This article was published on March 1st, 2023
When traveling, whether for business or pleasure, safety is always a top priority for any guest. This is especially true for members of the LGBTQ+ community. It’s fairly common knowledge that some travel destinations may not always be friendly towards gay travelers, while other destinations are a hub for the LGBT and encourage travel; think San Francisco, Miami, or famously, Palm Springs.
HomoCulture does our best to provide travel recommendations for our readers, fans, and followers—from LGBTQ+ destinations, accommodations, activities, nightlife, and events. Your safety is important. We also like to provide helpful travel tips and advice to queer travelers, including warnings and areas of concerns.
On a recent visit to Palm Springs, our team stayed at the Quality Inn by Choice Hotels, which flagged for us a deeply concerning safety matter, not just for LGBTQ+ travelers, but for any guest of the property.
At the time of check-in there was an issue related to the reservation. Someone else had been checked into the room without proper permission, name not on the reservation, and did not even provide a confirmation number. It raised red flags—how could a random person check into a reserved room without the proper procedures being followed? Essentially, anyone who is visiting this property could be at risk of arriving to their room to find a random stranger in their room! Clearly it is easy for a person to walk in off the street and gain access to your room without proper validation or authorization.
A guest’s information, travel itinerary, room number, even how many guests are staying with them—all of that should be confidential and kept between the front desk agent and the guest. The truth is, you can’t know who else out there might want to try and take advantage of any possible security measures. Stalkers, abusive family members, or relationships—check-ins without proper validation could end in a very unfortunate and potentially fatal outcome.
These security policies (or seemingly lack thereof) raise a concern for how safe you truly are at a property like this. Already, members of the LGBTQ+ community face discrimination when traveling and have to take so many factors into account. We’ve previously covered travel safety concerns and noted that Booking.com reported in 2021 that 50% of LGBTQ+ travelers face varying forms of discrimination during their trips. A safety risk like this is no exception.
When confronted with this safety issue and asking for an explanation on how this could have happened, we were told it was “being investigated.” However, every time a follow-up was made, staff at HomoCulture were given the same non-answer, “No one knows, but we’re looking into it.” There was a lack of communication among staff, and no one seemed to be able to find out how someone else got checked into the room without proper authorization. When the front desk agent asked if a friend was also staying here, upon confirmation, we were told that’s who checked in. However, this person did not have an reservation confirmation number or an ID to match this reservation and should not have been allowed to check-in otherwise.
Something to keep in mind: most, if not all, hotels require the name on the reservation to match the ID provided by the guest checking in unless previous arrangements are made. If someone simply walks up to the front desk and says they’re checking in for someone else, unless there is a note on the guest reservation or if the person in question has an authorization number, they should not be allowed to check in until the guest that made the reservation is present. If they don’t do this simple security check, this should raise some red flags!
We reached out to the Choice Hotels corporate PR team for an explanation and to investigate the matter. After several follow-ups over a month-long period, a member of the executive office finally returned our message. Our team was advised that they would be reaching out to the local property to review check-in procedures, and the importance of guest safety and security. However, this should be mandatory policy for any property, whether it’s a bed-and-breakfast, boutique hotel, luxury property, or cookie-cutter hotel chain. HomoCulture does acknowledge the outreach from the executive office of Choice Hotels; however, after offering some loyalty points to be added to our account, which we immediately declined, it was truly perceived to be a gesture to reduce attention to the significant safety issue at hand.
The HomoCulture team is dedicated to recommending LGBTQ+ travel options to our readers in good conscience. With safety concerns this large, we want to remind our readers to be diligent about their choices, and we remind you to use the travel tips we provide, and to plan your travels based on our recommendations. This is why the HomoCulture Tour is so important; we experience first-hand the destinations, accommodations, activities, and events we share with you, because we know they truly are queer-friendly, and offer the safety, security, and comfort our readers require.
While it appears that the Quality Inn Palm Springs by Choice Hotels will work to change their protocols and policies, for now, we encourage our readers who are visiting Palm Springs on vacation, attending Palm Springs Pride, or the upcoming White Party Palm Springs, to consider other LGBTQ+ friendly accommodations in Palm Springs, like InnDulge Palm Springs, an inclusive, clothing-optional resort in Palm Springs.
Please remember to stay safe when traveling by follow-up on your accommodations ahead of time, not sharing your reservation details (including flight, accommodation, or ticket information), to ensure your safety and ease of travel.