LGBTQ accommodations platform FabStayz launching in Tampa Bay

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TAMPA |FabStayz, an online platform seeking to eliminate the coming out process for LGBTQ travelers booking accommodations worldwide, will launch in Tampa Bay Jan. 2019.

The platform was created by area resident Robert Geller, who also founded the travel-focused Outings & Adventures and is designated as a “super host” for the industry-leading accommodations service Airbnb. He and his LGBTQ-inclusive FabStayz team hope to utilize Airbnb’s 5.3 million active listings to become the largest LGBTQ accommodations platform within the company’s first 18 months.

“I’ve been in the LGBTQ space,” Geller says. “I was vice president of the Tampa Bay International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival years ago, I’ve served on the board of Equality Florida and I launched Outings & Adventures, so I’ve also been in the travel space.

“As an Airbnb super host, I’ve had that experience of a stranger staying in my home and having to come out to them,” he continues. “I just thought there was something that could be created to take out that awkwardness I felt.”

Geller initially solicited the venture as “Airbnb4LGBT” with a website built for $11.99, something the travel giant cautioned was a trademark violation within four weeks. “I thought we’d get the concept out there to see the response,” he muses. “I was actually proud and excited that a $31 billion corporation was noticing what we were doing.”

LGBTQ and ally hosts noticed as well, with over 2,000 pre-registering for the new platform in just over six weeks. “We’ve been attracting hosts from all over the world,” Geller says. “The U.S., Mexico, the U.K. … it’s because of that momentum that we’re going into beta launch.”

FabStayz utilizes existing listing data from websites like Airbnb, Vacation Rental By Owner, Homeaway, TripAdvisor and more to highlight LGBTQ and ally hosts. In order for their listings to go live on the new platform, they are required to watch a video on diversity and inclusion (D&I) and agree to the company’s D&I statement. Other original content and resources will be available for continued education.

Geller notes that while Airbnb understands D&I, it’s impossible for a corporation of its size to address every niche. “Large corporations can start a conversation, which is fantastic, but there are opportunities for niche businesses to come in and really serve niche markets.”

While there are other gay-focused accommodations services like mister b&b, FabStayz “is a true LGBTQ+ platform,” he also stresses. “It was so important to us that anyone who lands on our site in the community felt like we were talking to them.”

There are other key differences as well, Geller says. “We’re aligning with visitors’ bureaus, LGBTQ chambers of commerce and businesses we know are supporting our community.” In addition, FabStayz will share a percentage of its profits with LGBTQ welcome centers and organizations that provide LGBTQ youth programming in each of its markets – beginning with Metro Wellness and Community Centers in Tampa Bay.

“I wanted something I could be a part of and build that had a greater good,” Geller says. “We go full circle. The platform is positive; we’re giving back and doing good in communities … that’s what really excites me about this project.”

To learn more about FabStayz and its launch, including hosting opportunities, visit FabStayz.com or email robert@recruitinghosts.com.

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