and the broader LGBTQ+ community, it's even easier to equip our guests in the same way.
Three Factors for Providing a More Inclusive Experience for LGBTQ+ Guests
At a high level, I believe there are three key elements to creating an inclusive experience for your guests:
Many people have some fear that asking questions of people who are different from them will be viewed as ignorant or offensive. In fact, you can ask questions as long as they are in good faith.
For example, when confirming your preferred bed type, it's perfectly fine to simply ask, "I have booked a room with a queen bed. Are you sure it's correct?" This question is factual and one you could ask any guest.
This type of questioning is far more critical than the more critical "Are you sure?" question asked by a colleague of mine on a past trip with a male same-sex partner. Good.
In addition to these communication methods, it is necessary to ensure that communication can be done safely within the company. In other words, you need an atmosphere where you can talk to your manager about how to handle situations that you are not sure about. Staff will be trained so that they have the skills and knowledge to communicate with the right intent in all situations.
For example, we have set a goal for all Accor properties in Australia and New Zealand to be certified by Booking.com's 'Travel Proud' programme .
この点で「Travel Proud」プログラムは弊社に役立っています。なぜなら、Booking.comのユーザーは、弊社の宿泊施設すべてで「Travel Proud」のラベルが表示されていることから、心から快適だと思える体験を得ることができると分かるからです。
私が今取り組んでいることのひとつは、he / sheなどの代名詞や、Mr. / Mrs. / Ms.などの敬称をよりインクルーシブな形にすべく、弊社の予約システムを改善することです。これは、世界中の宿泊施設とお客様が関わってくるグローバルな予約システムであるため、当然のことながら、変更を加えることは一筋縄ではいきません。しかし、このような対応を適切に行うことは、弊社との体験が始まる第一段階から、ゲストに安心感はもちろん、ありのままの自分が歓迎されていると感じていただきたいという弊社の想いを発信することに繋がるのです。
Not 100% of the time everything works out, but it means a lot to be seen to be working hard.
Ultimately, the most important thing is to act professionally.
Our job in the hospitality industry is to put the customer first. In other words, it is important to focus on thinking about what is best for the customer in any situation, without being bound by your own thoughts and opinions.
This, of course, applies to all guests, and that's the point. In other words, true inclusiveness is about showing everyone a sense of warmth, care and welcome in every interaction.
- We need to make sure that all travelers, not just LGBTQ+ travelers, feel safe, comfortable and welcome.
- At Accor, inclusion is a core value, and by starting from the top, we empower everyone to be themselves in their work.
- Communication is a key component of a more inclusive experience. Training helps equip staff with the skills and knowledge to interact with the right intent in all situations.
- Visibility is equally important. Showing effort is just as important as responding appropriately.
- Finally, you can help everyone feel included while traveling by being professional in all interactions, especially with LGBTQ+ guests.