Annabelle Arch from World Travel Market London spent the day visiting Greenwich’s top attractions with Darren Burn, founder of Outofoffice.com and Managing Director of Travel Gay, to discuss what the industry can do to be more LGBTQ friendly.
So Darren, what gave you the idea to start OutOfOffice.com?
I had a terrible experience in Egypt with my then boyfriend of checking in to a hotel as a gay couple and did not want anyone else to have the same experience. Therefore, my inspiration behind it was a personal; I want to make sure the world is a safe place for LGBTQ people to travel too.
Once you had the idea, how did you go about creating your company?
I entered a competition for investment in a British Airways magazine, from that I won the investment and worked with two Co-Founders to build the brand.
What does OutOfOffice do?
We specialise in LGBT luxury tailor-made travel. We inspire our clients on where to go and build a tailor-made itinerary for them.
Where do you think the travel industry is at now for LGBTQ travellers?
We are making great progress but some of the basics still aren’t being covered, for example, there are very few images of LGBTQ couples in marketing materials and it’s difficult to market authentically to the consumer if that imagery doesn’t exist.
Have you noticed any travel trends occurring in the LGBTQ sector?
Same-sex marriage is becoming more and more commonplace, which is excellent. It’s now legal in far more countries than it ever has been before, and with that means destinations are seeing a rise in same-sex honeymoon travellers.
Is there anything the industry can do to help those destinations that are not LGBTQ friendly?
Speak up, you all have contacts with tourist boards, with governments, with airlines, with hotels. If you start speaking up and say that you want to attract this consumer then they will have to listen.
Where have you seen the most improvements for the LGBTQ community?
Firstly, destinations such as Malta are number one for their LGBT friendliness. They’ve made huge improvements. Secondly, different types of sector, such as hotels are catering for the LGBT traveller.
How do you inspire the LGBTQ community to travel?
It’s down to two things – Inspiration and Information. We offer people the widest possible inspiration with as much information as possible. For example even if it is illegal to be gay in a country, we will tell our customers that, we will inform them because then they can make an informed decision about whether they want to travel there.
How can people find out more about what you do?