Switzerland Tourism (the official tourism office for Switzerland) has become the first national tourism organization to join the GayComfort training and certification program.
Switzerland Tourism is making membership in the GayComfort program available to all interested hotels across Switzerland. This initiative is in line with Switzerland Tourism’s continuing commitment to delivering industry-leading levels of hospitality and welcoming service to all visitors.
“Here in Switzerland we are a very progressive and tolerant country which is genuinely gay and lesbian welcoming, and we take that very seriously,” said Urs Eberhard, Executive Vice President Markets & Meetings for Switzerland Tourism. “We want to make sure that the welcome our LGBT visitors receive is of the highest possible standard, and is in line with our international reputation for industry-leading levels of customer service. Our decision to make GayComfort training and certification available to all interested properties across our country is entirely in keeping with this approach.”
Individual cities – such as Berlin, Stockholm, Nice, Helsinki, Manchester and Australia’s Gold Coast – have already implemented GayComfort training for their tourism industries, but Switzerland Tourism is the first tourist board to do so in locations across the country.
The goal of GayComfort training is to help LGBT travelers “know before they go” that the welcome they receive when staying at hotels will be genuine, friendly and understanding. The program provides online training to staff – in four languages – on key travel concerns, as expressed by LGBT travelers in consumer research studies.
Research data collected in 18 countries from almost 40,000 respondents to the Out Now Global LGBT 2020 Study revealed that three out of four respondents seek to stay with a genuinely gay-welcoming hotel.
GayComfort also teaches industry staff how to avoid stereotyping gay travelers, and emphasizes the diversity that exists within the LGBT customer group.
“LGBT travelers have become increasingly wary after several recent cases of discrimination by frontline hotel staff towards LGBT customers,” said Ian Johnson, CEO of Out Now. “It is no longer enough to claim to be ‘gay-friendly’ without delivering on the promises made. LGBT customers want what every traveler wants. They want to know before they go that they can relax and be themselves on vacation, and that the staff [that serves] them are comfortable with that. Hotels, tourist attractions and destinations which demonstrate that they genuinely want to deliver great customer service to this market are the ones that will succeed.”
Johnson adds, “Bad experiences for LGBT customers can go viral on social media very quickly and create negative publicity undoing any gains made by expensive gay advertising campaigns. If destinations are serious about delivering high quality levels of customer service for everyone, then training industry staff to better understand LGBT travelers’ concerns is the best way to do this. For four years Out Now’s GayComfort program has been helping our partners to do exactly that, and we look forward to working with Switzerland Tourism to bring world-class levels of LGBT staff training to their industry.”