Planning a vacation can sometimes be stressful: Will the journey be smooth? Have you remembered to pack everything?
Having to worry about the welcome you might face as a member of the LGBTQ community is something we shouldn’t have to be concerned about.
But in reality, it often is.
This is something that online travel agency Orbitz is all too aware of. It’s why it’s been a market leader in this area for two decades now.
In fact, this year marks 20 years since Orbitz launched its first LGBTQ-themed print advertising.
It was then the first mainstream travel company, back in 2003, to make a TV spot with unambiguously gay representation, while in 2006 it received its first, perfect score of 100 on Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index.
Further fun and inspiring adverts have followed, like the ‘It’s A Great Big World’ spot from 2017, featuring Randy Rainbow, Bianca Del Rio, Miss Richfield 1981, and Margaret Cho.
Just this year, it released the amazing ‘Travel As You Are’ advert, showcasing a diverse range of travelers from across the gender spectrum. It sums up the travel company’s all-inclusive ethos: “We believe in a world where people travel on their own terms, not the one’s society created for them.”
Orbitz has highlighted its awareness of its LGBTQ customers, but it goes beyond mere advertising. Its LGBTQIA+ travel hub is a one-stop shop to help you plan your perfect getaway: To visit places “where you’ll be celebrated not just tolerated.”
All LGBTQ-welcoming hotels have opted into the Orbitz pledge of inclusivity, promising – at a bare minimum – to “enforce a zero-tolerance policy for hateful, disrespectful or discriminatory behavior from staff at any level.”
However, many of those listed go beyond this, training staff to use gender-neutral language to not incorrectly assume someone’s identity and being ready to offer recommendations for local, gay-friendly neighborhoods and activities. Hotel, cars, flights, cruises, vacation rentals… it can all be booked via the Orbitz website, which also allows you to build up Rewards points.
Orbitz has flexed political muscles, too. In 2013, the Chicago-based company sponsored the ‘March on Springfield,’ to help persuade lawmakers to vote for marriage equality in Illinois (two years before the US Supreme Court ruling). A couple of years later, it was among 374 companies to sign an Amicus Brief to the Supreme Court asking it to do the right thing and also rule in favor of same-sex marriage.
As we all know, SCOTUS did decide that same-sex couples could marry. Orbitz celebrated with a “SNAP for Equality photo contest,” and sent the winners on a first-class, expenses-paid trip to either the US or Europe.
More recently, Orbitz was among the first organizations to speak out in favor of the Equality Act and is part of HRC’s ‘Business Coalition for Equality’ (through its parent company, Expedia Group).
Orbitz also wants to help make tangible change, donating to a variety of charities.
“Now more than ever, diversity and authentic representation should be table stakes in our industry,” says Carey Malloy, Director Brand Marketing at Orbitz. “Our job is to facilitate a dialogue on representation and diversity among people, creators, and brands that provokes powerful actions of change, not just simply calls to actions.”
Whether you want to find a gay-friendly hotel for Mr. International Leather in Chicago this November or want somewhere to stay for Gay Days Disneyland in October, Orbitz has you covered, in the US and beyond.
That allows you to get back to the thing you really need to be worrying about: which cocktail to order before dinner and whether to opt for the Factor 30 or 50 suncream?!
Here’s a handy “Orbitz Rainbow Timeline,” that shows a few of the company’s contributions to our cause, from 2001 to 2021.