Afrigay Travel offers holiday planning education and training to agents selling holidays to LGBTQ+ travellers around the globe. This is a go-to online service that provides all the necessary information to offer a sensitive and included service, one which brings value to travellers every step of the way.
How did the idea for your business come about?
I have spent a number of years researching the LGBTQ+ travel market. As a member of IGLTA, I have recognised a great gap in the tourism industry for LGBTQ+ Sensitivity and Awareness Training that will assist organisations to become authentically LGBTQ-friendly and welcoming.
During the hard lockdown, I developed a process that offers a solution to this problem, and have been fortunate to roll out the facilitation with Cape Town Tourism and Plett Tourism.
We are currently developing an online platform where organisations around the world can access the content and put their entire client-facing staff through the process. This online process allows for organisations and their staff to self-direct themselves through the course, gaining the same learnings, insights and changes that they would gain in a facilitated session, in their own time, keeping it private and confidential.
We are all aware that the world has a very big sense of homophobia and lack of understanding of the LGBTQ+ community. All Stay is designed to, step by step, change those negative perceptions and stereotypes, and bring the true value of the LGBTQ+ traveller to their organisation.
How did you come up with the name for your company / experience?
The company is called Afrigay Travel. It is a unique concept for South Africa (and Africa). The play on the words ‘Africa’ and ‘gay’ talks directly to the LGBTQ+ consumer. Our All Stay product (the sensitivity & awareness learning process) has a tagline: Your Travel Ally. That is exactly what our purpose is – to transform each and every organisation in the global tourism industry to become authentic allies of the LGBTQ+ community.
Whilst there are a handful of ‘change management’ companies around the world who are doing great work in the inclusivity transformation space, All Stay is the only product that focuses specifically on the tourism industry and operates in an online space.
Who is your ideal customer and why?
1. Executive level management in the tourism industry: Hotel GMs, Marketing, HR, HODs. These ideal customers are the ones who need to truly understand the value of the LGBTQ+ traveller, the growth in the segment and how to engage with them in an authentic way in order to build the brand loyalty the community are famous for.
2. Anyone in the tourism industry who engages with an LGBTQ+ traveller in a face-to-face manner: housekeeping staff, service staff, drivers, tour guides, travel agents, tour operators. In order to be completely LGBTQ-friendly, it is vital that these stakeholders not only get a good understanding of the LGBTQ+ community and their needs, but they also need to understand their own position and beliefs on the subject matter.
Whilst our aim is not to ‘change’ people’s beliefs, we are dedicated to helping those who have challenges with the community to understand them better and make their own experience with LGBTQ+ people an easier one.
It is easy to say, “we welcome everyone”. It is less easy to do it when there is a misconception and lack of knowledge. These ideal customers are the ones who will make a difference, with our help.
Why do you offer the very best experience / product for your customers?
With our focus being exclusively LGBTQ+ in Afrigay Travel and the All Stay product, our service levels and delivery is constantly top notch, and we are constantly on top of trends in the community.
The LGBTQ+ community appreciate when a company shows them support, and we are dedicated to ensuring that the travel products we sell are well researched and keep our travellers safe and welcome.
As mentioned above, our All Stay product is unique in its design and process and will take the global industry by storm because it offers a cost-effective solution, and it does what most change-management companies don’t do – take it right down the organisation to grassroots level.
All Stay also offers our clients the opportunity to access the global LGBTQ+ market directly through our soon-to-be-launched consumer portal.
What is your greatest hope for your business?
Recovery, Resilience and Growth! It has been a tough two years and I am pleased that I have managed to remain open, in spite of the obstacles that Covid brought. It can only go up, and I believe that the LGBTQ+ market, although very niche, is going to thrive.
My biggest hope is that every single tourism organisation in the world exposes their staff to getting a deeper understanding of the LGBTQ+ community so that the experience for all can become a welcoming one.
What has been the most satisfying achievement in your business?
In a recent All Stay facilitation with a few key players in Cape Town’s tourism industry, a non-LGBTQ+ gentlemen (who openly admitted that he is very much in support of the community and has no homophobic tendencies) came to me after the session and said: “If I could hug you right now, I would. Although I have always been very open-minded and accepting of LGBT people, you have helped me see how much more there is to them, and how I can change so many things in my business to make it more inclusive”.
A very satisfying moment, indeed!
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who want to get into tourism?
Do it! It may have been a terrible time for all of us, but it is the most exciting industry in the world.
As Hans Christian Anderson said: To travel is to live.
If you could have a do-over, what would you do differently?
I believe that everything happens for the right reason, at the right time. I am happy with the way my business has (is) panned out, so I wouldn’t change anything.