Friday, June 14, 2024

Queer Forty meets… Victor and Phillip from GayStay

Launched in 2016, GayStay remains the first and only home sharing company dedicated to LGBTQ travelers and hosts. They provide a marketplace for the LGBTQ community to list, browse, and book accommodations from around the world. 

To learn more about them, I had the pleasure of interviewing the co-founders Victor and Phillip.

RJ: Hi guys, let’s start by you telling us a little about each of you

I’m Victor Mantilla Colon, a co-founder of GayStayBnB. I direct the company’s mission, strategy and operational growth. Prior to GayStayBnB, I gained extensive experience in project management, special events management, operational logistics and customer happiness via positions at Booker Software, Gilt Groupe, Artnet Worldwide, Urban Outfitters Inc. and Valentino S.p.A. I received a B.A. in Art History from Trinity College.

And I’m Phillip Seymour, the other co-founder of GayStay, I manage the company’s day to day operations, oversee the fiscal budget and execute the company’s strategy. I previously created, trained and managed a network of ten consultants in a joint program with the Polaroid Foundation for 18 years.  Before this, I ran a New York based photography business that catered to such clients as The Museum of Modern Art, New York City Ballet, Interview Magazine, French House and Garden, and other well known organizations.  I now teach graduates and undergraduates at New York University.

Why did you set up

GayStay was founded with a single ethos: To provide safe, inclusive, and eclectic travel accommodations for the LGBTQ community.

Prejudice has no place at GayStay. Today, discrimination still threatens LGBTQ travelers and their potential hosts. We set out to eliminate these fears, and offer a completely unique home sharing experience for a diverse range of lifestyles. Gay owned and operated, GayStay is an online marketplace that allows people to list, browse, and book one-of-a-kind accommodations around the world. With GayStay, where you stay has the potential to be the most memorable part of your journey.

Our hosts and guests inspire us. We seek to create a thriving digital hub for the global LGBTQ community, where individuals can connect, share, and travel while enjoying a sense of affirmation, combined with all the comforts of home.

What makes it different to all the other home share/homestay businesses out there?

GayStay is the first full spectrum LGBTQ homesharing platform.  We foster an affirmative and inclusive environment for our LGBTQ hosts and guests.

We are the only b’n’b platform that does not charge host fees and we created a full customer service operation to immediately address customer needs. We also give back to the community through partnerships with organisations that work with homeless LGBTQ youth.

How easy is it to be a host?

Hosts (and guests) are asked for a few pieces of information before they make a reservation and book their stay.

To create a host or guest profile we ask for:

  • Full name
  • Email address
  • Confirmed phone number
  • Profile photo that shows your face
  • Introductory message or greeting through GayStay’s platform
  • Agreement to the host’s house rules
  • Payment information

For added security, we require email and phone verification for all guests. Hosts’ personal details are only shared after a booking has been confirmed. No real email addresses are exchanged, because all host and guest communication takes place on the GayStay platform. Some hosts may also ask guests to provide a government-issued ID before confirming a booking.

After the host submits his/her/their listing, we verify it and then publish it live.  The host is then informed via email following the publishing of the listing to the site.

If I am a host with any other platform, do I have to leave them?

If you are a host elsewhere, you do not have to leave that particular site or deactivate your listing.  You are able to host via more than one site.  Joining GayStay is easy and free!

What cities do you offer accommodation in?

Currently, we are based in NYC and are accepting hosts nationwide. As GayStay continues to build its presence in new cities, our original vision remains the same: Ensuring travelers and hosts feel safe, welcome, and full of pride.

What if there are issues when I book?

Our 24/7 customer support is always available.  You can reach us via email, chat and/or phone.  We will handle all issues with the utmost discretion, striving to deliver a satisfying resolution to ensure customer success.

What are the benefits to me if I host?

GayStay offers a diverse community to connect to while allowing you to earn rental income. We offer no host fees and secure payment system via Stripe and PayPal.

What are the benefits to me as a guest?

The benefits for you as a Guest are being assured of booking an affirming space where you can be your whole self, free of judgement in accommodations that fit your needs, lifestyle and budget.

To learn more about GayStayBnB or are considering becoming a host, visit their website


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