About The Author: Charlie Douty, Co-Founder of Husbands That Travel
Together with his husband, Charlie has extensively explored Australia, sharing their travels with a 140K-strong Instagram community, @husbands.thattravel. He’s partnered with Hilton Australasia, Destination NSW, and MRBTA to deliver LGBTQIA+ inclusivity workshops. He’s recently founded the “Welcome with Pride” accreditation program. This training program provides a pathway for travel operators to create genuinely inclusive experiences for LGBTQIA+ visitors.
As my husband Michael and I (Charlie) travelled around Australia by van over the last 2 years, we frequently made an unspoken decision at each destination and accommodation: whether to hold back on ‘being gay’ for safety’s sake and to avoid unwanted attention from staff or guests. This experience is far from unique to us. A staggering 98% of LGBTQ+ travellers have felt compelled to go back into the closet while travelling, with 60% admitting it’s their default approach to not be their full selves at a holiday accommodation.
“I’ve avoided being seen kissing, hugging or being in physical contact with another man, because I couldn’t guarantee that other guests would tolerate us just existing openly, and there was also no guarantee that we would be protected/supported by hotel staff.” – LGBTQ+ Traveller, Welcome with Pride’s Survey 2022
“Typically only one of us checks in while the other hangs back so less chance they realize we are gay” – LGBTQ+ Traveller, Welcome with Pride’s Survey 2022
“I minimise my personal style (makeup, bold clothing etc) to fit in and avoid attention. I have been careful to not to express my joy/happiness in public spaces “too much” (like laughter).” – LGBTQ+ Traveller, Welcome with Pride’s Survey 2022
Most of the time, this isn’t because the accommodation is particularly unwelcoming, it’s because we don’t know whether the accommodation is welcoming or not; and when we don’t know, it can feel easier to go back into the closet than to risk having an uncomfortable experience with the staff, locals or other guests. The opportunity for travel operators is twofold: it’s a moral responsibility to create LGBTQ+ inclusive spaces and a business opportunity to differentiate your business / region to become a destination of choice for LGBTQ+ travellers.
The Case for Proactive Inclusivity
The sobering reality that many LGBTQ+ travellers revert to hiding their identities shows that tourism businesses need to be boldly and proactively inclusive – it’s not enough to just say that you’re LGBTQ+ friendly. It’s about creating spaces where holding hands, showing affection, and simply being oneself isn’t a calculated risk—it’s a given freedom.
“I almost always feel unsafe traveling unless there is explicit support shown by other people – otherwise I assume there isn’t support” – Trans Female Traveller, Welcome with Pride’s Survey 2022
Why Inclusivity is Good Business
Embracing inclusivity isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s smart business. LGBTQ+ travelers represent up to 30% of tourism revenue, with spending 3 to 7 times greater than other segments. We’re not just frequent travellers; we’re loyal patrons, with 71% of LGBTQ+ adults preferring brands that champion LGBTQ+ issues, and 85% of our community discovering inclusive accommodations through positive word of mouth.
“Should a business put the effort to promote that they are LGBTQ+ friendly, I would tend to make the extra effort to support them. I would be willing to spend a little bit more and go a little bit further out knowing that I am supporting a business that supported the community.” – LGBTQ+ Traveller, Welcome with Pride’s Survey 2022
Tree Chalets, Margaret River Region doubled their LGBTQ+ bookings after implementing Welcome with Pride’s recommendations from their workshop last year:
“Following the implementation of the workshop’s initiatives, we’ve observed a remarkable doubling in bookings from LGBTQIA+ guests this year. Implementing the workshop recommendations has enabled our business to demonstrate our authentic commitment to LGBTQIA+ inclusivity leading to a huge increase in word-of-mouth referral bookings within LGBTQIA and ally networks.” – Fran Robinson, Owner, Tree Chalets, Margaret River Region
Authenticity Over Pinkwashing
The term ‘pinkwashing’—where businesses superficially market to the LGBTQ+ community, particularly during pride—erodes trust. Our community is astute and can discern between a rainbow flag for show and genuine efforts to drive inclusivity. It’s why 66% of survey respondents believe a rainbow flag is insufficient to signal true inclusivity.
To counteract this skepticism, businesses must demonstrate authentic commitment to inclusivity every day of the year, not just during pride.
Top Tips for Attracting LGBTQIA+ Visitors
Creating an environment where LGBTQ+ travellers feel safe, welcomed and celebrated is about understanding the nuanced realities of our travel experiences. It requires a blend of empathy, insight, and actionable strategies that translate into authentic experiences—this is the essence of the “Mastering LGBTQ+ Inclusive Experiences” workshop.
Join us to drive LGBTQ+ inclusivity in your business. In this workshop, you’ll gain:
- Empathy and Insight: Deep dive into the lived experiences of LGBTQ+ travellers through a comprehensive research survey, enabling you to understand and mitigate the anxieties that often accompany their travel decisions.
- Stand Out Experiences: Discover seven key strategies that will not only entice LGBTQ+ travellers to return but also encourage them to become champions of your brand.
- Authentic Marketing: Learn how to authentically market your business and stand out to LGBTQ+ travellers, ensuring that your efforts resonate genuinely with the LGBTQ+ community.
- Tailored Action Plans: Develop a bespoke inclusivity action plan that aligns with your brand, identifies potential gaps, and sets your business on a simple and efficient course for improvement.
This workshop is more than just a learning opportunity; it’s a step toward leading the change in the tourism industry towards inclusive tourism.
For more details and to secure your spot, please sign up here: https://events.humanitix.com/mastering-lgbtq-inclusive-experiences