All of your guests need to feel ‘seen’, respected and welcome—and the reality is that achieving this often requires more than just a friendly smile and efficient service. With the LGBTQ+ travel market booming, you’re likely wondering how to foster a more inclusive establishment plus how to draw in guests from this diverse community, keep them happy for the duration of their stay and ensure that they’ll feel excited about returning in the future. Read on for some tips for supporting and welcoming non-binary travellers in particular.
What does ‘non-binary’ mean?
‘Non-binary’ is a term that is used to describe someone who identifies outside the gender binary; that is, they don’t identify as solely male or solely female.
Tips for helping non-binary travellers feel welcome and respected
Most importantly, you must to teach your staff never to make assumptions about guests based on their name or the way they look. Don’t expect it to be visually apparent that someone is non-binary or cisgender. Because of this, it’s always a better approach to ask your guests (all your guests) outright how they would prefer to be addressed.
Ultimately, pronouns really do matter, so start focusing more on how you use them within your establishment. Encourage your staff to introduce themselves using their preferred pronouns (both in person and in their written communication with guests) and to display their pronouns on their name badges. This, in turn, will make it easier for your guests to disclose theirs to your staff. It can also be helpful to include a space for ‘preferred pronouns’ in your booking form so that you’re informed before your guests even arrive. If ever in doubt, it’s always advisable to use gender-neutral pronouns such as ‘they’ and ‘them’ until you receive clarification.
Be sure to re-look at your marketing material and online presence. Are you representing members of the LGBTQ+ community adequately? Do your social media visuals include not only images featuring straight couples and families with a ‘mom’ and a ‘dad’ but also snaps of gay couples and non-binary families? Do the words that you use in your posts and your responses adequately encompass all types of guests? Is it the same for your website? Don’t be afraid to declare openly that your establishment welcomes guests from all walks of life.
Moreover, consider your staff. How diverse are the members of your team? Ultimately, there’s a difference between stating that you’re LGBTQ+ friendly and actually being LGBTQ+ friendly. The members of the LGBTQ+ community will definitely feel more ‘seen’ and more at home when they’re surrounded by people with whom they can relate. Even if you don’t currently employ anyone who considers themselves a part of this community, you can still make a huge difference by educating your existing staff members on how to treat all guests and how to address and transform their own personal biases (also known as ‘sensitivity training). The goal should be making ‘kindness and courtesy to all the main culture within your establishment.
Next, start looking at other gender-binary aspects of your hotel such as the bathrooms within your onsite restaurant or the change rooms inside your onsite gym or spa. It’s highly likely that there are separate bathrooms and change rooms for men and women—but what about non-binary guests? If finances allow, consider investing in the addition of gender-neutral bathrooms and change rooms.
Finally, make LGBTQ+ focused events a regular feature on your hotel’s calendar. For example, host an LGBTQ+ night every Thursday at your restaurant. Avoid pinkwashing and celebrating LGBTQ+ guests during Pride Month only. Fly that pride flag high—permanently!
Keep all of this advice in mind at all times and you will be guaranteed an endless supply of happy guests, no matter how they identify.