Diving headfirst into the vibrant Pride month in Los Angeles, PROUD Experiences blew expectations out of the water, bringing together the global travel industry for a dazzling celebration and recognition of the LGBTQ+ travel community. This amazing event has quickly become the go-to annual gathering for all things LGBTQ+ travel, earning the stamp of approval from travel brands, products, and services worldwide. Picture this: from June 5th to 7th, the Fairmont Century Plaza in Los Angeles was transformed into a bustling hub where travel advisors and planners met with global travel powerhouses to create mind-blowing leisure itineraries for their LGBTQ+ clients.
Simon Mayle, the Event Director of PROUD Experiences, summed it up perfectly when he said, "PROUD Experiences is all about celebrating humanity! We want everyone to feel like they belong wherever they go. It's about embracing your true, authentic self while giving the travel industry a chance to become true advocates and seize real business opportunities. We still have work to do, with 64 countries criminalizing homosexuality, but we believe that travel has the power to change hearts and minds."
Michelle Bearman, Vice President of Sales for Ennismore Chicago, shared her incredible journey from attending the event with just a plus one last year to representing a whopping 32 hotels this year. She emphasized how PROUD Experiences perfectly aligns with their existing efforts, saying, "We're all about supporting the LGBTQ+ community, and PROUD Experiences takes it to the next level. We've created a culture of LGBTQ+ inclusion throughout our global team, making sure our hotels provide unforgettable experiences for everyone. And guess what? We're planning to do even more next year!"
Mohammad Ghazizadeh, Commercial Director for The Maybourne Beverly Hills, gushed about how PROUD Experiences helped his hotel create an inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ guests. He couldn't stop praising the Masterclasses, where industry experts shared their wisdom and validated their hotel's efforts. He said, "The Masterclasses were gold! We got to hear firsthand experiences and learn from other voices in the industry. Making new connections was my main goal this year, and PROUD Experiences delivered. Plus, I loved having a full 15 minutes to connect with agents and buyers. It's amazing what you can accomplish when you have a real conversation!"
Tom Ho, the super cool luxury travel advisor from ProTravel International in Chicago, was thrilled to be back at PROUD Experiences for the second time. He raved about the sense of camaraderie and family that fills the event. Tom highlighted the importance of appointments, where he could have meaningful conversations with exhibitors to ensure the safety and happiness of his LGBTQ+ clients. And let's not forget the Masterclass sessions! According to Tom, they were a treasure trove of valuable information that set PROUD Experiences apart from other events.
Dame Kelly Holmes, the inspirational keynote speaker at the PROUD Gathering, shared some powerful words with the 500+ attendees. She reminded the industry that rejection takes a toll on individuals who are already concerned about being accepted. She urged everyone to keep striving for improvement and to lead by example. Her message was clear: support the LGBTQ+ community, because they deserve the most fabulous holidays ever!
PROUD Experiences brought together around 180 suppliers from 40 countries, including exciting destinations like Anguilla, Estonia, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Japan, Maldives, Mexico, Montenegro, St. Barts, and Seychelles. The event also attracted 170 buyers and advisors from 10 countries, including the United States, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Italy, and Switzerland. And let's not forget the incredible Masterclass program, where 20 speakers shared their stories, advice, and experiences, helping the industry pave the way for unforgettable LGBTQ+ travel experiences.
Mark your calendars, folks! Next year's PROUD Experiences is set to take place from June 3rd to 5th, 2024, back at the fabulous Fairmont Century Plaza. Want to know more? Check out details at www.proudexperiences.com.