The rising demand for stringent health and safety protocols isn’t the only change that the hospitality industry has undergone in recent times. There is also a strong call emerging for greater equality and inclusion regarding all types and groups of travellers, and particularly those from the LGBTQ+ community.
Hotels and other travel suppliers are actively transforming their approaches to welcoming and delighting guests and are doing their utmost to celebrate differences and diversity. The focus is on making all travellers, regardless of race, age, gender, or sexual orientation, feel welcomed and acknowledged.
Plenty of hotels, guest houses, and other travel suppliers from around the globe have their own unique approaches to ensuring a feeling of inclusivity for the LGBTQ+ guests. Tyronne Stoudemire, Global Vice President Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) at Hyatt shares details about how the hotel chain prioritises embracing everyone.
“Diversity, equity and inclusion has been a part of our DNA since conception. Our purpose is to care for people so they can be their best. We follow an evidence-based diversity strategy. Ultimately, we know that we have to listen in order to be successful. You cannot take action until you know exactly what is needed in order to do better,” says Tyronne.
“People shouldn’t feel as though they are simply stepping into a hotel. They are welcoming us into their lives, and it needs to come across that way. How does a hotel achieve this? It extends across the customer journey, but a great place to start is to prioritise identity and focus on using the correct pronouns, addressing guests how they want to be addressed,” he adds.
Sherwin Banda, President at Africa Travel Inc. also shared how the establishment has built their ever-advancing DEI strategy since 2014.
“For a long time now, diversity and inclusivity have been the cornerstones of our business. We endeavour to protect our guests and provide a welcoming environment for our staff. The main goal is to encourage feelings of hope, inclusion, and empowerment amongst everyone who interacts with Africa Travel Inc. We also feel strongly that our workplace should be a direct reflection of the community in which we live,” he says.
So, how can hospitality professionals provide more respectful, welcoming service for all? According to Kenny Porpora Co-Founder Hospitable ME, it’s not simply about treating everyone the ‘same’ as that doesn’t necessarily provide everyone with an equal experience.
“Members of the LGBTQ+ community are so used to being deemed ‘other’, hearing ‘no’, and running into an array of challenges when travelling. Therefore, it’s particularly powerful to be welcomed with a strong sense of respect, generosity, understanding, and care.” comments Kenny.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Use inclusive imagery and inclusive language in all marketing efforts.
- Install inclusive welcoming signs and imagery inside and outside your business premises, such as the LGBTQ+ rainbow flag.
- Implement inclusive systems and protocols.
- Use correct pronouns to help make people feel seen and safe. A good idea is to update your systems to collect preferred pronoun information from your guests as part of the booking or registration process.
- Place staff pronouns on tags, on websites, email signatures, and social media to help normalise the use of all pronouns.
- Never make assumptions of your guests based on just by looking at them.
- Follow guests’ lead on relationships or pronouns – it’s important to let them dictate the language that should be used.
- Fix misinterpretations with ease. If you make a mistake with a pronoun or a relationship, simply offer a warm apology and ask how you can do better. Show gratitude for the correction that you receive.
- Focus on respect. If your heart and mindset are in the right place, you can’t go wrong.
- Don’t be afraid to ask if you are unsure. Don’t shy away from uncomfortable questions.
- Foster diversity in your organisation.