Annually, I attend the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce conference. I write about it, talk about it on the podcast and meet many of you there. The conference never disappoints, in fact each year I’m not sure how they are going to top the previous year, but somehow they do. (Check them out here). My reasoning for talking about this particular conference is that I had an incredible check-in experience at the host hotel for the conference.
But before I begin sharing that wonderful experience let me just get you in the right mindset to understand what made it a good experience. Imagine for a moment that you live in an alternative universe where the straight community is the marginalized community and the LGBT community was the majority. You and your husband/wife – your opposite sex partner go to check-in to a hotel for your anniversary vacation. When you get there the hotel makes an assumption that you must want two beds because you couldn’t possibly be sharing a bed together, after all you are the opposite sex, how dare you.
So when you begin explain to the hotel that you only need one king bed, you feel judgment immediately. The person behind the counter is judging you because how dare you need just one bed, after all you can’t possibly be in a relationship together. This may sound like the most ridiculous hypothetical you have ever heard. But the sad part is that this is a very common experience LGBT people face when they check into a hotel together. Often the hotel makes an assumption that two people of the same gender must be friends, cousins, sisters, brothers – just sharing a room. When this happens to LGBT folks it sucks, plain and simple. I’ve experienced it many times. In that moment where you have to correct them and say, “No, we only need one bed” it can be awkward. You have no idea how the person across the counter feels or how they are going to now treat you because of it.
So to my great pleasure when I checked in to the Omni Dallas hotel it was very refreshing to hear “Will that be one bed or two, ladies?” – Yes, the assumption was not made that we need two beds. The statement was forward thinking but not confronting in any way. It was very matter of fact. That simple question changes an entire conversation and feel around the check-in process.
I would venture a guess that 90% of what I write on this blog comes down to getting folks to not make assumptions in any regard. Assumptions really just cause problems. In the case of checking-in two people of the same gender, making the assumption they couldn’t possibly be together isn’t going to start that experience off with your hotel, motel, bed and breakfast, etc. on the wrong foot. That’s not the impression you want to leave in your customers mind. If you have a similar business where this scenario could apply consider how you can change your customer process so you are not alienating your customer the moment they walk through your door.
The impression I walked away with from this hotel experience was stellar compared to many others. The answer to the question for me was that I needed two beds because I was sharing a room with a colleague but the mere fact that I was asked had me ecstatic. Find a way to make your LGBT customers feel special and welcomed and the goodwill and word of mouth will go along way in building your reputation within the LGBT community.