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Alessio Virgili, CEO & Founder of the Sonders & Beach Group.In a landmark move to revolutionize the travel industry, Sonders & Beach unveiled the first-ever AI-powered LGBTQ+ Travel Index. This innovative tool, developed in collaboration with The Data Appeal Company, analyzes online content, comments, and user reviews to provide real-time ratings on gender and LGBTQ+ inclusivity for destinations, hotels, and operators.

Enhancing LGBTQ+ Travel Experience

The LGBTQ+ Travel Index is the latest enhancement to Sonders & Beach’s acclaimed QueerVadis LGBTQ+ Accreditation and Certification program. This cutting-edge tool enables members to benchmark their services against competitors, enhance their offerings for the LGBTQ+ community, and more effectively address customer needs, thereby elevating the overall travel experience.

A Booming Market

LGBTQ+ travel is a formidable global tourism industry segment valued at a staggering $200 billion. Representing over 10% of all travellers, this market saw 67 million LGBTQ+ tourist arrivals in Europe in 2023 alone. According to the European LGBTQ+ Travel Alliance (ELTA), this influx translates to an economic value of 55 billion euros, marking a 27.9% growth from the previous year.

ELTA’s Commitment to Inclusivity

The recent ELTA annual meeting, held in Brussels under the auspices of the European Parliament, highlighted the importance of inclusive travel. Key industry players such as AccorHotels, BestWestern, EasyJet, and Visit Malta participated, underscoring their commitment to creating a welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ travellers.

Combating ‘Pink Washing’

Alessio Virgili, CEO and Founder of Sonders & Beach Group and President of ELTA, stressed the need for genuine inclusivity in the industry. He criticized the practice of “pink washing,” where companies falsely portray themselves as inclusive without adopting verifiable DEI policies.

“The rising influence of LGBTQ+ consumers presents a golden opportunity for companies to embrace inclusive practices through comprehensive training and internationally recognized certifications,” said Virgili. “Destinations must ensure they provide a safe and welcoming environment for the LGBTQ+ community beyond superficial marketing efforts.”

AI-Driven Inclusivity

The QueerVadis LGBTQ+ Index, powered by a sophisticated AI engine, evaluates online content for gender inclusivity. It compares these insights with competitors’, providing actionable recommendations to enhance inclusivity. This tool helps organizations make informed decisions about investments and services, aligning their marketing strategies with LGBTQ+ client expectations and sustainability goals. It is easily integrated into members’ websites, platforms, and apps, with updates every month to track reputation and trends in real-time.

Competitive Edge

The unique QueerVadis certification is becoming crucial in the tourism industry. It signifies compliance with Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria, benefiting B Corps, publicly traded companies, and those pursuing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Virgili noted, “Online travel agencies like Booking.com are beginning to recognize only third-party certifications as valid indicators of truly sustainable businesses.”

Expanding Membership

Prominent QueerVadis-accredited members include UNA Hotels Group, Leonardo Hotels, the Italian Tourism Agency (ENIT), Best Western, and the municipalities of Milan and Crema. Leonardo Hotels Central Europe oversees a portfolio comprising 84 hotels and over 14,500 rooms in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Spain, and Italy.

Future Prospects

Sonders & Beach’s introduction of the AI-powered LGBTQ+ Travel Index represents a significant leap forward in promoting inclusivity in the travel industry. Providing real-time, actionable insights empowers businesses to create truly welcoming environments for LGBTQ+ travellers, setting a new benchmark for the industry.

Sonders & Beach’s innovative approach underscores their commitment to enhancing the travel experience for the LGBTQ+ community. As the travel industry continues to evolve, tools like the LGBTQ+ Travel Index will play an essential role in ensuring that inclusivity is not just a buzzword but a fundamental aspect of the travel experience.




Written by: Jill Walsh