Travel firms should think about the “little touches” they can make to support the LGBT+ community, because these can go an incredibly long way.
That was the plea from a panel of industry experts at Proud Experiences, an annual B2B conference for premium and luxury travel suppliers and buyers targeting the LGBTQ+ global community.
Darren Burn, founder of LGBT-friendly luxury travel agency OutofOffice.com, referenced the small touches he had experienced as a gay traveller – and the difference it had made.
“I went to a bar in Mexico and there was a small sign on it stating: ‘We welcome everyone, regardless of sexuality’, and it just automatically made me feel welcome. Little touches can be huge,” he told delegates.
Rick Stiffler, vice-president of leisure sales at Preferred Hotels and Resorts agreed, adding that companies shouldn’t feel afraid to display the rainbow flag. “It means a lot to a lot of people, and when I see the rainbow flag on a bar or restaurant, it means a lot to me.”
Tyronne Stoudemire, vice president Global Diversity and Inclusion Hyatt Corporation, urged companies to go further and to move “beyond the rainbow flag”.
“Diversity and inclusion is not something that can be achieved quickly, it’s a journey,” he pointed out, “and we have to continue to move beyond the flag."
"It’s not about money, it’s about doing the right thing,” he added.
Meanwhile, Gregg Kaminsky, founder of US-based travel agency R Family Vacations, urged fellow travel agents to do more to help the LGBT+ community when travelling.
“Don’t wait for the cruise line or hotel to contact you or speak to your client when they arrive – send an email to the hotel or cruise line yourself and say that Mr and Mr X are coming onboard and to get the bed type set up.
“As a travel advisor, that’s your job to contact them,” he added. “We need to be proactive.”