Why is LGBTQ+ Recognition Important for Hotels?

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It’s no surprise hotels have long found LGBTQ+ travellers commercially appealing. Pre-pandemic, Americans were found to take up to 2 vacations a year compared to an average of 5.5 for LGBTQ travellers: with higher disposable income, holidays are a key preferred area to spend it.  

Chasing the ‘pink pound’ (or dollar) led many businesses to proclaim to be LGBTQ+ travel friendly, but the recent backlash around the commercialisation of Pride events and ‘rainbow washing’ highlights the continued need for impartial assessment of companies, to help provide a point of differentiation for hotels and recognise those that are true allies. 

Getting your engagement right with the LGBTQ+ community is important to benefit from a market that is worth in excess of USD$218bn to the travel industry.

Why hotels should want to be LGBTQ+ recognised

The world is – slowly, but surely – waking up to the importance of a holistic Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy, and LGBTQ+ support often falls under this umbrella, alongside other important considerations such as environment and community action. 

With 69% of our community preferring to stay at hotels that are recognised as LGBTQ+ welcoming, accreditation is increasingly important in signposting where LGBTQ+ travellers will feel most comfortable and included.

For hoteliers, the pros of LGBTQ+ recognition extend beyond appealing to potential guests. There are tangible business benefits. 

London School of Economics study found companies with “LGBTQ+-friendly policies are more profitable and have higher stock market valuations.” Promoting LGBTQ+ inclusion provides companies the additional benefits of “a more diverse, engaged, and productive workforce, improved customer relationships, and a strengthened reputation as socially responsible corporate citizens.” It can open access to further resources such as financing, as well as human capital – attracting and retaining staff. 

Accreditation helps as part of a bigger picture

At World Rainbow Hotels, we’re proud to be the first and only GDS accredited LGBTQ+ consortia programme. We work with 24,000 affiliated agencies, both leisure and corporate orientated, and are a member of the prestigious National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) in the USA. 

We know first-hand that memberships and accreditation are a great way for businesses to easily communicate they are LGBTQ friendly, and there’s a range of schemes hotels can be affiliated with such as Travel Advocacy Group (TAG), the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association (IGLTA), and even the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (USA).  

But ultimately allies are not determined by a piece of paper; indeed, a study by travel publication Skift found an inclusive atmosphere is key – even more than certifications, it’s about the welcome a traveller receives. It’s the actions of hoteliers – from owners through to front-line staff that really prove a hotel is LGBTQ+ friendly, and help it be recognised through word of mouth around our community. 

The true meaning of hospitality

The ‘art of hospitality’ is often cited by hoteliers as their guiding star. Over time, this has come to mean delivering exceptional service, but hospitality runs deeper than that. Dictionaries define it as “the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors or strangers.” 

However, when assessing the LGBTQ+ credentials of hotels, the definition of hospitality needs to extend to staff and wider community involvement. 

At World Rainbow Hotels, we assess over 120 key metrics before adding a hotel to our collection, including the hotel’s location and characteristics, knowledge of the local gay-scene, involvement with the LGBTQ+ community, and work environment and policies for staff. It’s not important to fly a rainbow flag; an LGBTQ+ traveller’s holiday experience – just like those of the cisgender community – is shaped more by the ability of a hotel’s staff to provide meaningful recommendations to individual guests. 

Gaining your gay profile

It’s not enough for hotels to simply label itself ‘LGBTQ+-friendly’, and while an accreditation will help you demonstrate you tick all the boxes, what’s most important is how the property is marketed to LGBTQ+ travellers and how it delivers on their expectations. 

Beyond formal industry accolades, it’s important to invest in reviews and feedback from LGBTQ+ guests, invite LGBTQ+ influencers to experience the property, and engage with key LGBTQ+ travel media to share your hotel’s values with the community. LGBTQ+ travellers pay attention to brands that pay attention to them – not just as a one-off, but a consistent show that care of and consideration for the LGBTQ+ community is clearly part of the fabric of the hotel’s operations and guest experiences.

Learn more about how hoteliers can join our LGBTQ+ hotel collection, and how travel professionals can book gay friendly hotels on the GDS