Travel brands say they want to be more inclusive of LGBTQ travelers. But are they really listening to what queer travelers want in 2022?
Booking.com just dropped a new survey of global LGBTQIA travelers. The survey data tells us a lot about how our past experiences color our travel planning and what queer travelers expect when they travel – both the good and the bad.
I’ve broken down the Booking.com survey data with my own thoughts on what queer travelers want.
In my experiences, the travel industry does LGBTQ travelers a disservice by focusing exclusively on safety when they market to us.By sharing data and anecdotes about our experiences, we can help the travel and hospitality industries do a better job of meeting us where we are instead of force-feeding us the same standard lines about safety.
Queer travelers are complex intersectional people. We’re not a single demographic, we contain multitudes. Here’s where we’ve been and what we say we want. The brands who can take this in and listen will get our business.
When travel brands understand LGBTQ travelers expectations, they can move beyond vague inclusivity promises and pinkwashed campaigns to actually meet our wants and our needs.
LGBTQ Traveler Inclusion 2022
First, some good news: 87 percent of queer travelers say they’ve been made to feel welcome at their destinations. Gay and lesbian travelers are particularly happy with their reception.
Gay and bi travelers say their identities actually make them more confident to get out and explore destinations.
While a majority of queer travelers are enjoying their trips, 55 percent of respondents say they’ve been discriminated against while traveling. The most common forms of LGBTQ discrimination include being stereotyped and getting stares, laughs, or verbal abuse from travelers and local people.
Most of us have been discriminated against, and that’s not cool. But we’re not letting it hold us back from going where we want to go. It’s time to move beyond discussions of queer travelers’ safety, because we have!
Destination Inclusivity and LGBTQ Travel Tips
Queer travelers want to do our due diligence on safety. That means:
- Understanding local laws that impact LGBTQ safety, including proposed anti-queer or anti-trans legislation.
- Understanding religious and cultural norms, so we can respect our host destination
- Being aware of any hate crimes or discriminatory incidents in the destination
- Knowing how to be considerate travelers while cultivating a sense of safety, trust and belonging
A drag brunch and walk around the gayborhood are the least you can do to serve us. 57% of LGBTQ travelers say they’re interested in learning more about queer history on the ground.
Two-thirds of queer travelers say they want to explore the local LGBTQ community when they travel.
I’ve noticed a rise in LGBTQ walking tours offered via Airbnb experiences and similar networks that offer queer travelers the opportunity to explore a new destination, learn about its local queer history, and discover the best hot spots from a local.
Walking tours are great, and I’m excited to see what the next wave of by us, for us queer travel offerings looks like.
Destinations that celebrate their queer community will stand out to LGBTQ travelers.
Make it easy for us to discover the local hot spots and celebrate local queer people who are building community. Showcase LGBTQ nonprofits and community groups, so we can connect and support. If there’s been a history of discrimination, don’t hide it. We’re too smart for that. Instead, show us how you’ve actually changed. Demonstrate that we’re welcome.
The majority of LGBTQIA travelers have experienced unwelcoming and uncomfortable experiences when we travel. Close to two-thirds of us admit we take this into account when planning stays.
Around one-third of queer travelers want hotels and travel service providers to tailor their recommendations to their interests and preferences. Close to one-third of travelers wish for a feature that lets them filter accommodations specifically with regard to LGBTQ-friendliness.
Until things change, we have to think about our mental and emotional wellbeing and our personal safety when traveling. Make inclusion part of marketing. Celebrate it and put it front and center, so we don’t have to guess.
LGBTQ-Allied Travel Brands
When we book activities ahead of time, close to 60 percent of us do our research to see how these business support the LGBTQ community. We want to give our business to brands that are good allies.
Spotlight the local brands and businesses that are LGBTQ-friendly.
Travel trends come and go. For inclusion to be more than a trend, travel industry players need to go beyond lip service to understanding of diverse travelers’ needs and wants. Queer Adventurers is in allyship with other demographics of diverse travelers. Being more inclusive of those historically on the margins improves the travel experience or all.
It’s also beneficial for LGBTQIA folks to understand how our experiences reflect queer travel trends. We are better able to put our experiences in perspective and prepare for trips when we understand the data. Not only can we process the rough stuff when it happens, we can grow outside of our comfort zone to go on bucket-list trips.