Queer travelers are sensitive to political and social nuances, out of self-defense. Choosing the wrong Airbnb will be at best uncomfortable, and at worst a threat to your physical safety. Besides promoting global tolerance and acceptance, there are direct monetary benefits of marketing your Airbnb rental to the LGBTQ+ community. An Airbnb host who increases the inclusiveness of their listing will cause a win-win – you can make the world a better place and increase your occupancy rate at the same time.
Officially, Airbnb does have a non-discrimination policy. But that doesn’t stop everyone. When my wife and I first started hosting, we didn’t include information about our relationship on our profile. We felt it was safer to keep our personal information private, as the internet can be a scary place. After several guests abruptly leaving (doing some research on social media led us to some very conservative profile posts), we made the choice to “come out” on Airbnb, in spite of our safety and privacy concerns.
Since then, many people have booked with us specifically because we are a gay married couple. People in the LGTBQ+ community appreciate having a safe space where they will be welcomed, especially in Midwestern states.
These particular guests shared with us that they were unsure about where to stay due to the conservative nature of our area, and booked with us specifically so they could feel safe being themselves.
An inclusive host welcomes all guests with an open heart, and these are just some easy ways to show you are an inclusive host:
1. Include a specific statement in your listing description: “This home welcomes guests from all backgrounds, and is LGBTQ+ friendly.”
2. Use gender neutral words. When I was planning my wedding, I called a hotel to block off some rooms for our guests. The receptionist asked for my name, and then the name for my husband. I then had to tell her that it was a female. She immediately apologized, and I could tell she felt badly about it – but the damage was done. This could have been easily avoided if she had used the term “fiance” or “spouse” instead of husband.
3. Use gender neutral pronouns. Follow the lead of the other person, both in speaking directly to them as well as about their partner. If a male is talking about their fiance, do not ask “What does she do for a living?” Instead, ask “What do they do for a living?” Refer to guests by “they” or “them” instead of “he” or “she”.
4. Add a rainbow flag to one of your rooms or an outside space, and include it in your photos.
5. Have neutral or inclusive decorations in your home. Once you open up your home to paying guests, you need to evaluate everything through a guest perspective. If someone of a different religion or sexuality came in the door, how would religious decor make them feel? Religion might be important to you, but it also might make your guests feel uncomfortable. I’m not saying you have to take down your Christmas tree, but maybe rethink the portrait of Jesus on the wall.
I am sure that some of you are thinking, “I have a cross on the wall to make Christians feel welcome! I don’t want to offend Christians by taking it down or offend guests by using gender neutral language!”
I ask you to consider this: will someone who is cis-gendered notice that you referred to them as “they”? Will a Christian notice the absence of a cross on the wall? Most likely not. A person who is LGBTQ+ will definitely notice…and these small details will make a huge difference to them.
During pride month, many large companies target our community with rainbow covered ads and products. This is known as rainbow capitalism, and we can spot it from a mile away. But as long as you implement these suggestions with good intentions, you will be able to provide a safe space for show LGBTQ+ guests. Especially in today’s political climate, being a purposefully inclusive host will result in higher ratings and more frequent bookings.
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