World Rainbow Hotels (WRH), the gay & lesbian travel organization which made the headlines a year and a half ago as the first ever supplier of gay-friendly hotels on the GDS, launched a new website on August 1st, 2012, allowing LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) consumers to find and book genuinely gay and lesbian-welcoming hotels.
Since its creation in January 2011, World Rainbow Hotels – now boasting partnership with 175 hotel brands including high-profile names such as Kimpton, Morgans, Design Hotels, Joie de Vivre, Thompson Hotels, Rocco Forte, Orient Express, Four Seasons, Fairmont, Raffles and Swissôtel to name but a few – has endeavoured to set a new standard regarding the oft-misused concept of “gay-friendliness”.
Nicolas Wijnants, World Rainbow Hotels’ brand director, said:
“Too often hoteliers claim their establishment is “gay-friendly” but then fail to deliver on their promise. Gay and lesbian consumers want more than a rainbow flag in the window, they want to feel genuinely welcome as gay and lesbian individuals and they want to know that the hotel’s staff understands their travel concerns. World Rainbow Hotels’ mission is to give hoteliers all the right tools to make sure gay and lesbian guests are pleased with their stay.”
The online reservation portal selected more than 850 three to five-star properties in 129 global destinations through a rigorous set of screening criteria, including their current involvement with the LGBT community, compliance with non-discrimination policies and same sex benefits for their staff.
Member hotels are encouraged to undergo LGBT welcoming training and required to put together their own information guide about their local gay and lesbian scene.
These guides, called Out & About, provide information such as the destination’s best gay-friendly restaurants, the best gay or lesbian clubs and bars as well as special events. This information is visible online on the hotel’s profile and available to WRH guests at the hotel’s concierge.
According to Mr. Wijnants, all these elements contribute to a more pleasurable hotel experience for gay & lesbian travellers:
“Gay-friendly means that from the moment our guests make a reservation to the time they check out, they can just relax. They won’t be placed in the awkward situation of having to ask for a double bed instead of twin beds and they won’t have to think twice about requesting room service when they are in bed with their lover. Guests won’t be pressured to explain anything or justify anything or “come out” to the hotel staff, it’s already taken care of. Going to a World Rainbow Hotel is like going to a LGBT embassy, where guests can feel safe and welcome.”
The company’s portfolio offers accommodation for every wallet, as it ranges from luxury hotels perfect for a honeymoon to “budget chic” hotels for the more cost-conscious traveller. Besides the many renowned international chains, World Rainbow Hotels also feature many award-winning boutique hotels, apartment-hotels and resorts.
The World Rainbow Hotels website offers the latest updates on the top gay and lesbian events worldwide as well as valuable information on the social attitudes regarding homosexuality for each of the destinations featured on the site.
Mark Lewis, World Rainbow Hotels’ managing director, said:
“Whilst our website only lists hotels in places where attitudes to LGBT travelers are friendly overall, not all countries have changed their laws in line with what is socially acceptable. Therefore, having up-to-date information is key to avoid any unsavory experiences. Our goal is to provide our customers not only with the best gay-friendly hotel, but also with all the relevant tools to ensure their stay is as pleasant as possible.”
As the first and only gay and lesbian travel organization to be using the travel industry’s own communication network (known as the Global Distribution System or GDS), World Rainbow Hotels can offer customers fast and secure transactions as well as the hotels’ best available rates at all times.
This makes World Rainbow Hotels a pioneer, allowing major international hotel brands to reach out to this increasingly relevant market segment for the first time.
The launch of World Rainbow Hotels’ consumer website has been met with industry-wide praise:
“We’re very pleased to be a partner of World Rainbow Hotels. Each of our member hotels are ambassadors of their neighbourhood and strive to provide each guest with individually tailored, culturally-immersive experiences, both within and outside the property. The Design Hotels™ community is made up of free-spirited globetrotters from a broad range of backgrounds and preferences looking for meaningful journeys. Our carefully curated portfolio of 230 hotels worldwide are the perfect gateway to the local scene no matter where you are.”
Arno Schwalie, VP Business Development & Corporate Strategy, Design Hotels™.
“Fairmont Raffles and Swissôtel Hotels and Resorts are thrilled to be partnering with WRH. We are very proud to have met the strict set of criteria set forth by WRH and are now able to welcome their clients at our participating locations worldwide. As our core pillars include our relationship and place in the community, we strive to ensure all of our guests have the most memorable experience when staying with us. We value the needs, ideas and individuality of others. We treat all Colleagues and Guests with fairness and dignity. We look forward to a very prosperous year ahead with WRH.”
Cory Hagopian, Executive Director, Travel Industry Sales, Fairmont Raffles Hotels International
“Kimpton Hotels is committed to creating a culture that reflects the diversity of our hotel and restaurant guests. With that goal in mind, several of our hotels have partnered with WRH to show support of understanding, accepting, and celebrating differences among people. That includes different personalities, lifestyles, work styles, education and experience. We also welcome and embrace people of all races, ethnicities, ages, religions, physical abilities, sexual identities, gender identities and genders. Our commitment to our internal clients (employees) mirrors our commitment to our guests from all backgrounds.”
Yvonne Ruppert-Gordon, Director of National Accounts, Kimpton Hotels & Resorts
“We’re excited about our new partnership with World Rainbow Hotels, which perfectly complements IGLTA’s efforts to work with businesses around the globe that truly welcome gay travellers. Creating a hotel booking process that is more in tune with our community’s needs can only lead to a better LGBT travel experience overall.”