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Launching Pride celebrations this week in Los Angeles, leading LGBTQIA+ international travel industry event PROUD Experiences took place at luxury landmark Fairmont Century Plaza 3 – 5 June, announcing record attendance of more than 500 members of the travel industry as the event’s significance continues to influence the world of travel, year on year.

Sponsored by Internova Travel Group and now in its fifth year, PROUD Experiences provides a platform for global travel brands, products, and services to meet with agents, travel planners and media who are focused on creating and promoting itineraries for their LGBTQIA+ clients.

Commenting on this year’s event, PROUD Experiences Event Director, Simon Mayle said: “This was our biggest and best edition yet. We’re delighted to have connected more leaders in the travel and lifestyle sectors together than ever before to develop business strategies, expand LGBTQIA+ understanding and connect like-minded peers to help drive the pink tourism sector. Our content sessions were inspiring and energetic, featuring two superstar sportspeople telling their stories to the top and their LGBTQIA+ travel experiences.”

Kicking off the week, the Big Gathering brought the community together to update attendees on lessons learned since the last event in 2023. Led by renowned travel expert, Ed Salvato, the event welcomed to the stage American basketball player, actress, model and influencer Crissa Jackson, as well as world record holding triathlete, Raymond Braun, both sharing their thoughts and experiences.

Integral to PROUD Experiences is the Masterclass programme that runs throughout each event featuring influential speakers sharing personal stories and advice to help the industry evolve and welcome their LGBTQIA+ guests. Leading hospitality training executive, Jim McPartlin led the way followed by a panel featuring Caroline Beteta, President and CEO at VisitCalifornia, and Tom Kiely, President and CEO at West Hollywood Travel + Tourism Board.

PROUD Experiences 2024 welcomed some 182 exhibitors from 30 countries including Estonia, Jamaica, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, St Barths and Vietnam to name a few. Over 182 buyers and agents from 14 countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, UK and USA were in attendance as well as 32 media and content creators from 7 countries. Over 6,000 pre-scheduled appointments took place to expand networks, exchange experiences and share valuable knowledge on the LGBTQIA+ travel industry.

Luxury travel buyers, exhibitors and sponsors alike were enthusiastic in their praise of the role of PROUD Experiences in supporting the industry to promote inclusive travel across the world.

Asan Askin, Director, West Coast & Entertainment Services, First in Service Travel commented “For us, it’s all about the safety of our clients and ensuring they feel welcome wherever they travel. It’s great to see so many brands we have met with this week being so open and understanding. There has been some interesting dialogue at PROUD Experiences this week, we’ve met with some inspiring suppliers that we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet outside of such an inclusive event like PROUD.”

Elvira Reyes, Sales Director, Thompson Zihuantanejo & Hyatt Secrets Tulum commented “PROUD Experiences has been so beneficial for us. We are here to do business, but the different Masterclass and educational sessions have provided us with so much information that we can implement in our properties. Our resorts are very inclusive, but we can always do more to embrace the LGBTQIA+ community and ensure everyone feels safe.”

Caroline Beteta, President & CEO of Visit California said “We’re honoured PROUD Experiences found its way to Los Angeles, where California’s welcoming culture was on full display for this group of key travel industry leaders. California is perhaps known best for how its communities celebrate diversity and pave the way for the rest of the nation when it comes to inclusivity and representation across sectors and experiences – and I’m thrilled to share that distinction with my colleagues from Los Angeles Tourism and West Hollywood Travel + Tourism Board.”

Jeff O’Neill, Luxury Travel Advisor, Global Travel Collection said “As this is my first PROUD Experiences, I’ve been so pleased with how approachable everyone has been and ready to do business. The Masterclasses and training time away from meetings have been so important for me with some highly insightful topics and great guest speakers. Looking forward to the event returning to Los Angeles again next year.”

President & CEO of West Hollywood Travel + Tourism Board, Tom Kiley, proud sponsor of PROUD Experiences for a second year running added “West Hollywood was founded 40 years ago to support and protect the rights of the LGBTQ+ community – and today the city stands firmly as a welcoming destination, on the forefront of progress. Showcasing our small but mighty city of West Hollywood to buyers, sellers and media through PROUD Experiences is our joy and our purpose,”

Wanda Albano Ahmadi, Senior Director, Communications at Beverly Hills Conference & Visitor Bureau expressed “PROUD offers a great forum for discussion around how we as destinations can ensure inclusive and welcoming experiences. We love being able to showcase all that Beverly Hills has to offer for LGBTQ+ travellers, from unparalleled shopping and luxury hotels to world-class dining and lush green spaces.”

The next edition of PROUD Experiences will be once again held at LA’s Fairmont Century Plaza, 2-4 June 2025.