As Travel Resumes, Resorts and Hotels Welcome LGBTQ Travelers

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday June 25, 2021

As the pandemic wanes, the world opens up, and tourism recommences, resorts and hotels have begun embracing LGBTQ travelers as never before, Business Insider reports.

Cultivating the LGBTQ demographic will be crucial as travel and tourism make a comeback following the ravaging effects of COVID-19 shutdowns. Business Insider examined how hotel chains and resorts go beyond rainbow labeling and put some serious thought, infrastructure upgrades and staff training.

Often, inclusive hospitality lies not just with a welcoming and non-judgmental attitude from staff, but also with small but noticeable things like two shaving mirrors that accompany dual sinks in the bathroom, as at South African safari lodge Cheetah Plains, the article pointed out.

And while lawmakers in some U.S. states trip over each other in a race to pass transphobic legislation, some properties are taking pains to extend trans and non-binary guests the courtesy of gender-neutral restrooms, like those found at Contiki's Chateau De Cruix in the French Beaujolais region... or, closer to home, Kimpton's Winston-Salem property, the Kimpton Cardinal, in North Carolina, home of the nation's most notorious "bathroom bill."

Business Insider also noted that curious and intrepid LGBTQ travelers have begun exploring beyond familiar queer destinations, quoting David Paisley "of CMI, an LGBTQ+-focused consumer-research firm," as saying, "LGBTQ+ people who did travel over the last year went to smaller places, to outdoors and adventure locations, which introduced them to be a whole new group of destinations.

"It will be interesting to see how that influences LGBTQ+ travel over the long run," Paisley added.

As more diverse sojourners venture to those new destinations, forward-looking resorts are training staff to greet and look after them.

Enter Queer Destinations. Founded by Oriol Pamies, the company offers training specific to meeting, greeting, and ensuring that guests from across the rainbow spectrum experience genuine hospitality.

Hoteliers who are serious about hosting diverse sojourners need to "have LGBTQ+ people visible in marketing materials," the article noted. After that, Pamies recommends "a reservation process where options for gender are not restricted to male and female, as well as the ability to use any title you wish."

As with other areas of life and business, LGBTQ people are doing the work as well as having some fun. Business Insider cited the experience of Simon Mayle, "a co-founder of Proud Experiences, an LGBTQ+ travel conference," who, as part of both the travel and LGBTQ communities, was well suited to notice the smallest of hospitality-related details — such as how staff at Brazilian luxury resort Belmond Hotel das Cataratas provided two pairs of flip-flops, both in men's sizes, in the couple's room.

"I was blown away by the fact they'd noticed and paid attention," Mayle told the publication. "It wasn't about saying, 'We're a gay-friendly hotel,' but just having staff at the front line empowered, conscious, and able to make that change at a moment's notice."

No one needs to be a travel pro to notice genuine inclusivity and a welcoming attitude that runs deeper than a rainbow facade. But beyond questions of professionalism in the hospitality sector, there's profitability around consciously cultivating an LGBTQ clientele, whose global purchasing power totals $3.7 trillion per year. How much of that goes toward travel? A lot: $65 billion just in the U.S., the article said, citing LGBT Capital.

Moreover, making hospitality more inclusive is a sustainable long-term adaptation. The article noted a generational shift in people's comfort level when it comes to living authentically. "A recent study by Hornet and Kantar Consulting found that 8% of boomers identified as LGBTQ+, while 31% of centennials, Gen Z, do — or almost one-third of respondents," Business Insider detailed.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.