Although LGBTQ+ travelers are feeling more confident about visiting destinations, they still face a number of challenges throughout the travel experience.
According to new research from Booking.com, which surveyed more than 5,500 LGBTQ+ travelers from around the globe, 82% of LGBTQ+ travelers say they have had less-than-welcoming – or uncomfortable – experiences when traveling, with 65% reporting they have to consider their safety and wellbeing.
While 28% of LGBTQ+ U.S. travelers say negative experiences are most common while out and about in public when traveling, LGBTA+ travelers from India (100%), Denmark (97%) and Mexico (93%) have negative public experiences more frequently.
According to the report, 55% of LGBTQ+ travelers say they have experienced discrimination while traveling, citing stereotyping (28%) and being stared at, laughed at or verbally abused by other travelers (18%) or locals (17%) as top offenders.
Such factors influence where they plan trips, with 60% of LGBTQ+ travelers saying that being part of the community impacts the decisions they make when planning.
Over half (51%) of LGBTQ+ travelers feel that destinations on their bucket list have been affected by being part of the community. Meanwhile, 58% believe being a member of the community impacts who they choose to travel with, and 55% say it impacts the activities they participate in when away.
Despite the obstacles, 85% of LGBTQ+ travelers say that the majority of their travel experiences have been welcoming, with gay and lesbian travelers most likely to agree (90%).
Six in 10 (63%) travelers say that being part of the LGBTQ+ community actually makes them feel more confident as a traveler, with 84% saying that they do have the confidence to explore the destinations they want to visit. Gay travelers are the most confident (87%) followed by bisexual travelers (86%).
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According to Booking.com’s research, 60% of LGBTQ+ travelers are more likely to travel to a destination that celebrates its local LGBTQ+ community and history. More than half (56%) are more likely to choose travel that allows them to learn about hidden aspects of the community in their selected destination.
LGBTQ+ travelers also want brands that support and recognize the community, with more than half (55%) saying they are more likely to seek out attractions or activities that are tailored to the LGBTQ+ community.
Fifty-five percent say they research accommodations, brands and experiences ahead of booking to understand the role they play in supporting the community, and that research leads to the majority (64%) being more likely to book with brands that are making the effort.
Room for improvement
That said, there is still room for improvement throughout the travel industry to make the travel experience more inclusive.
When asked what they hope to see from travel companies, 37% of LGBTQ+ travelers say they would like more tailored recommendations for their preferences and interests, while 31% of travelers want additional information shared on the LGBTQ+ status of the location, including local laws, religious sensibilities, clothing mandatories and LGBTQ+ hate crime stats.
Thirty percent of travelers also want to see filters that allow them to identify properties that offer a positive experience for LGBTQ+ travelers, with a filter being most popular among travelers from Brazil (40%), New Zealand (39%) and Vietnam (39%).
In 2021, Bookig.com launched its Proud Hospitality training program and now counts more than 10,000 Proud Certified properties across 95 countries and territories on its platform.
The program, developed in partnership with HospitableMe, is designed to help hospitality professionals understand the challenges and barriers that the LGBTQ+ community faces when traveling and equip them with practical skills and techniques to put into practice at their property.
Partners that complete the course receive a Travel Proud badge on their property page to indicate a welcoming experience to potential guests. The service is free and is available in English and French and will soon launch in German and Spanish.
Meanwhile, Expedia Group’s Orbitz helps LGBTQ+ travelers find accommodations by highlighting hotels that have signed an Inclusivity Pledge. Orbitz users can find these properties on a dedicated search platform or via filter on Orbitz’s website.
According to Expedia Group, LGBTQ+ travelers spent a record $218 billion on travel and tourism in 2018.