Travel companies should think more carefully about the language they use, and must be wary of making assumptions.
This was among some of the advice offered by speakers at Proud Experiences in New York.
Explaining that LGBT+ travellers previously had to make a point of asking for things such as a double bed, Rick Stiffler, vice-president, leisure sales at Preferred Hotels and Resorts, told delegates: “We [the LGBT+ community] tolerated that a few years ago but we’re not tolerating that any more. Don’t make the customer have to ask you for things.
“But also you can’t assume that someone is part of the community,” he added. “If two men are checking in, they could be friends or brothers. It’s about attention – if you have two men checking in, make sure you’ve got two larger sized dressing gowns and slippers in the rooms.”
Stiffler also urged companies to consider what complaints procedures they have in place. “How do you handle a complaint if someone comes to complain that there are two men kissing by the pool? If you say you’re a gay-welcoming hotel, you have to mean that.”
Elsewhere, Tyronne Stoudemire, vice-president Global Diversity and Inclusion Hyatt Corporation urged delegates to think more carefully about their language when speaking to guests, using the word “partner” for instance rather than making assumptions about someone having a “husband or wife”.
“You can always apologise for something you said, but you can’t apologise for how it made someone feel.”
Stoudemire also flagged the use of the word “tolerance” when talking about equality. “Can we not use that word?” he urged delegates. “Tolerance is a bad word – who wants to be tolerated? Let’s talk about acceptance instead.”