Holiday booking platforms urged to eradicate racism – Which ones? New

People of color are always discriminated against when booking or taking a vacation, search Which? Travel found.

We sifted through 34 pages of reviews on TripAdvisor that made racist allegations against hotel staff in the UK and abroad.

We’ve also spoken to vacationers who say their bookings have been rejected on Airbnb and other rental platforms on the basis of race.

Anecdotal evidence of racism on booking platforms

Using a keyword search, we searched TripAdvisor for suspected reports of racism by guests.

Several reviewers described uncomfortable encounters with the manager of an Oxford B&B. The guesthouse was “highly rated” on Booking.com, promising a garden terrace and a buffet breakfast with fresh fruit and homemade bread.

But one critic described being “cornered” and subjected to a racist monologue. “It was uncomfortable, upsetting and unprofessional,” they concluded.

Another guest said he barricaded his door after hearing the director’s “semi-inconsistent anti-Semitic vitriol”. “It was the first time in my life that I felt threatened in this way,” they posted.

The manager of the B&B did not respond to our request for comment. When we raised our concerns with Booking.com, they suspended ownership of their platform.

A spokesperson told us, “We take any reports of potentially discriminatory activity very seriously.” But it is disappointing that Booking.com did not act sooner given that several similar reviews have appeared on its own site.

Discrimination reported to Club Med

It wasn’t the only property to draw multiple charges of racism.

Thirteen separate reviewers for Club Med Kani in the Maldives claimed to have witnessed discriminatory behavior on the part of GOs (members of staff known as “Gracious Organisers”). One reviewer said: “We felt very excluded and in the wrong place as Asians.”

A Club Med spokesperson told us that every report of discriminatory behavior is investigated and appropriate action taken. “We have a zero tolerance approach to any form of discriminatory behavior and this is described in the employee handbook and reinforced in regular staff training,” they said.

No such notice has been published since 2019.

Black and Asian travelers “treated like criminals”

We also found reviews for a five-star all-inclusive resort in Mexico, where black and Asian travelers complained of being treated as “criminals” and “second-class citizens.”

One of them said of Dreams Los Cabos Suites Golf Resort & Spa: “I noticed everywhere I went in the resort walkie talkies came out and managers invaded. I did not feel welcome or at ease.

Others claimed they were ignored by restaurant staff, with white guests regularly served before them. A spokesperson for the resort said: “Discrimination by our staff towards customers is prohibited and we are sure it was never the intention to discriminate.”

Video: Vacationers share their experiences

Watch our video interviews with discriminated travelers and an expert advises you on how to file a complaint if you experience racism while on vacation.

Racist hosts at vacation rental sites

Discrimination can start right from the reservation process. This summer, Okorite Amachree saw her reservation rejected by the StayBeyond accommodation platform when she tried to book a night in London for her birthday.

She had paid in full when the company asked her to film herself by answering a series of questions. After submitting the video, Okorite was informed that the reservation had been canceled because the owner could no longer host it.

She tweeted about the “uncomfortable” experience, prompting Hotels.com – the platform through which she booked – to suspend the company from its site and arrange alternative accommodation for Okorite free of charge.

Make room for unconscious prejudices

Okorite called for change after ‘uncomfortable’ experience with vacation rental site

StayBeyond has since reached out to apologize to Okorite for the “hurt and anger” caused. It indicates that the video is automatically requested from all guests to ensure that they agree to the terms and conditions of the hosts.

He also maintains that the property was genuinely unavailable for Okorite’s booking dates, attributing the “misunderstanding” to an administration error. But Okorite questioned the unusual verification process.

She said to what? Travel: “It’s not something I’ve ever been asked to do before. This leaves room for unconscious prejudices as they make judgments based on appearances.

StayBeyond has since vowed to review its identity verification process, adding, “We would of course be happy to host Okorite in one of our homes.”

Rejected by hosts on Airbnb

Eulanda was rejected by an Airbnb host in Edinburgh

This is by no means an isolated case. Journalist and travel blogger Eulanda Osagiede claims she was turned down by an Airbnb host in Edinburgh – only for her white friend to later accept her reservation for the same room on the same day.

Eulanda believes she has been discriminated against because of her profile picture, calling it an eye opening.

Airbnb has since worked hard to resolve the issue, removing 1.3 million people from its platform for refusing to treat others without judgment or bias. It has also deployed its “instant booking” function – allowing travelers to book a room without first being screened.

An Airbnb spokesperson told us, “We were saddened to hear about these experiences. Discrimination has no place on Airbnb, and we’ve introduced cutting-edge changes to tackle discrimination and prejudice on our platform.

“But there is still a lot of work to be done and in partnership with civil rights organizations, we have launched Lighthouse Project to discover and overcome discrimination on Airbnb. This alone will not end discrimination, but it is an important step that can help us identify behaviors that would otherwise go unnoticed. ‘

What to do if you are racially discriminated against when traveling or booking a trip

Woman on the phone in distress

1. Collect evidence

Write down dates, reference numbers and conversation details as soon as possible after the incident. Collect plenty of evidence, including receipts, screenshots of messages or website posts, and all correspondence. You can then use this evidence to support your complaint or legal action.

2. Make a complaint

Whether you have been discriminated against in the UK or abroad, you can complain to the person who discriminated against you, the company they work for and the booking platform or agency with which you have reserved. Booking platforms often have anti-discrimination policies that allow them to investigate and sanction users for discriminatory behavior.

3. Take legal action

If your complaint isn’t taken seriously or if you don’t get the response you wanted, consider taking legal action. Just be aware that there is a six month deadline for bringing legal action in the UK which can start from the date the incident happened. If you have been discriminated against abroad, explore the protections offered by the laws of that country. Make sure to seek advice as soon as possible.

Read our guide on what to do if you experience racial discrimination when booking or while on vacation.

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