Almost half of LGTBQ+ travellers report that they have experienced some form of discrimination when travelling, according to new research from Booking.com.
The study, which surveyed 3,052 LGBTQ+ travellers across three continents, shines new light on attitudes, concerns and travel preferences, as well as past stay experiences, current realities and hopes for a more inclusive travel future.
The data comes as Booking.com unveils a new Proud Hospitality training program for its accommodation partners.
Part of a “Travel Proud” initiative, the 75-minute training session program will allow accommodation providers to become a “Proud Certified” property, allowing potential guests to see that they are in a welcoming space.
Almost half (44%) of Canadian LGBTQ+ travellers have experienced some form of discrimination when travelling, the study claims.
Furthermore: 68% say they consider their safety and wellbeing as a Canadian LGBTQ+ traveller when picking a destination and 60% believe that travelling as part of the LGBTQ+ community means that some destinations are off limits.
These extra considerations for LGBTQ+ people extend across the entire planning and travel journey for more than half of those surveyed: 55% of Canadian respondents believe being LGBTQ+ impacts the decisions they make when planning a trip, with 49% saying that it has affected their destination bucket list.
Over half (55%) report that being LGTBQ+ impacts who they choose to travel with and 56% indicate that travelling as an LGTBQ+ person impacts how they behave with their significant other when travelling together.
Signs of progress
While the research exposes concerns that weigh on the minds of some LGBTQ+ travellers, there are also signs of progress in the industry.
Of the LGBTQ+ travellers surveyed, 91% of Canadian respondents believe that the majority of travel experiences they’ve had so far have been welcoming.
Despite the barriers and challenges that remain, this underscores an “underlying optimism amongst LGBTQ+ travellers” and a “growing opportunity” for the travel industry to do even better to create more welcoming experiences for everyone, the research says.
The research exposes some of the awkward situations that LGBTQ+ travellers sometimes find themselves in: 43% have had less-than-welcoming or uncomfortable experiences at a property where they were staying, including:
- One in five (20%) have had staff assume they would need separate rooms or beds when checking in as a couple.
- 22% have felt the need to change their behaviour – and 15% to change their appearance – to avoid judgement or awkward interactions with accommodation staff or owners.
- 21% have experienced staff or accommodation owners at check-in incorrectly assuming their relationship to their travel companion/companions.
- 14% have experienced unwelcoming or uncomfortable experiences while dining at hotel or accommodation restaurants.
- 18% have felt uncomfortable to ask for LGTBQ+ friendly local tips or recommendations
But some of the positive experiences include:
- One in three (37%) have experienced a great first impression on arrival such as welcome drinks and/or friendly staff.
- Nearly a third (31%) have had friendly and informative correspondence with the property ahead of arrival/check-in.
- 29% have received guidance/information to the local area during their stay, with 25% being offered this at check-in.
- 21% have been offered LGBTQ+ specific advice or guidance on the area during their stay, with almost one in five (18%) receiving this at the time of check-in.
Still: “…a substantial portion of the global population doesn’t feel like they can show up as themselves when they travel, says the company, which believes this presents the industry with a “real opportunity to make the travel experience easier, more inclusive and more welcoming” for LGBTQ+ travellers and for everyone.
Proud Certified partners
Booking.com’s new Proud Hospitality training program will focus on the unique challenges and barriers that LGBTQ+ travellers face when travelling.
“The goal of the training is to help hospitality professionals see things from a potentially different perspective and provide some practical skills and techniques that they can immediately put into practice,” the company said in a release.
Proud Certified partners who complete the course will receive a Travel Proud badge on their property page to show potential guests that they can rely on a welcoming experience.
Cities with multiple Proud Certified properties will also be showcased on a designated Travel Proud page, where travellers can learn more about the initiative, as well as find and book properties that are Proud Certified.
“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 traveller myself, I share some of these same concerns, but also equal amounts of optimism for a better future.”
The training, developed in partnership with HospitableMe, is available free of charge to property partners and includes access to additional resources, such as a Travel Proud Customer Toolkit, which Proud Certified properties are encouraged to make available to all guest-facing staff.
The program is now available in English and rolling out to partners in the United States, Canada, the UK, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand, with new territories and languages being added throughout 2021 and into 2022.
Click here to learn more.