Based in Brussels for over 10 years, Holidaypride is a "straight friendly" travel agency which is specifically dedicated to gay travelers, offering them cruises, honeymoons or customized trips. Faced with competition from online travel giants, Holidaypride continues to serve a loyal customer base that continues to grow. Here's misterb&b's interview with its managing director, Jimmy Pauwaert (pictured below).
misterb&b: At a time when everyone can book a hotel or flight on the internet, what are your customers looking for when they come to Holidaypride?
Jimmy Pauwaert: In three words: advice, quality, safety. Although anyone can now book their hotel and flight on the internet very easily, travel agencies are not dead; quite the contrary. Agencies that specialize in a niche market (such as gay travel, for example) and put the emphasis on advice, service and quality, have survived the economic crisis and the internet boom and are now growing.
Today, in addition to our travel boutique in the chic Avenue Louise in Brussels, we also offer our travels on the web on www.holidaypride.be, in Dutch, French and English, which attracts a clientele throughout Europe.
Booking a few hotel nights or flights on the internet may seem easy, even though you spend hours searching among the thousands of offers and reviews before making up your mind. Holidaypride will guide you directly to what you want, depending on your budget and your expectations, because we know better than anyone what the gay clientele wants.
And for customized trips, honeymoons or upscale trips, travelers still prefer to book through a travel agency which guarantees the quality and the service before, during and after their stay. It's also because it has a license, all warranties and consumer protections.
When you book a gay cruise or any other travel directly through a provider abroad for example, you will get no protection or financial guarantees in case of insolvency of the foreign tour operator. By booking via Holidaypride, you'll under the Belgian law of travel contracts. In case of insolvency before departure, the deposit will be refunded through our affiliation to the Travel Guarantee Fund. Holidaypride is also a member of the UPAV (Professional Association of Travel Agencies), a quality label and the IGLTA (International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association) so we guarantee a charter.
Holidaypride also makes regular trips to check up on the quality of travel deals we offer. We also travel and discover new holiday destinations to offer always more choice while ensuring quality. And anyone who thinks that booking through an agency costs more to him is wrong. All this together, we have been in operaion for more than 10 years, with a loyal customer base that continues to grow.
misterb&b: What kind of trips do your customers look for?
JP: One hundred percent gay cruises such as Atlantis, RSVP, The Cruise, but also gay-themed cruises such as Source events, Cruise for Bears, or cruises on smaller ships, are increasingly successful year after year, since it‘s an "all inclusive" product that offers the best value for money.
We also have more and more requests for honeymoons, since gay marriage is now becoming legal in more and more countries in Europe and the world. And for the most important trip of their lifetime, honeymooners prefer to entrust their trip to a gay travel agency.
And of course the inevitable gay destinations such as Sitges, Mykonos, Gran Canaria, Ibiza, Tel Aviv, Key West, Palm Springs and many others are still pretty much popular, because we offer a good range of exclusively gay or gay-friendly hotels at competitive rates.
But 50% of our gay clientele chooses a more classic and refined trip, because contrary to what many think, we do not offer only gay travel. Our specialty is customized travel: together with the client, according to his/her wishes, we search the trip of his/her dreams, whether through a very classsic tour operator or in a unique hotel.
misterb&b: What are the trendiest gay destinations this summer?
JP: Sitges, Ibiza and Mykonos are the top gay destinations in summer. But Tel Aviv, to me the trendiest and gay-friendliest destination in the world, is growing and requested more and more. Scandinavia and cities such as Stockholm, Oslo and Reykjavík are also very popular, they are beautiful destinations and very gay-friendly.
misterb&b: What about winter? Any destination or any event?
JP: The event not to be missed this winter is TropOut 2016, a new concept of sophisticated gay travel in Thailand from 3 to 9 April 2016. A unique one-week travel experience in a tropical paradise, specially designed for gay travelers from accross the globe. It takes place at Angsana Laguna Phuket resort, an idyllic five-star resort, with nearby Nikki Beach and Xana Beach clubs reserved exclusively for TropOut attendees. By day you can relax in the sun loungers overlooking the turquoise Andaman Sea to the sound of Café del Mar or explore the tantalizing Thai culture. At sunset, the atmosphere electrifies with a wide range of entertainment and pace of international DJs. For more information, please visit www.tropout.com or the Holidaypride website.
Before the end of summer, we will also be launching a new feature, our "Pride Tours by Holidaypride", cultural tours for small groups of 15-20 gay people. We have more and more travelers requests to organize cultural tours between gays, avoiding tours with families and children. We will offer the opportunity for singles to share a room so as not to have to pay a single supplement. The first 2016 tours will be Israel, South Africa, Peru and Iceland.
misterb&b: You have a competition running right now with a trip to Gran Canaria to win. What is the occasion?
JP: We shot a promo video with our customers; the result is really nice. For the launch of this video, we organized a competition where you can win a trip to Gran Canaria.
To do this, go to our facebook page. On the wall you will find the video: click "Like" and then "share" and share with "everyone" in order to reach as many people as possible and thereby increase your chances of winning. Send a screenshot of this video posted to your wall on August 31 to firstname.lastname@example.org (the number of "likes" must be visible on the screenshot). The person with the biggest number of "likes" wins!