Making up around 10% of the world’s population, LGBTQ+ tourists (also referred to as ‘Rainbow travellers’) are enriching, brand-loyal, and high-value visitors. Taking an average of 3.9 trips a year, they dedicate a higher share of their wallet to holidays – and their willingness to travel means that they contribute 15% of global tourism spend. Visiting more destinations for longer, the LGBTQ+ visitor is also inclined to return to the same place multiple times if they have a positive and welcoming experience.
While the global tourism industry is making tremendous strides towards Rainbow inclusiveness, there’s always more work to be done to ensure LGBTQ+ visitors feel safe, accepted, and embraced. We encourage you to think about how you can play your part in creating an inclusive experience for our Rainbow manuhiri (visitors) – and then take action to fill any gaps. It all starts with your digital experience and leads into the day-to-day operations, so here’s some of our top tips to embrace diversity and foster a warm welcome through your online footprint.
Showcase your respect and aroha (compassion) to travellers of all genders, by adopting gender-neutral language across your website and communications. These help to promote equality and show inclusion towards all gender identities, sexual orientations, family groups and members of the Rainbow community we see in society. Inclusive language also helps prevent bias or discrimination from occurring.
When you have some downtime, do a good thorough check for ways you can use terms that cater for all. There are some great resources over at digital.govt.nz, but here’s some of the most common:
• Guys ➡ everyone, folk, team
• Husband/wife ➡ partner
• Mum/Dad ➡ parents
• Man-made ➡ human-made
Then on-site and on your tours, be sure to use greetings that acknowledge travellers of all identities and expressions. ‘Welcome everyone’, ‘Good morning all’, ‘Kia ora koutou’ are all perfect substitutes. ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’ is in the bin!
Many tourism businesses use forms to collect customer details; ranging from enquiries, to booking submissions, to health and safety waivers. While essential for business needs, it’s worth asking ‘is it necessary for your business to collect pronoun, title and gender information?’
In a 2021 survey, over 84% of respondents felt misrepresented when sharing their gender information online. It’s likely that simple name fields are sufficient – and if gender is required, including options beyond just Male and Female, like ‘Other’, ‘Non-binary’ or simply ‘N/A’ makes a difference. It’s also good practice to offer ‘preferred name’ options on a form, as some travellers may not call themselves the same name that’s printed on their passport, for example.
Try adding Spark’s Beyond Binary Code to your website, which helps make forms more gender-inclusive, firstly by assessing whether capturing this data is necessary, and then generating suggestions to improve the way the fields are phrased and coded.
Speaking of pronouns, why not highlight your commitment to inclusivity by including your staff’s pronouns on email signatures on replies to enquiry emails? Or feature them on your staff’s name badges? Pride Pledge has fantastic resources on why this is important.
Visibility matters when it comes to LGBTQ+ visitors planning their travel itinerary, where to go, what to do and where to stay. Think about how your imagery incorporates a variety of target demographics and audiences – is there an opportunity to feature a same-sex couple or a diverse family across your website? Have a look at your marketing campaigns and evaluate how they incorporate Rainbow communities of all forms, in an authentic way that doesn’t play into outdated stereotypes.
Orbitz’s ‘Travel As You Are’ campaign is great inspiration here. A variety of talent featured (including more than just a same-sex white male couple), inviting people to travel on their own terms, not the ones society created for them. The strong LGBTQ+ representation helped remove barriers to travel for Rainbow visitors.
Appearing in Google Maps and Search, it’s a strong sign that your attraction or accommodation has made steps to foster an inclusive and welcoming space for Rainbow visitors. There’s also an option to add a ‘Transgender safespace’ tag.
Take the plunge and really showcase your commitment to LGBTQ+ inclusion through taking the Pride Pledge! By coming together to showcase a Rainbow-friendly tourism industry, we can work as one to reach new audiences, showcase our strong manaakitanga (hospitality), and create safe and enjoyable experiences for all.