Travel companies ‘need to do more to be gay-friendly’

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Although plenty of travel companies now advertise themselves as being gay-friendly, a survey shows that many need to do more to justify the claim.

Out Now Consulting compiled a survey of 8,000 LGBT people in the UK and 30,000 globally and says that there is often a gulf between the claims made by travel companies and the experiences gay travellers have.

The research will be launched on Wednesday at the World Travel Market, with full results to be published in January.

Ian Johnson, chief executive of Out Now Consulting, said: “These days, suddenly everyone wants to be ‘gay friendly’ and frankly, that has made today’s LGBT consumers extremely wary of the bona-fides of the welcome being extended.

“Even the phrase ‘gay friendly’ is pretty hackneyed and does absolutely nothing to rescue a holiday that can be ruined when a stay feels far less than welcoming for a lesbian couple because of their experience at check-in, or for two gay men when ordering room service to the honeymoon suite.

“The number one factor that LGBT travellers hope for when they travel away from home is an equal and genuine welcome, which means that travel providers need to improve their communications and behaviours.

“So that LGBT people can enjoy what every other customer has taken for granted for years: the chance to simply be themselves on their vacation. It seems obvious that when we go on holidays we all want to relax and feel comfortable.

“The industry needs to lift its game on the staff training front if it is going to deliver on the promises being made to LGBT travellers.

“The message to the travel industry is clear. It‘s no longer good enough to tick an equality box, fly a rainbow flag or join an LGBT trade association because that’s not going to deliver the level of experience that today’s LGBT customers want.

“Improvements need to be made.”

Mr Johnson added the UK LGBT travel market has remained resilient despite the economic downturn. He said that it is now worth £5.1 billion annually, compared to £4.9 billion in 2007-2008.

Top ten desired destinations over the next three years:

1. USA
2. Australia
3. France
4. Italy
5. Spain
6. Canada
7. Germany
8. New Zealand
9. Greece
10. Ireland

Top 10 European Cities:

1. Paris
2. Amsterdam
3. Rome
4. Barcelona
5. Berlin
6. London
7. Venice
8. Madrid
9. Prague
10. Vienna

Top 10 North American Cities:

1. New York City
2. San Francisco
3. LA/West Hollywood
4. Las Vegas
5. Miami
6. Chicago
7. Vancouver
8. Toronto
8. Washington DC
10. Key West and the Florida Keys