Parades and festivals will take place around the U.S. this month in celebration of LGBTQ Pride Month. Hotels are getting to know the LGBTQ community and creating guest relationships by participating in local festivities.
REPORT FROM THE U.S.—Hotels around the United States are participating in festivities to celebrate LGBTQ Pride Month, which provides an opportunity for hotels to show support, meet the LGBTQ community and build short- and long-term guest relationships.
Jeff Welk, GM at the DoubleTree by Hilton Milwaukee Downtown, said the hotel has been an official PrideFest Milwaukee sponsor for more than 10 years. During PrideFest weekend, members of the DoubleTree hotel staff take turns in four-hour shifts, working a booth where they organize an interactive quiz with attendees and hand out cookies and information about the hotel.
“Everyone has fun with the quiz and you get to talk to (people), and then they’ll ask questions about the DoubleTree when there wouldn’t really be a reason to talk to us otherwise maybe, and it works out,” he said. “We also have information there about weddings and different events that the hotel has done or does.”
During PrideFest weekend, the hotel provides shuttle service to and from the hotel to the event grounds. Room blocks for festival entertainers and attendees are also available.
In the first few years of PrideFest, Welk said his staff was a little leery about manning the booth because it’s a different experience. Now, his staff looks forward to working at the event, he said.
“Everybody should be more open and more accepting of different people and different cultures and things of that nature, and I think it’s really opened it up for our staff to learn more about the gay community,” he said. “My team has (learned) that the gay community tips well, the gay community’s fun, the gay community’s friendly, and we want them here. We want them to pick our hotel, so I think (the staff) does a really good job of taking care of them.”
Building guest relationships
Getting to know the LGBTQ community at June Pride events also provides an opportunity to create guest relationships, sources said.
Keith DiBene, chef concierge at Hotel Vitale, said the hotel has been active in the San Francisco Pride celebration. The hotel, along with eight* other Joie de Vivre hotels in the area, is offering room reservation discounts through a promo code for attendees and event entertainers.
“Typically, the hotel has accommodated many celebrities and VIPs associated with the parade,” he said. “And many have chosen to return because of their previous hospitality experience at Hotel Vitale.”
Peter Gamez, VP of global sales, travel industry, at Two Roads Hospitality, said the Joie de Vivre brand has sponsored San Francisco Pride for more than a decade. “In past years, we’ve had custom-designed Joie de Vivre floats with our passionate employees marching alongside,” he said.
He added that other Two Roads hotels will be supporting Pride events in other parts of the world. The Embassy Row Hotel in Washington, D.C., is hosting a Pride party the day after the Capital Pride Parade, Gamez said, and the Thompson Toronto is also offering a Pride package to guests.
“At Two Roads Hospitality … acceptance and equality are values we live, breathe and work by,” he said. “We celebrate diversity and individuality 365 days a year. We encourage employees to get involved in local happenings—like the D.C. Front Runners Pride Run in Washington, D.C., and the Big Gay 5K in Denver—by sponsoring participation.”
Welk said the Milwaukee DoubleTree has created a presence at PrideFest, which has led to repeat guests and new types of business for the hotel.
“We get returning guests, and there’s also a lot of organizations, and they’re not always gay-related,” he said. “(A) lady from Chicago (who represented an organization) … came to the booth, and I think she was pleased that we were there and had a presence, and she said, ‘You know, I do this type of meeting, is that something you could accommodate?’”
Pride perks for loyalty members
Marriott International will have a “Love Travels” float in the Capital Pride Parade in Washington, D.C., on 10 June, according to Cherilyn Williams, director of global portfolio marketing at Marriott.
Loyalty members are invited to march alongside the float during the parade and can bid on packages that include “VIP access” to Capital Pride events such as the Pride Festival Concert.
“‘Love Travels’ is a movement that is all about how Marriott welcomes all,” she said. “It launched in 2014 with a variety of very diverse celebrity talent as well as everyday travelers. When you think about love, (it’s) understood by all, and we really believe that it has this power to bridge cultures and inspire discovery around the world.”
She added that Marriott participates in a number of pride events around the country, but is really focused this year on the Capital Pride Parade, which is in Marriott’s “backyard.” Williams said it’s a way to “engage associates, as well as our members and travelers.”
*Correction, 7 June 2017: A previous version of the story gave the incorrect number of hotels.