How to welcome LGBTQIA travelers to your property

All travelers have the right to feel safe and respected no matter where their journey takes them, how they identify, or who they love. Yet one out of every three LGBTQIA travelers fears judgement by hotel staff. Welcoming the LGBTQIA community can help you improve the lives and travel experience of people who deserve to feel safe and valued while away from home. Together, by celebrating and committing to inclusivity, we have the power to put these fears at ease. 

There are over 700,000 hotels and resorts worldwide. Every day the question becomes, how can you make your property stand out from all the rest? Making a commitment to treating LGBTQIA travelers with dignity and respect is a great first step, and showcasing your property and your commitment to equality on Expedia Group is a great second.

LGBTQIA = Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual

The benefits of being welcoming

In a recent article, we discussed how LGBTQIA community members are quite willing to travel during COVID-19, and how you can make your offering attractive to them. In this piece, we’d like to provide important tips as to how you can make those travelers who book feel most welcome.

Welcoming LGBTQIA travelers as you would any guest — with respect and equality — can help you:

  • Improve their travel experience and help you earn great guest reviews
  • Attract travelers more likely to book a stay during COVID-19
  • Win the long-term loyalty of a high-value segment of people who travel more
  • Be seen as a more inclusive property 
  • Contribute to the betterment of humanity and the tourism industry

Making travel easier and more enjoyable for LGBTQIA travelers puts you in a position to attract a lifetime of business from a huge and valuable segment of travelers. LGBTQIA travelers travel more frequently, are likely to return to travel sooner than others during COVID-19, and spent a record $218 billion dollars on travel and tourism in 2018.

Make a great first impression

First impressions matter. And great ones are made long before travelers enter your lobby. Favorable feelings start the first time they catch a glimpse of your photos in a search result, read your property description, find you in an LGBTQIA-friendly filter, or hear a rave review from a friend. 

Here’s how to help your online listing stand out to LGBTQIA travelers and make a great first impression on those researching their upcoming trip.

Provide a detailed property description and use inclusive language in your Expedia Group listing. 69% of LGBTQIA travelers say they tend to stay at a property they know is LGBTQIA friendly.

  • Highlight LGBTQIA-friendly and non-discrimination policies in place at your property and note if you enforce a zero-tolerance policy with your employees. 
  • Use Points of Interest in Expedia Group Partner Central to show your proximity to gay bars, gay beaches, and other highlighted LGBTQIA community attractions. 
  • Promote any relationship you have with local diversity-based non-profits, LGBTQIA business associations, gay tourism agencies, etc. that show your relationship to the community. If you don’t have one, get involved! Reach out to your local chamber of commerce or organize opportunities for employees to volunteer with a local organization like a homeless youth shelter. (Did you know 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQIA?) 

Make a lasting impression

Once LGBTQIA members book with you, you have the opportunity to create a great experience that will keep them coming back again and again. Keep in mind that one out of every three LGBTQIA travelers fear judgement by hotel staff, but you have the power to change that. How? By making LGBTQIA guests feel welcome when they arrive onsite.

Use visual displays to promote the inclusive policies and practices that your business embodies 

  • Approve the wearing of rainbow lapel pins and personal pronouns on name tags as part of your standard uniform.
  • Include a small (or large!) rainbow flag in the lobby or on the check-in desk to let guests know at first glance they’re valued and safe.
  • Hire and retain a diverse set of employees that represent the diverse set of travelers staying at your property. This includes gender diversity, sexual orientation, race, religion, age, ability, language, and more.

Build protocols and training for welcoming same sex couples, and transgender and nonbinary travelers

  • Make the same assumptions of a same sex couple checking in as you would any other group of travelers. For example, assume there’s only one reservation for both guests, and that one bed is preferred. 
  • Create an LGBTQIA guide of the city (your local tourism office might already have one) to help travelers find all the places they’ll feel welcome. Include the phone number and office address of the Tourism Police or trusted law enforcement should any problems arise. 

Travelers who are transgender (have transitioned from being a man to a woman or a woman to a man) or nonbinary (neither exclusively masculine nor feminine) face unparalleled levels of discrimination, harassment, and violence. It’s sad to report that 41% of transgender respondents in a state survey have attempted suicide. One way to help combat these woes is to treat every person with dignity. 

  • Don’t assume a guest’s gender unless it’s explicitly clear or they’ve told you. Instead, use generic phrases: “Good evening” versus “Good evening, Mr. Smith.” 
  • If a traveler tells you their pronouns (if they'd like to be referred to as she, him, or they), this can be entered into your PMS or record keeping. Staff should be quietly made aware of the guest’s notes and respectfully corrected if the wrong pronouns are used when referring to the guest. Include this in employee training. 
  • Provide a gender-neutral restroom in the lobby and in any onsite facilities like a restaurant, gym, or spa. Both single- and multi-occupancy restrooms can be updated to be gender neutral. Restrooms are difficult for transgender and gender nonconforming people who might be perceived by others to be in the “wrong” facility. In an American survey, 70% of transgender respondents had been verbally or physically assaulted in a public restroom.

Become LGBTQIA friendly with Expedia Group

Expedia Group would like to reward you for making the extra effort to be welcoming to all guests, committing to non-discrimination and treating LGBTQIA travelers with respect and equality. Indicate your property is “LGBTQIA friendly” by searching for “LGBTQIA” in the Amenities section of Partner Central to be recognized as such in related searches on our travel sites, including Orbitz, a trusted brand for the LGBTQIA community for over 20 years.