Booking.com has introduced a Proud Hospitality programme in a bid to support accommodation providers to deliver more inclusive and welcoming experiences for LGBTQ+ travellers.
The online booking giant has made the announcement following research conducted with 3,052 LGBTQ+ travellers across three continents.
The research found that 68% of UK LGBTQ+ travellers say they have to consider their safety and wellbeing as an LGBTQ+ traveller when picking a destination and almost two thirds (63%) believe that travelling as part of the LGBTQ+ community means some destinations are off limits.
More than half of those surveyed said these extra considerations extend across the entire planning and travel journey.
LGBTQ+ travellers report having had a mix of welcoming and awkward encounters. More than half (55%) of UK LGBTQ+ travellers surveyed by Booking.com said they have had less-than-welcoming or uncomfortable experiences at a property where they were staying, with 25% saying they have had staff assume they would need separate rooms or beds when checking in as a couple.
But 58% of UK LGTBQ+ travellers felt welcomed most of the time, according to the research, with those surveyed highlighting that interactions with staff (57%) and check-in (47%) are the most important factors in creating a comfortable, welcoming stay.
Booking.com’s free Proud Hospitality training programme for its accommodation partners focuses on the challenges and barriers the LGBTQ+ community faces when travelling and provides hospitality professionals with practical skills to show potential guests to help provide a welcoming experience.
Developed in partnership with HospitableMe, the first step of the programme to becoming a Proud Certified property includes a 75-minute online training session.
After completing the online course and making a commitment to deliver a more inclusive experience, Proud Certified partners will receive a Travel Proud badge on their property page.
Partners also have access to resources such as a Travel Proud Customer Toolkit.
Cities with multiple Proud Certified properties will be showcased on a designated Travel Proud page on Booking.com, where travellers can learn more about the initiative as well as find and book certified properties.
“Everything we do at Booking.com is about enabling smoother and more enjoyable travel experiences for everyone – no matter where they come from, who they love or how they identify,” said Booking.com’s chief marketing officer and senior vice president Arjan Dijk.
“As a gay traveller myself, I share some of these same concerns, but also equal amounts of optimism for a better future.
“We firmly believe we can get there together and that everyone should be able to experience the world as themselves, always.”